Public meetings with UK in doubt

Although the Governor’s Office has not ruled out the possibility of allowing the public to attend next week’s constitution modernisation talks, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’ government has.

Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush has asked for the meetings, scheduled to begin on Monday, to be held in public. When asked if public meetings were possible, the Governor’s Office responded Wednesday by saying it was up to the parties involved.

‘The UK-Cayman talks will run according to agreement between the sides,’ the Head of the Governor’s Office Simon Tonge stated. ‘If the Cayman side express a desire for the talks to be held in public, then I’m certain the UK delegation will give it their full consideration.’

However, Mr. Tibbetts said the FCO had stated otherwise in an email last week.

‘I would say the Governor hasn’t seen the letter from London that said they have no desire… to have the meetings held in public,’ he said Wednesday.

Mr. Tibbetts said the email came on Monday 22 September from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Ian Hendry, who will head-up the UK negotiating team next week. Mr. Hendry was responding to an email from Mr. Tibbetts sent last week.

‘I sent him an email to… ask how he saw the meetings taking place, since we have never hosted meetings of this kind here before.’

Mr. Tibbetts said part of Mr. Hendry’s response, which was directed to his political analyst Barbara Conolly said: ‘The meetings themselves should be held in private. However, we would have no objection to briefing the press at the end of the four days, preferably in the company of Mr. Tibbetts.’

Mr. Hendry’s response was copied to the Governor, Mr. Tibbetts said.

Mr. Bush maintained the meetings should be held in public.

‘I have said in the past to Kurt Tibbetts that it was the government, and not the UK driving these talks, and that’s why I think they need to be public,’ he said. ‘I’m sure the FCO and the Governor would not have a problem allowing these meetings to be held in public if the government wanted them to be.’

Speaking on the subject on Radio Cayman’s Talk Today Wednesday, Opposition MLA Rolston Anglin also said he saw no reason why the UK or any of Cayman’s non-governmental organisations attending the meeting would object to the meetings being held in public.

‘It’s the people’s business,’ he said. ‘We want to take the mystique and the mystery out of constitutional modernisation negotiations.’

Also on Radio Cayman, Julianna O’Connor-Connolly called for next week’s meetings with the UK to be taped, saying it would be the only way her constituents in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman could hear them.

Judicial Tribunal

The Governor’s Office also commented on whether the Judicial Tribunal that Governor Stuart Jack has established to look into complaints made against Grand Court Justice Priya Levers will be open to the public.

‘The Tribunal will decide how its proceedings are to be conducted, including whether hearings are public, closed or some mixture,’ Mr. Tonge said, adding that hopefully there would be more information on the Tribunal, he said.

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