LEGAL THREAT: War of words between Governor and Anguilla government continues

In a statement, the government of Chief Minister Hubert Hughes said that the Governor was also selective in his criticism of the minister on the waiver issue.

THE VALLEY, Anguilla, CMC – The Anguilla government Wednesday accused the British appointed Governor Alistair Harrison of using “residual powers which he alleges to have under the constitution “for banning Home Affairs Minister Walcott Richardson from issuing visa wavers for persons wanting to visit the British Overseas Territory.

Richardson has hinted at the possibility of taking legal action against the Governor over the remarks he made when he addressed the visa waiver issue.

In a statement, the government of Chief Minister Hubert Hughes said that the Governor was also selective in his criticism of the minister on the waiver issue.

Earlier this week, Harrison told Richardson that he should immediately stop issuing visa waivers to persons after indicating that known criminals had benefitted from the initiative.

“I have become concerned that the Minister’s practice of issuing visa waivers, which is not permitted under the Immigration and Passport Act and hence an abuse of his office, is threatening the security of Anguilla in a number of ways,” Harrison said in a statement.

Harrison said that the issuance of the visa waivers legally falls under the authority of the Chief Immigration Officer and not the Minister of Home Affairs – whose portfolio includes Immigration.

The government and Richardson have been at odds for some time with the British government representative making allegations of ‘misconduct in public office’ by the local government minister in the past.

But in its statement, the Hughes administration said that at an extraordinary Executive Council meeting, summoned by the Governor, the British official presented a similar document in which he sought the Council’s approval.

“The majority of the ministers challenged His Excellency on the content of the document. Rather than the matter being deferred as is the normal practice of Executive Council in matters that need further consideration, the Ministers of Government have observed that the Governor has chosen to exercise residual powers which he alleges to have under the constitution ostensibly on the basis of issues pertaining to security,” the statement said.

“The Government of Anguilla will make a full and detailed statement within the next few days. The Minister of Home Affairs, the Hon. Walcott Richardson has instructed his Solicitors to review the Governor’s press release with a view of taking legal action for any defamation of his character contained in the release and in earlier documents issued by His Excellency the Governor.” the release added.

Harrison had said that the Executive Council on Monday received a briefing on the crime and security situation in Anguilla from the Commissioner of Police, Rudolph Proctor, who explained the link between visa waivers and possible criminal activity.  

The Governor said following the Police Commissioner’s presentation he presented proposals to Executive Council recommending that the practice of issuing visa waivers by the Minister of Home Affairs should cease, given the threat it presents to Anguilla’s security.

“By a majority, the Ministers on Executive Council declined to accept my recommendations. I have therefore reluctantly concluded that I need to exercise my residual powers under the Constitution which enables me to issue directions to Ministers and public servants in matters affecting the security of Anguilla, for which I am responsible.

“These directions suspend the practice of the Minister issuing visa waivers. The Chief Immigration Officer can still issue waivers in accordance with the established policy, but must report them immediately to EXCO,” Harrison said.

The Governor said that persons who have entered Anguilla on a visa waiver will be allowed to remain for the duration of the stay that has been allowed, but will not be able to extend it.  

He said persons who are nationals of countries requiring visas to enter Anguilla and who are in possession of a visa waiver but have not yet entered Anguilla should apply for a visa from the nearest British Embassy or High Commission in the usual way.

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