The Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush wrote a stern letter of complaint Thursday to Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts about the protocol of next week’s visit of five Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials to discuss constitutional reform.
However, although he had not yet received the letter, Mr. Tibbetts responded by saying he had not planned the meeting. ‘It was the Governor’s Office that facilitated the meeting, not myself.’
Later on Thursday, the Governor’s Office sent out a press release confirming the visit ‘for informal talks on constitutional modernisation’ next Tuesday and Wednesday.
The United Kingdom team will consist of Constitutional Review Team Leader Ian Hendry; FCO Head of Overseas Territories Tony Crombie; FCO Legal Counsellor Susan Dickson; FCO Overseas Territories Constitutional Adviser Michael Bradley; and FCO Desk Officer, Overseas Territories Department Fiona Rumney.
Governor Stuart Jack will also attend the talks.
The press release from the Governor’s Office said the talks will consist of separate sessions with the Government and Opposition, and ‘a separate meeting to discuss the proposed Human Rights Chapter’.
Mr. Bush said he only found out about the visit on Monday evening in a discussion with the Governor. The late notice upset Mr. Bush, who blamed Mr. Tibbetts in his letter.
‘Professional courtesy and protocol dictates you should have written me (or given verbal notice) in sufficient time as Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the United Democratic Party on such an important matter so that I could have consulted and had the considered opinion of the public and my Party before Tuesday’s meeting in which we are expected to discuss Constitutional Reform,’ Mr. Bush wrote.
In addition, Mr. Bush said the country had also not been properly informed about the impending visit and its agenda.
‘Constitutional Reform is very important to all and nothing has been said other than two or three words in the press some time ago, but nothing of an agenda or of substance,’ he wrote.
Mr. Tibbetts said he was only shown the itinerary for the visit by the Governor on Tuesday.
‘We knew – and McKeeva also knew – generally when [the FCO officials] would be here,’ Mr. Tibbetts said. ‘But we had to wait on the itinerary from the Governor.’
Mr. Bush said in his letter that Mr. Tibbetts had asked in passing on Wednesday if he had heard about the visit.
‘Not surprisingly, you put blame on the Governor’s shoulders,’ Mr. Bush wrote. ‘However, you are duty bound to have informed the country in a more substantial manner of an agenda.’
Contacted for comment, Mr. Bush made it clear that he did not have a problem with the visit from the three FCO officials, only with the lack of notice for a visit of such importance.
Mr. Bush said he and his Opposition colleagues are scheduled to meet with the FCO officials on Tuesday. He also said he understood the Governor will be hosting a small cocktail reception Monday evening.