Taking charge of Cayman’s London office

“Lord Blencathra … is the head of the London office.”

So wrote Eric Bush, chief officer of Cayman Islands Ministry of Home Affairs, in July 2013 – reaffirming a similar statement of support for the Tory peer sent in March 2013 by then-Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly.

Mr. Bush’s email punctuated a six-month revolt by two Caymanian staffers in London who refused to respect the authority of Lord Blencathra, who at the time was on contract with Cayman’s government to operate as the head of the London office and as Cayman’s chief lobbyist in the U.K.

The “total dysfunction” in the London office humiliated Cayman on the international stage, leading the head of the U.K. Overseas Territories Association to declare, “Cayman really need to get their act together; it is embarrassing.”

The collection of emails from the two staffers – whose grammar and spelling dishonor the authors as well as their Caymanian schools – illustrate unacceptable contempt and racially tinged hauteur that has no place on the world stage – or at home.

Where to begin?

First, let us establish that Lord Blencathra (formerly David MacLean of Scotland) was an ideal figure to represent the interests of Cayman in London. To describe him as “well-connected” would be an injustice to the Conservative member of the House of Lords.

In brief, Lord Blencathra was in the perfect position to give Cayman an outsize voice in the machinations of Mother England. Since his appointment by the United Democratic Party government in 2011, Lord Blencathra has been highly effective in the dispensation of his duties – perhaps too effective, as evidenced by the strong adverse reaction from his U.K. political opponents, who, after Lord Blencathra was cleared of any wrongdoing in relation to his Cayman contract in 2012, changed parliamentary rules to prohibit House of Lords peers from lobbying the U.K. government at all.

Lord Blencathra left the service of Cayman’s government in March of this year when his contract ended.
The same traits that made Lord Blencathra a good choice for Cayman – his connections, position, professionalism and erudition – presumably would have made him an excellent individual with whom to forge a strong working relationship. Just imagine the potential career paths for a Caymanian granted the rare privilege to learn at the knee of a Tory peer and former longtime member of the House of Commons.

Instead of seizing the opportunity, the two London office staffers insisted on playing the tired game of parochial politics and victimization, indignantly squealing over reasonable requests by Lord Blencathra to monitor employee engagements, approve foreign travel and make cost-saving decisions on office accommodations.

The ultimate appeal of one staffer was to “my people in Cayman, where I am employed and to whom I report” – in other words, “We’ll see what my friends and family back home have to say about this.”

We’d like to know, too.

The chief officer, Mr. Bush, acted appropriately by declaring without equivocation that Lord Blencathra was the boss in July 2013. But why did it take so long to settle once and for all the fundamental question of who was in charge? Who concocted the message in January 2013 that Lord Blencathra was no longer head of the London office?

How low has the bar been set in Cayman’s public sector that continual months of open insubordination and rank unprofessionalism (not to mention a lack of basic manners), which disgraced our country in the eyes of the international community, ultimately resulted in a written warning?

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Bush announced that four Caymanian candidates had been short-listed to replace Lord Blencathra in his role as administrative head of the London office, whereas the lobbying part of his contract would be fulfilled by a separate person.

Now, we don’t know who has applied for the position, but if either of the two disgruntled staffers wins the top post, it will demonstrate once and for all the complete lack of accountability in Cayman’s government.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Sad to see this sense of entitlement and disrespect by Caymanians travels overseas, especially when it impairs the ability of your foreign office to serve your home land’s interest.

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