British government takes extraordinary step amid claims of a climate of fear in overseas territory

Allegations of widespread political corruption, misuse of taxpayer’s money and a climate of fear on the British Virgin Islands have led the UK government to take the extraordinary step of establishing an independent judge-led inquiry into the claims.

Gus Jaspert, the British-appointed BVI governor , with the personal backing of the UK prime minister, has established a commission of inquiry to investigate concerns over governance, including specific allegations that point to possible corruption and infiltration by serious organised criminal gangs. The six-month inquiry, to be led by Sir Gary Hickinbottom, follows a haul of cocaine in November found by police worth more than £190m.

Jaspert broke the news to the island on Monday after returning from the UK for consultations. He said he had been struggling with his communications systems in recent weeks, and complained to the premier, Andrew Fahie, but said nothing was done, forcing him to ring newsrooms individually.

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