The Cayman Islands Premier’s Office has declined to name the four “short-listed” candidates being considered for appointment to the head of Cayman’s London office, following the departure of the office’s former director, Lord Blencathra.
Ministry of Home Affairs chief officer Eric Bush said earlier this month that nine candidates, all Caymanian, had initially been considered for the position, with four of those making the first cut for the job. However, neither he nor Premier Alden McLaughlin would state whether the two Cayman Islands London office employees about whom Lord Blencathra complained to the government were on the short-list for the final selection.
“The position of director of the Cayman Islands government office in London has been advertised,” a statement from the premier’s office noted.
Lord Blencathra’s complaint, filed in July 2013 – about nine months before his contract ended – indicated that he had been left idle for nearly two months in 2013 after statements indicating he was “no longer in charge,” leaving the highly paid lobbyist unable to work with U.K. government officials or the British foreign office.
“The London office is totally dysfunctional and it will have to be sorted out one way or another before we have a real catastrophe on our hands,” Lord Blencathra wrote in a June 2013 email to Cayman Islands government chief officer Dax Basdeo and Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose. “If the Hon. Premier wants to cancel my contract, then so be it. But if not, then two people in the office must start behaving professionally.”
A number of other claims made by Lord Blencathra, not initially reported by the Cayman Compass Monday, detailed the “rude behavior” of some of his staff members in the London office.
The ‘Black Rod’ incident
On Jan. 22, 2013, a Cayman delegation including the then-premier and deputy premier attended the U.K. House of Lords, with Lord Blencathra and another representative of the London office in attendance.
“The whole delegation were reminded that taking photographs was forbidden but [the London office employee – name redacted] persisted even when the attorney general told him to stop,” Lord Blencathra, formerly David MacLean of Scotland, wrote in the complaint to the Cayman Islands government.
He continued, “The end result was that our group was reprimanded by two different police officers and I had to write to Black Rod [referring to the Gentlemen Usher of the Black Rod guards in the House of Lords] to apologize.
“The [London office employee] repeatedly refused to give me an apology which I could pass on. That brought the Cayman Islands into disrepute and was gross disobedience of a legitimate instruction ….”
Email records obtained by the Cayman Compass show that Lord Blencathra wrote to the employee seeking an apology over the incident to pass on to the Black Rod guards. After that message was not responded to for a week, the Lord wrote the staffer again and received a reply.
“I did respond before because I am a very busy man and don’t have the time to pay attention to your latest set of vindictive and malicious accusations,” the staffer’s email stated. “If you don’t have anything better to occupy the time the Cayman Islands is paying you for, feel free to spend your time trying to belittle and demean me and let’s see how that goes for you.”
Lord Blencathra also reported that, on the afternoon of Friday, May 31, 2013, he and Mr. Basdeo were notified that a London office employee had set up a teleconference for the next Monday morning with the premier and other leaders of the British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean. At that point, Mr. McLaughlin and his newly formed government had been in office a total of nine days following the May 2013 general election. “This was in the run-up to a crucial G8 meeting which I and the finance ministry team had been working on for months,” Lord Blencathra wrote. “The Cabinet secretary also knew nothing about it and when we enquired how this call had come about we discovered that [the London office employee] received the initial teleconference request from the British Virgin Islands on May 24 and decided to arrange it without consulting me.
“The chief officer of financial services [ministry] … was given no opportunity to brief the premier on whether or not to do [the teleconference],” he continued. “The call was largely a waste of time, but it could have been politically damaging.”
Mr. Basdeo emailed the London office employee urging that Lord Blencathra be called in on “any discussions that come up.”