UKPC 17
Privy Council Appeal No 0116 of 2010
The Queen ex parte Mario Hoffmann (Appellant) v The Commissioner of Inquiry and the Governor of Turks & Caicos (Respondent)
From the Court of Appeal of the Turks and Caicos Islands
JUDGMENT DELIVERED BY
23 May 2012
Heard on 13-14 March 2012
Lord Pannick QC
Javan Herberg QC
(Instructed by Arnold & Porter)
Phillip Havers QC
Howard Stevens QC
(Instructed by Charles Russell LLP)
"There is a high probability of systemic corruption in government and the legislature and among public officers in the Turks & Caicos Islands in recent years. It appears, in the main, to have consisted of bribery by overseas developers and other investors of Ministers and/or public officers, so as to secure Crown Land on favourable terms, coupled with government approval for its commercial development."
The Report identified some of the "overseas developers" referred to and included findings of fact in relation to their involvement that formed the basis of the Commissioner's conclusion that there was "a high probability of systemic corruption". Prominent among these developers was the appellant, Mr Hoffmann.
"I find that there is information of possibly corrupt and/or otherwise seriously dishonest involvement, including misfeasance in public office, of the Hon Michael Misick in relation to the Government's transactions with Mario Hoffmann of DEVCO for the development of Salt Cay: 1) In respect of his participation in that development with Chal Misick's knowing assistance and complicity in it, as described above; 2) in the potential abuse of his public office by accepting lavish and disproportionate hospitality from Mario Hoffmann, including the use of private aircraft, the provision of international flights and other hospitality in the course of developing business relations between DEVCO and the Government; and 3) in potential abuse of his public office by seeking and accepting a loan of $6 million from J&T Banka when that Bank, on its own account, was in negotiation with the Government over funding and participation in the development of Salt Cay.
I therefore, recommend criminal investigation by the police or others of the possibility of corruption and/or other serious dishonesty, including misfeasance in public office, in relation to the Hon Michael Misick in respect of those matters."
The Board will turn straightaway to Mr Hoffmann's assertion that these findings, and the findings of fact that related to them, fell outside the Commissioner's terms of reference.
The scope of the terms of reference.
"The Governor may appoint one or more Commissioners (hereinafter referred to as a Commission) to inquire into the conduct and management of any public body, the conduct of any public officer or into any matter whatsoever which is, in his opinion, of public importance."
"…to inquire into whether there is information that corruption or other serious dishonesty in relation to past and present elected members of the House of Assembly (previously known as the Legislative Council) may have taken place in recent years. It is to report to the Governor within sixteen weeks its preliminary findings and recommendations concerning:
a) instigating criminal investigations by the police or otherwise
b) any indications of systemic weaknesses in legislation, regulation and administration
c) any recommendation that the inquiry's terms of reference be extended
d) any other matters relating thereto.
In relation to (a), the Commission is directed to refer such information and/or evidence it may obtain to the TCI prosecuting authorities."
"In any event, the inquiry into whether there is information as to corruption or other serious dishonesty is only expressed to be 'in relation to past and present elected members of the House of Assembly (previously known as the Legislative Council)'. The Commission is not empowered to investigate, or make findings relating to, whether there is evidence of corruption against other persons. At most, it might be relevant for the Commission to consider the role and actions of such other persons in relation to an investigation into past and present elected members (and as to whether to recommend further investigation), but the Commission is not authorised to report into such other persons."
"…it is accepted that it might be relevant for the Commission to consider the role and actions of such other persons in relation to an investigation into House of Assembly members (in the context of assessing whether to recommend further investigation). But it could only do so to the extent that it was necessary in relation to such an assessment. It could not independently assess, still less make (even provisional) findings of fact in respect of a third party."
"That cannot be correct. Corruption is an offence which almost invariably requires more than one person. Any meaningful investigation into corruption must involve an examination of the wider offence. The expression 'in relation to' used in the instrument allows, in fact demands, if it is to have any real meaning and effect, investigation of those who may have been bribed, those who may have bribed them and/or those who may have been parties to any such corrupt and/or otherwise serious dishonest behaviour, as the Commissioner stated in his Interim Report."
To like effect the Court of Appeal held at para 16:
"We find that argument hard to follow. It does indeed take two to tango, and an assessment of whether there was information against a member of the House of Assembly will of necessity involve an assessment of the information against any person with whom he might have entered into a corrupt transaction. We would accept that it would be impermissible to launch into a wholly unrelated matter involving a third party, but do not think that the Commissioner has done that. It has also to be borne in mind that some of the transactions concerned were by their very nature complex, and involved numerous parties. In order to understand and evaluate them the Commissioner was obliged to look at the whole picture, and it would be both artificial and unconducive to the proper performance of his functions to tease out some strands only."
"Although it is an 'Inquiry' within the meaning of that Ordinance, it should be plain from the wording of the Terms of Reference, that it is, for the moment, an inquiry into whether there is a need for a further and more searching investigation of what may have been going on in the government of this Territory. That could be by the Commission itself, the Police or some other public or regulatory body – such as the new Integrity Commission."
The Court of Appeal upheld his decision.
"The Commissioner is not a Court or Tribunal with power to determine any issue of fact in the Inquiry or to direct any particular outcome. In particular, it is not his job to make findings of guilt or in exoneration of those against whom allegations may have been widely and publicly made. The most he can do, should he conclude that there is information of possible venality, is to consider whether to recommend a further and more searching investigation, or investigations, by some other body. His second task, which but for the first, would certainly not call for a partly forensic exercise of this sort, is to report on any indications of systemic weakness in the law or its administration in the Territory."
"I am concerned with the possibility, not with proof, of corruption. I have no power to determine issues of fact or to direct any particular outcome. It is not my job to make findings of guilt or to exonerate those against whom allegations have been made. The most I can do – if I have information of possible corruption or other dishonesty – is to recommend further and more searching investigations, say, by the police and/or some other public enforcement body with a view to criminal prosecution, recovery of the proceeds of crime if proved and/or consideration of other sanctions."
i) The opening statement in the Report that there was a "high probability of systemic corruption in government and the legislature", coupled with a cross reference to chapter 4 of the Report, which gave instances of relationships between members of the House of Assembly and developers, including Mr Hoffmann.
ii) The statement that the Commissioner was "unable to accept" Mr Hoffmann's explanation of why he appointed Mr Chal Misick as a partner in the Salt Cay project;
iii) The unqualified finding, contrary to Mr Hoffmann's written evidence, that Mr Chal Misick was not made a partner because Mr Hoffmann needed a Belonger as a partner.
iv) The finding that Mr Chal Misick had received an "unearned stake in a development company".
v) The rejection of Mr Hoffmann's written statement that the golf course had no significant value as "meaningless".
vi) The unqualified statement that the Hon Michael Misick had received "lavish and disproportionate hospitality" from the appellant.
vii) The description of the J & T Banka loan as "a convenient fiction".
"The Commission is required to inquire whether there is information that corruption may have taken place. It would be a failure by the Commission to carry out its duties properly if it was simply to accept all information as having the same weight. It must evaluate the information and submit its preliminary findings and recommendations as to whether there should be further investigations by some other body. Simply to name the people subject to further investigation without any further explanation would be of little value and would certainly not supply the Governor or the prosecuting authority with sufficient information on which to base the decisions they will have to make. Clearly it is necessary to evaluate the strength or weakness of the information and its likely relevance to the criminal offences for which further investigation is recommended. That is the preliminary finding that is to be supplied with any recommendation to instigate or not any further investigation. Similarly, one might ask how the Commission is to instigate further investigation if it cannot report the basis upon which it has made its preliminary finding that the information is sufficient to justify such a course of action."
"However, it is hard to see how the Commissioner could have fulfilled his task without making some evaluation of the material before him. He had to find his way through a sea of gossip, rumour and misinformation and in order to do that effectively it was both necessary and permissible for him to weigh the evidence, rejecting some and accepting some. Nor was he bound to accept the explanations given by the witnesses, including Mr Hoffmann and Dr Kinay, and if he did not accept them, then he was obliged to explain why. We do not think that he went beyond that, but even if he did in some instances, the overall context as noted above would correct it. Nor was it necessary for him to render the report unreadable by obsessively inserting qualifications, or by peppering the text with reservations."
"will then consider how best to proceed in the light of the Commission's preliminary findings, including whether to extend or amend the Inquiry's terms of reference. It would not be sensible for me now to prejudge whether or how the Inquiry might be extended. These matters will need to be assessed in the light of the Commissioner's preliminary report. At the same time any information which might be relevant for a criminal investigation would be passed directly by the Commission to the Hon Attorney General who in turn could request the police to undertake investigations which could lead to criminal prosecutions. It is important to understand that it is not the role of the Commission itself to conduct a criminal investigation or prosecution. Any matters of a potentially criminal nature which come to light as a result of its work will need to be the subject of investigation by the police and, if appropriate, prosecutions brought by the Attorney General."
" The public has a right to know that it will look at all matters which may have taken place and will not be restricted by terms which may effectively prevent full investigation of the allegations that have been made and of any relevant information which comes to light. The purpose of appointing the Commission of Inquiry is to try and ascertain whether there is substance in these allegations or whether they are unfounded. It is an inquiry not a trial. It is not to establish guilt but to uncover information. Any past or present elected member who is not involved should regard the Commission as an effective way of having the propriety of his or her conduct confirmed. If, however, there is information that there has been corruption or serious dishonesty in relation to any such members of the public is entitled to know that the Commission has the necessary power to uncover it , but the decision to bring any possible criminal charges is, and will remain, the responsibility of the prosecution authorities not of the Commission."
The Court of Appeal upheld his decision.
"Over the six months of extensive written inquiries by the Commission before it began its oral proceedings in Providenciales in January and February 2009, I had found much information pointing to possible systemic corruption or of other serious dishonesty involving past and present elected Members of the Legislature in recent years. I had also found indications of systemic weaknesses in legislation, regulation and administration and in related matters calling for attention by way of recommendation.
The oral proceedings – required in the main to secure full disclosure of interests from Ministers and other Members of the House of Assembly - have provided further information in abundance pointing, not just to a possibility, but to a high probability of such systemic venality. Coupled also with clear signs of political amorality and immaturity and of general administrative incompetence, they have, in my view, demonstrated a need for urgent suspension in whole or in part of the Constitution and for other legislative and administrative reforms. There are also strong indications, in the information before me, of the need for change in other related matters."
The Commissioner went on to recommend actions which included the suspension of the entire Constitution for an indefinite period. The Commissioner could not properly have justified such a recommendation without making an evaluation of the extent to which the information that he had received was indicative of systemic corruption. He stated, when he did so, that he was not ready at that point to formulate "provisional findings or recommendations for institution of criminal investigation in relation to any individual". No criticism has been made of the Interim Report.
"findings of information of possible corruption and/or other serious dishonesty involving individual Members of the House of Assembly – all Ministers at the material time and some third parties, with recommendations for criminal investigations."
"In reporting upon what I have found, I have simply related what emerged from the evidence, and identified areas of conflict, contradiction and information pointing to possible corruption. Further investigation will be required in every case, but to do less than this, at this stage, would have been a dereliction of my duty under the Terms of Reference, and would have risked presenting a less than full picture.
Any final assessment made, may or may not bear out my initial assessment on the material available. That assessment will be a task for those who come after me, and may or may not involve criminal proceedings. What should also be clear is that the process of inquiry, which this Commission has begun, is far from complete. The fact that an individual is not named or criticised should not be taken as any form of endorsement of their behaviour; the fact that particular misdeeds are not explored in detail here, does not mean they will not be given attention at a later stage."
The Board has concluded that the Commissioner correctly identified the task entrusted to him by the terms of reference and concludes that Mr Hoffmann's appeal against the Court of Appeal's findings to that effect should be dismissed.
"…persons liable to be criticised by a commission of inquiry should generally be given a fair opportunity to participate in the process: Mahon v Air New Zealand  AC 803. Although the extent of that opportunity and how it may be given effect to will depend upon the particular circumstances, the basic principle is clear."
The obligation of fairness
"1. Before any person becomes involved in an inquiry, the Tribunal must be satisfied that there are circumstances which affect him and which the Tribunal proposes to investigate.
2. Before any person who is involved in an inquiry is called as a witness he should be informed of any allegations which are made against him and the substance of the evidence in support of them.
3. (a) He should be given an adequate opportunity of preparing his case and of being assisted by legal advisers.
(b) His legal expenses should normally be met out of public funds.
4. He should have the opportunity of being examined by his own solicitor or counsel and of stating his case in public at the inquiry.
5. Any material witnesses he wishes called at the inquiry should, if reasonably practicable, be heard.
6. He should have the opportunity of testing by cross- examination conducted by his own solicitor or counsel any evidence which may affect him."
"My Lords, I think it unnecessary to refer by name or to quote from, any of the often-cited authorities in which the courts have explained what is essentially an intuitive judgment. They are far too well known. From them, I derive that (1) where an Act of Parliament confers an administrative power there is a presumption that it will be exercised in a manner which is fair in all the circumstances. (2) The standards of fairness are not immutable. They may change with the passage of time, both in the general and in their application to decisions of a particular type. (3) The principles of fairness are not to be applied by rote identically in every situation. What fairness demands is dependent on the context of the decision, and this is to be taken into account in all its aspects. (4) An essential feature of the context is the statute which creates the discretion, as regards both its language and the shape of the legal and administrative system within which the decision is taken. (5) Fairness will very often require that a person who may be adversely affected by the decision will have an opportunity to make representations on his own behalf either before the decision is taken with a view to producing a favourable result; or after it is taken, with a view to procuring its modification; or both. (6) Since the person affected usually cannot make worthwhile representations without knowing what factors may weigh against his interests fairness will very often require that he is informed of the gist of the case which he has to answer."
"…the procedure of a Commission of Inquiry such as this one is primarily a question for the Commission itself. Various considerations will affect that in addition to fairness, including the requirement of effectiveness, speed, economy and practicality. There is no general rule that all persons likely to be adversely affected by the findings of a Commission of Inquiry are entitled to give oral evidence. It is sufficient if they are notified of matters of concern which affect them and given a chance to respond."
"(1) Any person whose conduct is the subject of an inquiry, or who is implicated or concerned in the subject matter of the inquiry shall, subject to the provisions of section 4, be entitled to be represented by an Attorney at the inquiry.
(2) For the purpose of subsection (1), a Commission shall determine whether the conduct of any person is the subject of the inquiry or whether a person is in any way implicated or concerned in the subject matter of the inquiry."
Perhaps because in the courts below it was Mr Hoffmann's case that he was not one of those whose conduct was to be investigated under the Commissioner's terms of reference, neither counsel before the Board focussed initially on this provision. When it was drawn to their attention, both agreed that it applied to Mr Hoffmann. The Board has considered whether they were right to do so.
"Under the first Term of Reference, I am to consider whether there is information – in whatever form and giving it the weight I consider it deserves – of possible corruption in relation to , that is, involving, elected Members, past and present of the Legislature. If so, I am to consider whether to recommend criminal investigation by the police or other bodies. The potential targets of the Commission's Inquiry and any such criminal investigation are those who may have been bribed, those who may have bribed them and /or those who may have been parties to any such corrupt and/or otherwise seriously dishonest behaviour."
The Board considers that this statement is capable of giving a misleading impression both of the object of the Inquiry and of the manner in which the Commissioner addressed that object. The terms of reference required the Commissioner to inquire into possible "corruption or other serious dishonesty in relation to past and present elected members of the House of Assembly" (the Board's emphasis). When dealing with the attack made by Robinson and Beer on the terms of reference the Chief Justice remarked at para 21 that the Governor had identified "the limited group of people who were to be the subject of the inquiry". At para 24 he added:
"…the inquiry is limited to the past and present members who have been elected to a total of fifteen seats at any one time. It does not extend to the appointed members or to any member of staff in the House. It is limited to information whether corruption or serious dishonesty has taken place in relation only to that specified group."
"Pursuant to the Commission's first Term of Reference, I find that there is information of possible corruption and/or other serious dishonesty, including misfeasance in public office, in relation to five present elected Members of the House of Assembly, all of whom until recently were members of the Cabinet, namely, the Hons Michael Misick, Floyd Hall, McAllister Hanchell, Jeffrey Hall and Lillian Boyce. I have recommended criminal investigation by the police or others with a view to prosecutions, if so advised, in relation to such possible offences in respect of matters identified and described in Chapter 4, and summarised in Chapter 6, of this Report."
The five named members of the House of Assembly were primary targets of the inquiry.
"This Chapter necessarily considers other persons beyond simply the elected officials involved. It would be wholly artificial to produce a Report that did otherwise. In so far as there is information indicating corruption, that corruption does not exist in a vacuum (eg if an official receives a possibly corrupt payment, it must have come from someone else and they must be identified in order to show why and how it may be is corrupt)(sic)."
The statement that persons other than officials had to be named in order to show why and how the conduct was corrupt is significant. It demonstrated that the Commissioner appreciated that persons other than officials were not the primary targets of his inquiry.
"Several parties have sought to argue before the Commission that to consider or even to name parties, apart from elected officials, takes the Commission outside its Terms of Reference. Related arguments were also raised that no comment should be made upon those who provided no evidence or who only gave written evidence before the Commission. I do not accept those arguments. I have endeavoured to ensure that, in every case, where I was minded to make an adverse finding leading to a recommendation of criminal investigation in respect of any person whose conduct is the subject of, or who is implicated or concerned in the subject matter of the Inquiry, that person should have an opportunity to comment ahead of the Report, by means of responses to Salmon letters. All have responded."
The relevant facts
"If you feel able to do so we would like you to give a general statement as to the allegation that your development project is tainted by connection to the Premier and this is not the case (sic)."
"absolutely irresponsible rumours and some media reports that me personally or my project on Salt Cay is connected with any potential corruption or inconvenient acting. I'd like to present to you and whoever it may concern indisputable facts about my activities on TCI and Salt Cay Project."
"We suspect that he, along with many other developers, found that the approach that had to be taken was that nothing happened if the wheels were not greased in government. That greasing in many cases appears to be that one is required to appoint a 'partner' who takes a large share of some aspect of the project; who contributes nothing of any appreciable value; who is entitled to a significant proportion of the eventual profits/capital, and who just happens to be a relative or close friend of the Premier. He may wish to comment upon this."
This comment supports the Board's conclusion that the Commission was not treating developers as primary targets.
"1. Mr Mario Hoffmann in granting a 50% stake in Salt Cay Golf Club Ltd to Mr T Chalmers Misick in December 2006 entered into a potentially corrupt deal, in that he knew that the purpose of granting the shares to Mr Misick was to provide a benefit directly or indirectly to the Premier who was negotiating on behalf of the government in relation to the Salt Cay development as a whole.
2. Mr Mario Hoffmann, in representing to the Commission that he had recruited Mr T Chalmers Misick as a 'Belonger partner' solely on the basis that Mr Misick provided particular skills and abilities, and not because he was the brother of the Premier, was seeking to mislead the Commission.
3. Mr Mario Hoffmann engaged in potentially corrupt practice in that he may have procured and/or facilitated the loan to the Premier from J&T Banka of $6 million secured upon the shares provided to Mr T Chalmers Misick by Hoffmann.
4. Mr Mario Hoffmann engaged in potentially corrupt practice by providing lavish hospitality to the Premier and other TCI ministers, including the provision of international travel and the use of his private jet, whilst engaged in business negotiations with the Government of the TCI."
The findings of the courts below
"In those circumstances it seems to us that the proper conclusion on the evidence was that Mr Hoffmann effectively declined what was, on 20 January, a reasonable opportunity to give oral evidence at some point in the following two weeks."
Procedure Adopted by
the Commissioner, as summarised by the Chief Justice
[76) In his opening statement, the Commissioner explained that he had not, at that stage, been able to detail the procedure that he would follow but he gave his initial view of the manner in which it would deal with persons possibly implicated:
" ... the Secretary will write to persons who may have particular means of knowledge or who may be implicated by information already before the Commission. [The secretary] will seek specific information and, where appropriate, written material and documents or records. In each such case, common justice requires that I should inform those who may be so implicated of the gist of any information before me suggesting such knowledge or implication.... The next stage ... will be to invite them to give information orally, which may be in the form of evidence on oath or by way of affirmation ... "
 In a press statement dated 17 September 2008, the Secretary stated:
"Sir Robin hopes that the Commission will move to the Turks and Caicos Islands ... to obtain further information and to convene formal public hearings. At those hearings, he expects to invite or, if necessary summon, persons to give evidence and/or produce documents ... "
[78) On 3 October 2008 it was pointed out that letters had been sent to each member of the Government and elected member of the Assembly and the Commission had more recently extended the same invitation to assist the Inquiry to the Cabinet Secretary and Permanent Secretaries and Under Secretaries. It continued:
"There will be, in any event, public hearings ... at which evidence may be called, and at which anyone who, on due notice from the Commission, appears to it to be a subject of the Inquiry or implicated or concerned in its subject matter, will be given an opportunity to testify."
 That was repeated on 10 October 2008 but, in the press statement of 6 November 2008, it was stated that the Commissioner intended to summon the Premier and other Ministers to attend and continued:
For that purpose, and to give an opportunity to anyone to give evidence who appears to the Commission to be" implicated or concerned in the subject matter of the Inquiry, it will conduct
oral hearings in the Territory ... Such hearings may be held in public and/or private, and evidence maybe taken orally on oath or in writing, as the Commission considers appropriate."
 On 17 November 2008, this was repeated including the fact that "evidence may be taken orally on oath or in writing, as Sir Robin considers appropriate" and that he would "shortly notify those whom the Commission intends to examine on oath and/or those whose evidence he wishes to take, giving advance notice of the matters on which he wishes to hear evidence."
81] On 25 November 2008, it was announced that the oral hearings had to be deferred to the New Year and, on 10 December 2008, it announced the hearings were to commence on 13 January 2009. It is explained that evidence would first be taken from Ministers and members of the Assembly and the Commission would then take, "oral evidence from others over a range of issues within its terms of reference. Finally, it will give an opportunity to give evidence to those whom it considers and notifies may be implicated or concerned in any subject matter of the Inquiry" and it would publish by 23 December 2008 a provisional programme indicating the names of those to give evidence and when they will be required to give it.
 The press statement of 23 December 2008 set out in some detail the procedures to be followed at the hearings. It explained the rights of persons, whose conduct the Commissioner considered to be a subject of the Inquiry or to be implicated or concerned, to have an attorney present and gave the basis upon which the Commissioner had determined the procedure to be followed at the hearings:
"In doing so, he has kept in mind the essentially inquisitorial nature of the inquiry set by; 1) the great breadth of its subject matter and length of the period to be investigated; 2) the short time within which his Report is to be submitted, originally four - now seven - months; and 3) the tentative and preliminary nature of his first and main task, namely to inquire where there is information of possible corruption or other serious dishonesty in recent years on the part of or in relation to past and present elected members of the Territory's legislature.
The Commissioner is not a Court or Tribunal with power to determine any issue of fact in the Inquiry or to direct any particular outcome. In particular it is not his job to make findings of guilt or in exoneration of those against whom allegations may have been widely and publicly
made. The most he can do, should he conclude that there is information of possible venality, is to consider whether to recommend a further and more searching investigation, or investigations,by some other body ....
The Commissioner intends to exercise his power to take all evidence in public and on oath or by affirmation, save where persuaded the interests of the public and/or justice require otherwise .... In all of this, the Commissioner will endeavour to conduct the Inquiry in such away that it does not risk prejudicing the fairness of any subsequent proceedings."
 He concluded with the procedures, of which the first is to examine the elected members;
"The second stage of the hearings, which should begin during the third week of the hearings, will be devoted to the oral evidence of others. The Commissioner will notify in advance the gist of such evidence to those whom he considers may be adversely affected by it Counsel to the Commissioner (sic) will examine each witness in chief. With the permission of the Commissioner, each witness may be cross-examined by or on behalf of any person the subject of the evidence or implicated or concerned in the subject matter of the evidence. The witness
may then be further examined by Counsel to the Commissioner.
At the third stage of the bearings, the Commissioner will give an opportunity to any person to give evidence in response to any oral evidence which he, the Commissioner, considers may adversely affect or cause concern to that person. The Commissioner may, in his discretion receive any such evidence orally or in writing .... Any person, who, at the direction of or with the acquiescence of the Commissioner, gives evidence in writing, will have a reasonable time within which to do so."
 The fourth stage~ refers to the right of counsel to make submissions either orally or in writing. The statement then reminds the public that some evidence provided to the Commission was given in confidence and continues:
"Thus, the information to be given by witnesses in stage two of the hearings can be but a fragment of all the information before the Commissioner, to each part of which he will have to give the weight he: considers it deserves. The final stage of the Inquiry will be for .the Commissioner to prepare a Report and Recommendations to the Governor, as required by his Terms of Reference. In the course of doing so, he may form a provisional view from his consideration of all the material before him that there is information of possible corruption or other serious dishonesty on the part of a person or persons worthy of further and more searching investigation. In that event, he will
inform any such persons in writing of that provisional view and invite his or her comments before finalising the report and recommendations."
 On 12 February 2009, the Commission reiterated that the findings and recommendations in the final report would be made after taking into account the responses of individuals given to what are described as "minded to find and/or recommend" letters.
 Finally, on 16 April it was announced that the Commission:
''has notified all those, in respect of whom it may make adverse findings, of the nature of those provisional findings. It has now received most responses, but awaits a few more.
The purpose of the exercise, often referred to as a Salmon Exercise ... is to give the recipients an opportunity to make representations to the Commission before it considers and makes its final findings and recommendations. Receipt of any such letter is not to be taken by its recipient or anyone learning of it as, in itself, a finding of impropriety against the recipient. ... The Commission hopes to have received all the remaining responses to its Salmon letters by 21st April. It has been considering and taking into account those already received, and will do the same for those~ to come, before reaching its final conclusions in accordance with its terms of