Governor backs enquiry commission

Cayman Islands Governor Stuart Jack restated his support Tuesday for a commission of enquiry that is looking into the removal of files from the Ministry of Tourism in 2004 by former permanent secretary of that ministry and current Tourism Minister Charles Clifford.

In a four paragraph statement, Mr. Jack said he welcomed the People’s Progressive Movement government’s willingness to cooperate fully with the commission.

Last week, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said the government would not go to court to block the enquiry, even though it believes the Governor acted outside the law in forming the commission without consulting elected Cabinet members.

‘HE the Governor remains convinced that the commission of enquiry is appropriate, proportionate and has been established in an entirely constitutional and legal manner,’ the statement read.

Mr. Tibbetts said he had not ruled out legal action after the commission completes its review, depending on how much of a ‘kangaroo court’ it turned out to be. He also questioned the need for the commission to address legal reform issues in many areas he said his administration was already reviewing.

The commission’s review is expected to consider certain areas where Cayman Islands law might be improved including; the protection of whistle blowers, the ability of former civil servants to run for elected office, and how government records should be protected.

‘Greater clarity about what is and what is not permissible should be helpful to all involved in government,’ Mr. Jack’s statement read. ‘That includes in particular civil servants, to whose fair treatment and independence from unreasonable political interference HE the Governor attaches the highest importance.’

Mr. Clifford has maintained that he removed only personal files from the ministry upon his resignation as permanent secretary in 2004, and that the disclosure of those files has, in part, led to findings of maladministration in the previous United Democratic Party government.

A number of issues raised by Mr. Tibbetts last week were not addressed in the Governor’s statement.

Mr. Tibbetts claimed Mr. Jack said the press misunderstood the purpose of the enquiry, characterising it as an investigation of Mr. Clifford’s actions in removing files from the Ministry of Tourism. Mr. Jack’s statement did not confirm or deny those comments.

Previous press statements from the governor’s office have indicated that Mr. Clifford was a subject of the enquiry.

The Governor also did not respond to Caymanian Compass questions concerning how much the commission of enquiry would cost, and how funds for its work had been appropriated. Cabinet members have previously said the cost would be around $250,000 and that the amount had not been approved by the Cabinet.

The government has also complained that Mr. Clifford is being subjected to a process that civil servants normally would not encounter. Generally, discipline for erring bureaucrats is doled out under the Public Service Management Law (2005).

Compass reporter Alan Markoff contributed to this story.