The following is a critique of the Alexandra Inquiry matter by Senior Law Lecturer at the University of the West Indies Jeff Cumberbatch and a BU family member.
There is an English equivalent, but the French, in their own inimitable way, put it so much more elegantly: “Plus ça change, plus la même chose” – the more things change, the more they remain the same. This might have been the exact sentiment of more than a few objective bystanders after the public release of the report of the Waterman Commission of Inquiry into the Alexandra School. From all accounts, those who were, before the report – see WATERMAN REPORT, in favour of the censure of Mr. Jeff Broomes, the principal, for his alleged misdeeds, now feel a sense of vindication by the report that has recommended, inter alia, his “separation” from that institution. On the other hand, those who were firmly in his corner previously and of the view that he had done nothing wrong, have chosen to reject the commission’s findings in that regard. These opinions are to be expected. But what of the report itself? Has the commission really achieved its objective after the comparatively substantial sums spent on its production?
First, we have to appreciate the limitations of a Commission of Inquiry. Already cribbed, cabined and confined by the provisions of the statute under which it is constituted and by its stipulated terms of reference, the commission is not in itself a punitive body, even though it does have power under section 15 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, Cap 112, to report certain forms of procedural misconduct during its deliberations to the High Court, which may inquire into the matter and, after hearing the relevant evidence punish the offending individual as if he or she had been guilty of contempt of the High Court.