Cayman’s chief London lobbyist and head of its U.K.-based Cayman Islands government office will be investigated again over alleged ethics breaches, according to reports in the British press.
Lord Blencathra, formerly David MacLean, requested the probe this time around, following reports that his initial contract with the Cayman Islands government included lobbying parliament among his duties.
“I have [Monday] morning [March 24] referred myself to the Lord’s Commissioner for Standards so that he can investigate the allegations personally,” Lord Blencathra said in an email to the Caymanian Compass last week. “I have refuted [the allegations] and I categorically deny that I am in breach of the code.
“[The writer of one of the U.K. newspaper articles] has looked at the original contract which had included lobbying parliament and has automatically assumed that I was in breach of the code, irrespective of whether or not I was lobbying,” Lord Blencathra added, stating that the sentence about lobbying U.K. MPs was removed from the agreement. “The contract was then changed in December 2012 to remove all reference to MPs and parliament – so that there could be no perception even that I was doing that.
“This is a rehash of the original allegations which was fully investigated and I was cleared,” Lord Blencathra said. “I did not lobby parliament and that was accepted by the commissioner for standards.”
Lord Blencathra’s appointment as director of the Cayman Islands London office in 2011 caused a minor uproar in Cayman, where some lawmakers felt the post should go to a Caymanian [the London office was formerly run by retired Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert], and in the U.K., where Labour Party MPs cried foul over alleged conflicts of interests.
In 2012, the U.K. Commissioner for Standards dismissed a complaint against Lord Blencathra in the House of Lords, indicating the peer had not breached the U.K.’s Parliamentary Code of Conduct. Commissioner Paul Kernaghan found in his review that Lord Blencathra had not been “providing parliamentary advice or services to the Cayman Islands government in the United Kingdom.”
Opponents of Lord Blencathra’s appointment argued that differentiating between lobbying government and lobbying parliament was too fine a distinction and represented a “loophole” that should be closed.
A House of Lords committee revised its rules for lobbying, to which Lord Blencathra said he will adhere.