Court throws out Wheatley Integrity challenge
The Supreme Court has tossed an application by former energy minister Dr Andrew Wheatley for permission to challenge the findings of a special report by the Integrity Commission that characterised him as “dishonest”.
Wheatley also sought the court’s permission to review the commission’s recommendation that he be prosecuted for perjury.
The commission is the body established to enforce Jamaica’s anti-corruption law.
The order refusing Wheatley’s application was handed down by Justice Sharon George on Tuesday.
George gave no reasons for her decision, according to Chuck Cameron, one of the attorneys representing the lawmaker.
“It was just an order of the court,” Cameron said.
Wheatley’s next move, he said, will be decided after the reasons are provided in writing.
“Once we receive it, we will have a discussion with the client and make a determination about whether or not we wish to appeal the decision,” he said.
The report, which was tabled in Parliament on June 30, followed an investigation conducted by the commission into donations made by Petrojam, the state-owned oil refinery, to a number of organisations between 2016 and 2018.
While noting that there was no evidence of nepotism on Wheatley’s part, the report labelled the Jamaica Labour Party-aligned member of parliament as “dishonest” and “less than truthful” in his representations concerning Sophia Deer.
Deer is the principal of Homestead Primary School, which is located in Wheatley’s St Catherine South Central constituency. She also sat on several boards within the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology while he was the minister.
According to the report, Wheatley acknowledged that Deer was his technical assistant, but did not disclose to investigators that she is also the mother of his nephew.
Wheatley has denied that he was dishonest and sought to have the court quash the adverse conclusions, which, according to his attorneys, “were not grounded in fact, nor law”.
He said his reputation has been brought into disrepute and that there are no alternative forms of redress, as the Integrity Commission, a parliamentary body, is immune from defamation suits.