Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor’s recent actions in dealing with the announcement of multiple police investigations against Premier McKeeva Bush have received the backing of a United Kingdom House of Lords member as well as the support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. .
On Monday, Lord Howell of Guildford, a conservative minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the House of Lords, was asked about recent comments made by Premier Bush that Mr. Taylor had done “nothing of substance” to assist the Cayman Islands and had “stealthily and insidiously undermined government efforts” to get Cayman’s economy off the ground.
Lord Howell responded: “I have noted the premier of the Cayman Islands’ comments in the media attacking the governor and the government and suggesting that there is a conspiracy to undermine the Cayman Islands, and can assure the noble Lord [referring to Lord Ashcroft] that there is no truth whatsoever in those suggestions.”
Premier Bush unleashed a verbal barrage against the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office last month, stating that he was forewarned the agency would “try to ruin me” shortly after he took office as Cayman’s first premier in 2009.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service announced a few days before that Mr. Bush was the subject of two investigations into “financial irregularities” and was involved in a third criminal probe involving the unlicensed importation of dynamite into Grand Cayman.
Cayman’s opposition party said the stunning revelations regarding the investigations – one of which was previously unknown to the media and the general public – should require Mr. Bush to step aside until those probes conclude.
Mr. Bush said he would do no such thing and that opposition statements were merely political opportunism.
“They have now found solace in the governor and commissioner’s [of police] attack on me and again jump on the bandwagon to begin their calls for me to step down or to be thrown out by my own colleagues,” Mr. Bush said.
On 3 May, Governor Taylor noted that the UK’s vision for the Cayman Islands was set out during the 18-21 April visit of Overseas Territories Minister Henry Bellingham to the Islands. Mr. Taylor said Mr. Bellingham had spoken of “a vision of a flourishing and vibrant economy, whose public finances are well managed and whose adherence to internationally recognised standards of governance enhances its reputation as a good place to live, work and do business.”
“The governor [referring to Mr. Taylor] shares that vision and that commitment, and he has our full support,” Lord Howell said Monday.
Some of Mr. Bush’s harshest statements made following the announcement of the police investigations were reserved for the UK and “civil servants” in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that he described as “his enemies”.
“The FCO [in 2009] tried to force me into instituting income tax, property tax, a 20 per cent reduction in the civil service and a 10 per cent cut in salaries,” Mr. Bush said. “I said no and that we would find the means to come out of this mess. “In the face of that kind of resistance to their dogma, my tenacity on behalf of my Islands, my opposition to the exploits of the FCO over the years – did I believe that the FCO liked me? I knew better and I was warned by friends in London that they did not and that they would try to ruin me,” he said.
Mr. Bush said “every excuse” had been used to not support his government’s efforts to rebuild the territory’s economy, presumably referring to projects – including the cruise port terminal and the ForCayman Investment Alliance land swap with the government – that the United Democratic Party government has proposed.
He also alleged that “rumours” of police investigations were part of the “long history of the FCO in the Caribbean”.
“That’s a fundamental reason why they never give up the control of the police in any constitutional reform,” Mr. Bush said. “They control the police for everything they can get them to do. The Labour Party has had the worst record of this.”