Clifford: ‘I’m not resigning’

Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford denied rumours Tuesday that he has resigned from Cabinet and the Legislative Assembly.

‘There is absolutely no truth to the rumour that I have resigned,’ he said. ‘I have not done so, I have no intention of doing so, and there is no reason for me to do so.’

Mr. Clifford said he understood the rumour started as a result of Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush’s complaint to the Governor about the alleged disclosure of confidential government documents prior to the 2005 general elections.

‘The Leader of the Opposition’s position on this is quite telling because what he is really saying is that me exposing corruption is somehow worse than the corruption itself,’ Mr. Clifford said. ‘His complaint is a smokescreen to take the attention away from the investigations, which are ongoing in relation to the UDP administration.’

Mr. Clifford said no amount of rumours would distract him from doing what he was elected to do.

‘The Leader of the Opposition needs to get used to the fact that the culture of darkness and secrecy which characterised the UDP administration is over and that this PPM Government has ushered in a new culture of openness and transparency,’ he said. ‘The UDP would be well advised to adapt to the new environment.’

Last Thursday, the Governor’s Office issued a press release stating the Governor was seeking legal advice – both from within the Cayman Islands and from the United Kingdom – concerning the allegations made by Mr. Bush that Mr. Clifford breached civil service regulations and the Confidential Relationships Preservation Law.

Mr. Bush has alleged Mr. Clifford took confidential government files with him when he resigned as the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism in July 2004 and then later distributed the files to the media. Cayman Net News publisher Desmond Seales has stated Mr. Clifford was in fact the source of documents used as the basis for a series of unflattering stories about Mr. Bush leading up to the May 2005 elections.

The written complaint to the Governor was made by Mr. Bush more than a month ago. The Governor’s Office said in last week’s press release that it expected to be in a position to announce if any action would be warranted in the matter within two weeks.

In the meantime, Governor Stuart Jack confirmed Tuesday that Mr. Clifford has not offered his resignation and that he has not relieved Mr. Clifford of his duties.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said Mr. Clifford had the full support of the Government.

‘I want to emphasise that while this is a plot to cause distraction, the fact is Minister Clifford enjoys the full confidence of myself, his elected colleagues in the Cabinet and our elected colleagues on the Government back bench,’ he said. ‘Mr. Clifford is a very dedicated and hard working colleague and he is very able and very committed to performing his duties with regard to all of the subjects under his ministry.’

Mr. Bush, who has been in Miami since last Wednesday due to a family medical situation, denied starting the rumour.

‘I have heard it, but that’s it,’ he said. ‘I don’t know nothing about it.’

Mr. Bush said he still expects to hear from Governor Jack about his complaint, which he believes is a valid one.

‘The Governor told me he would get back to me,’ he said. ‘I haven’t heard anything yet and I was off the island when he issued the statement last week.

‘But the [Confidential Relationships Preservation Law] is absolutely clear; there’s not ambiguity there.’