PRESS STATEMENT ON GAVIN SCOTT HAPGOOD’S REFUSAL TO APPEAR
For immediate release
THE VALLEY, ANGUILLA 13 November 2019 (Public Relations Officer Premier’s Office)
I have been informed that on Monday, November 11, Mr. Gavin Scott Hapgood who was charged with manslaughter and was subsequently released on bail, has refused to appear in Court in Anguilla claiming concerns for his safety and unfairness in the judicial process in Anguilla.
I have been very cautious in commenting on this matter since its inception, because it is first and foremost a police matter. The Royal Anguilla Police Force is the agency that has the responsibility to investigate such matters and to obtain evidence so as to arrive at an understanding of what occurred. Once such evidence has been secured, they must then turn that evidence over to another agency, namely, the Court System to adjudicate the matter. These two agencies, namely, the Police and the Courts are at the core of our justice system and no other arm or department of Government should intervene in that process.
In my position as Premier, as well as in the case of all my ministerial colleagues, (irrespective of our personal views on the matter) I have always maintained that I cannot properly intervene or intercede in any matter being managed by these agencies. It is precisely to ensure the independence of these agencies that the concept of separation of powers between the Executive; Legislative; and the Judiciary arms of Government is enshrined in our Constitution. In every truly democratic society, these principles ensure that social justice is maintained and that the rights of all citizens are upheld. My position on this matter has not changed.
Having said all of the above I am deeply perturbed that Mr. Hapgood has called our system into disrepute simply because it is his view that it does not appear to agree unequivocally to his claim of innocence. Further claiming that his life is in danger and his safety cannot be assured. There has been absolutely no evidence to substantiate these claims and I wholeheartedly support the statements released by the Attorney General and the Governor’s Office condemning these claims.
I have been informed by the relevant agencies that there is a formal process underway for securing Hapgood’s return as a fugitive. I remain supremely confident in our judicial process and assure all Anguillans; visitors; friends; and stakeholders in Anguilla that these matters will be dealt with accordance with the highest principles of natural justice including the presumption of innocence.
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