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Uff inquiry postponed until further notice

Sunday, September 6 2009

THE HEARINGS of the fourth and final phase of the Uff Commission of Inquiry into Udecott, which was expected to start tomorrow, was yesterday adjourned “until further notice” by its chairman Professor John Uff.

In an email sent by the inquiry’s secretariat to all the parties to the proceedings yesterday, it was announced that the hearing would not take place, but instead a press conference would be scheduled for 11am on Monday.

“I am directed by the Chairman of the Commission of Enquiry into the Construction Sector to inform you that the hearing of the Commission fixed for Monday 7 September, 2009, will be adjourned until further notice,” secretary Judith Gonzalez wrote in the email.

Sources yesterday reported that a legal hitch over the commission has emerged which may have lead to the decision to adjourn the proceedings.

Under the Commission of Inquiry Act, “all commissions...shall be published in the Gazette, and shall take effect from the date of publication.”

It is reported that, to date, the commission has not been Gazetted. But sources yesterday also reported that under the Interpretation Act, the commission could be retrospectively Gazetted. As such, some legal sources are of the view that such a hitch would not be an impediment to the legality of the proceedings.

The abrupt decision to adjourn the proceedings, coming on the eve of hearings which have been expected to see key testimony, will deepen concerns over attempts to scuttle the inquiry.

Key issues that have been carded to be dealt with during the fourth and final phase of hearings include apparent family links between the Udecott chairman Calder Hart and a company Udecott awarded a $368 million contract, as well as the controversial Cleaver Heights Housing project.

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