UK bureaucrat, not diplomat, gets job
Appointed only on Tuesday, new Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick is set to be an entirely different breed of administrator than the traditional occupant of Government House.
Not previously affiliated with the traditional pool of officials at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mrs. Kilpatrick has spent the past eight years as director-general and acting permanent secretary in the United Kingdom’s Home Office and, according to her CV, has worked chiefly in finance-related positions in a range of public bodies.
In sharp contrast to outgoing Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor, a career diplomat and British High Commissioner to Barbados prior to service in George Town, Mrs. Kilpatrick since 1982 has worked largely in London, serving between 1995 and 2005 as West Sussex County Council deputy chief executive. Subsequently, she was named director-general and, in 2012, acting permanent secretary in the Home Office.
Mrs. Kilpatrick is also a chartered public accountant with experience in various London boroughs as treasurer, chief accountant and auditor.
Her appointment to the top slot in the Cayman Islands means Mrs. Kilpatrick will shift from a core civil service public safety position in Britain to the core diplomatic service at the FCO.
During the past several years, the UK has assumed much greater control over Cayman’s annual budget, enacting the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility, eliminating long-term borrowing through the 2015/16 fiscal year and installing a British adviser to assist the administration’s new Budget Delivery Committee.
In a Wednesday statement, Mrs. Kilpatrick said she greatly anticipated the new posting: “I look forward to work in a constructive partnership with the newly elected government to ensure a safe, successful and sustainable future for the Cayman Islands.”
Set to assume control in September after Mr. Taylor’s departure for Mexico City, Mrs. Kilpatrick will be the first woman to hold the gubernatorial post locally, although she is not the first female to oversee an overseas territory.
On 23 October last year, the FCO named long-time civil servant Christina Scott as Governor of Anguilla, citing her service as director of the civil contingencies Secretariat in the Cabinet Office, three years as private secretary to the prime minister and service in the Treasury, the Department for Transport and the European Commission. She is set to assume her new post this summer.
In March 2010, Victoria Treadell was named Governor-General of Pitcairn Islands; and in July 2007, Louise Lake-Tack was named Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda.
Cayman’s previous 11 governors – from 1971’s Athelstan Charles Ethelwulf Long to Duncan Taylor – have all been men.
Commenting on Wednesday, the governor’s office said Mrs. Kilpatrick’s appointment had not been a particular surprise as the FCO sought an expanded pool of skilled officials.
“The context has changed in the last two years, and other departments are able to bid for these positions,” said spokesman Steve Moore. “Prime Minister [David] Cameron is taking the overseas territories very seriously.”
Her background, he said, qualifies her to oversee a world financial centre and her experience in local government will have prepared her for administrative duties, “and when she ultimately finishes here, she can bring that experience back to core government” in Britain.
If salary is any indicator, Mrs. Kilpatrick is a highly valued public servant in the UK. According to parliamentary records for January 2012, Mrs. Kilpatrick was one of 15 Home Office or government-associated workers, earning more than British Prime Minister Cameron, who makes £142,500 annually.
As director-general, Mrs. Kilpatrick earned between £180,000 and £184,999 per year.