The people of the Cayman Islands have been dealt a sorry hand from the commission of enquiry.
The commission is in the process of determining if Minister Charles Clifford improperly took confidential government records from his former permanent secretary office at the Ministry of Tourism and then inappropriately gave them to the media.
Pivotal to this enquiry is former Governor Bruce Dinwiddy’s recollection of discussions he had with Mr. Clifford and the time the files went missing.
Throughout this enquiry the media has been privy to sit in and report on events.
The meetings have been open to the public, but seating space is limited, so the media has been keeping the public informed of the progress of the enquiry.
That is until Wednesday when Mr. Dinwiddy addressed the enquiry via teleconferencing.
We’ve all known since last week that the former governor was going to testify.
We learned last Friday that the media would be shut out from hearing what he had to say.
While we didn’t care for the decision, we respect the commissioner’s right to make that choice. He told us from the outset that he would determine when the enquiry would be open to the public and when it would not.
We then were told Wednesday morning that Mr. Dinwiddy had refused to testify, bringing the enquiry to a screeching halt.
Little did the media – and we have since learned the Government – know that the enquiry did continue with Mr. Dinwiddy giving a statement to the commissioner, the commission’s legal advisor and secretary; none accountable to the Caymanian public.
It’s unfortunate enough that the media was banned, but the fact that the accuser and the accused weren’t even represented leaves a bad taste in our mouth.
Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, who pushed for the enquiry, and Mr. Clifford should have been privy to the information Mr. Dinwiddy was imparting.
A statement concerning what Mr. Dinwiddy said was released to the media, but who knows exactly what was said in the talks between the former governor and the commission?
The Caymanian people and certainly our elected officials don’t.
Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts alluded to a kangaroo court when discussing the commission of enquiry last month.
We’re wondering if his words may not have been a bit prophetic.