New governor aims for positive relationship

The Cayman Islands’ new governor Duncan Taylor has said he hopes to rebuild the strained relationship between the local government and the UK.

Governor Taylor and his family

New governor Duncan Taylor poses with his wife Marie-Beatrice and son Max following his swearing-in ceremony on Friday.

In his first speech as governor, minutes after being sworn in as the 11th Queen’s representative in Cayman at the Legislative Assembly on Friday afternoon, Mr. Taylor laid out his objectives, the first of which he said was to ‘was to promote a positive relationship between the Cayman Islands and the UK’.

‘I know that there has been some concern that the relationship has been through a rocky patch over the past year or so: and there have certainly been difficult issues which have introduced tensions into relations.

‘But I believe that the relationship between the Cayman Islands and the United Kingdom is fundamentally sound; and that it is possible to handle difficult issues effectively and diplomatically within a strong and well-founded relationship…. I will certainly do all I can to ensure that the relationship is positive and productive,’ Mr. Taylor said.

He added: ‘My vision as governor is one of partnership and cooperation, working with the elected government, with the civil service, with civil society and with the people of the Cayman Islands to promote a fair, just, peaceful, prosperous and sustainable society.’

In his welcome speech to the new governor, Premier McKeeva Bush outlined the issues and problems facing Cayman, including the ones which would fall under Mr. Taylor’s remit.

While saying that Caymanians gave new acquaintances ‘the benefit of the doubt’, he prefaced his speech by telling the governor, ‘We are also firm believers in the phrase ‘straight talk means no falling out’.

‘I would be doing the public a disservice if I did not acknowledge that you come to us in particularly challenging times…which sadly include the very standing and public credibility of the office to which you have just been sworn,’ Mr. Bush said.

Relations between Cayman and the UK have been frosty since the launch of the controversial UK Metropolitan Police operations Tempura and Cealt, ordered by Mr. Taylor’s predecessor Stuart Jack, to examine allegations of corruption within the police force. Neither investigation has led to a single conviction but is estimated to have cost taxpayers some $10 million.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s failure to defend the Cayman Islands against accusations of being a tax haven or to protest against it being placed on an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development grey list last year further damaged relations between Cayman and the UK.

Mr. Bush told the governor he looked forward to the day when Britain’s Labour Party would no longer be in power.

The premier also highlighted the growing problem of crime in Cayman, a subject the new governor said he would address. He was scheduled to have a briefing with the Police Commissioner David Baines after the swearing-in ceremony.

Mr. Taylor touched on the importance of good governance, but said he did not intend to ‘micro-manage’.

‘Where due process is followed and good governance practised, the vision of partnership and cooperation will flourish; the governor can operate with a light touch,’ he said.

However, he warned that where a governor has legitimate concerns about good governance, ‘he must be prepared to do what is necessary to encourage it and ensure it is followed. It is in the long-term interest of us all in the Cayman Islands that the highest standards of governance are practised. I will do everything I can to contribute to this.’

He said one of the first things he would do as governor was familiarise himself with the people of Cayman and visit all the districts, including the Sister Islands to ‘meet as many people as possible as early as possible’.

Mr. Taylor is accompanied to his new posting by his wife, Marie-Beatrice, and the youngest of their five children, 23-year-old son Max.

Prior to coming to Cayman, he was British high commissioner for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean since 2005, and has served in the UK’s foreign service for 27 years. He has also worked in West Africa, Latin America, Cuba, the US, Hungary, and Japan – where he worked for a time with the former governor of Cayman, Stuart Jack.

The new governor arrived on a Cayman Airways flight around noon on Friday and was whisked to the VIP area where he met local members of the Legislative Assembly. After a quick trip to his new home at Government House, he arrived at the Legislative Assembly for his swearing-in ceremony.

A public reception was held for him at Pedro St James on Friday night.