Covert investigation request revealed

The Commission of Enquiry continued with testimony from Ministry of Tourism, Environment, Investment, and Commerce Permanent Secretary Gloria McField-Nixon.

In 2005, Mrs. McField-Nixon was deputy permanent secretary under then-Permanent Secretary Charles Clifford and Minister McKeeva Bush.

Mrs. McField-Nixon was appearing as a witness to outline some details of her knowledge and opinions about whether any government files had been removed from Mr. Clifford’s office when he resigned.

The main topics of discussion centred on defining when a document becomes a government document.

An extended line of questioning involving the lawyers for all the parties established, with Mrs. McField-Nixon’s input, that once in the hands of a civil servant, minutes of board meetings of public companies were to be considered government documents.

Concerns were raised by Cayman Net News publisher Desmond Seales’ lawyer whether civil servants were required to sign a confidentiality or secrecy oath when entering the civil service, which Mrs. McField-Nixon said she did not recall as she may have signed something when she had entered the civil service in 1997 but had not been required sign as she moved up the ranks.

The Commission’s legal advisor Andrew Jones noted later that in fact government officers were not allowed to remove any documents, whether the departing government officer considered them to be personal in nature or not.

Mrs. McField-Nixon’s testimony also involved a discussion of the letter she received from the Governor under Mr. Bush’s instruction asking her to conduct a covert investigation into whether Mr. Clifford had in fact removed any confidential files from his office.

Mrs. McField-Nixon stated she could not confirm or deny anything had been taken as she did not have access to Mr. Clifford’s filing cabinet nor possess a key to his office.

Mrs. McField-Nixon was also pressed on the nature of the request from Mr. Bush, that Mr. Bush’s strong personality may have had an influence on her in that she had felt pressured to comply with his wishes to conduct a covert investigation into Mr. Clifford’s activities.

‘I can say he was not able to succeed in that, as I felt my neutrality as a civil servant would have been compromised – I did not wish to cooperate as I did not want a civil service matter to become politicized,’ she said.