CoI Questions Skelton-Cline's $571K Neighborhood Partnership Project

Esther Durand, Journalist
June 08, 2021 12:06 pm AST
Esther Durand, Journalist | June 08, 2021 12:06 pm AST
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(Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News)
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(Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News)

The $571,800 contract for the Neighbourhood Partnership Project that Government Consultant and Clergyman Claude Skelton Cline was raised during the ongoing UK-backed Commission of Inquiry (CoI) hearing.

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In 2008, then Education Minister, now Premier and Minister of Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie hired Skelton-Cline for the job via is consulting firm – Claude Ottley Consulting Limited.

Fast forward to 2019, a leaked report from the Auditor General's Office several questions were raised about the work conducted under the project.

The report said the contract was to coordinate and mobilize churches, schools and other community groups and organizations to provide assistance and guidance to the vulnerable youth in the territory.
The programme ran from 2009 to 2010 under the VIP regime and was a major controversy. It came on the heels of the VIP accusing then Education Minister Myron Walwyn of financial mismanagement of the Elmore Stoutt High School wall.

Hearing

During the hearing on May 11, Commissioner the Right Honorable Sir Gary Hickinbottom asked Skelton Cline: "Were you involved in the Virgin Islands Neighborhood Partnership Project?"

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"Yes," Skelton Cline replied.

He was then asked if it was during the time he was transitioning back into the territory from the US.

"No. At that point, I had not transitioned yet, but in earnest, I would say '09 is when I became more focused in transition. But if I recall correctly, that particular group would have been '07-'08."

The questioning continued: "So, whilst you were still working in--you were still U.S.-based but then involved in the Partnership Project as well."

Skelton Cline replied in the affirmative.

He was then asked if the contract was awarded to him as an individual or to a business that he owned, to which he replied that it was a business.

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When asked what was the business name, he had this to say: "Oh, it was a consultancy. I'll have to refresh the exact name. It was a consultancy."

When he was quizzed on whether it was Claude Ottley Consulting as per media reports, Skelton-Cline said: "That's possible, Ottley Consultant. You see, I'm not a reader of the media, the local media so--but that sound--that sounds familiar, but I can refresh my memory with the exact name, yeah."

"Well, would you be happy to, after you've given your evidence just to confirm in writing what the name of the consultancy was?" he was asked, to which he said he would.

He then informed after being asked that the consultancy was "a middle name, my dad's name."
He said his full name was Claude Ottley Skelton-Cline.

He was asked if he still had documents pertaining to the project, but he said: "I doubt that very much."
"If we--if the Commission needed it, would you be willing to review your records to see if you do have any documents?" he was asked, to which he replied in the affirmative.

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