Lord Blencathra: Who should apologize to whom?

In the early hours of Thursday morning, Lord Blencathra was tasked with the most unpleasant of duties — public humility.

The Tory peer has been forced to apologize before colleagues and rivals for breaching the Code of Conduct of the U.K. House of Lords, in relation to an agreement he signed with the Cayman Islands.

The officially sanctioned act of contrition to be delivered by Lord Blencathra begins, “Although I never actually provided nor intended to provide parliamentary services to the Cayman Islands Government in return for payment, I acknowledge and deeply regret that I entered into a written contract under which I was apparently committed to provide such services …”

Lord Blencathra may be the one who has been ordered to dine on crow, but Cayman deserves a place at the table right next to him, sharing in that meal.

The former head of Cayman’s London Office erred, as he now admits, when he signed a contract with Cayman that contained an improper provision about lobbying members of U.K. Parliament.

However, a contractual agreement requires the involvement of more than one party. In this case, the other signature on the document belongs to Chief Officer Dax Basdeo on behalf of Cayman’s Ministry of Finance, Tourism and Development.

Not only should Lord Blencathra have never signed that version of the contract — which ran from November 2011 to November 2012, when the offending clause was excised — but Mr. Basdeo should never have signed it, either.

Indeed, it is difficult for us to imagine how such patently inappropriate language could have 1) found its way into a public legal document; and 2) not been removed after it was flagged by Lord Blencathra as being problematic, before the agreement was signed.

As it turned out, the shoddy contract was merely the preamble to the peer’s Cayman-caused tribulations. Our government officials should also be apologizing to Lord Blencathra for subjecting him to our dysfunctional homegrown culture of entitlement which manifested itself in a six-month revolt by two disgruntled Caymanian staffers, whose brazen insubordination was, in the words of the head of the U.K. Overseas Territories Association, “embarrassing” to Cayman.

As of late June, the Premier’s Office was considering four “short-listed” candidates to take over as director of the London Office. The government won’t say whether the two current staffers are among the four finalists, but the ascension of either to the top post would, in our opinion, cause considerable damage to Cayman’s reputation in the U.K.

In his spoken words, written correspondence and prepared statements, Lord Blencathra has maintained the comportment of a gentleman, conducting himself with professionalism and taking every opportunity to speak well of Cayman, even after his contract ended in March.

In April, during the investigation into his conduct (the initiation of which he requested), Lord Blencathra took to the defense of our islands, writing to the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards, “I find the hostile comments about Cayman and its people to be quite despicable. The vast majority have British nationality, have been totally loyal to the Crown for the last 300 years and they do not deserve to be denigrated as if they were criminals.”

Let us emphasize that Lord Blencathra has been cleared of engaging in any act of misconduct — the issue has always been the wording in the contract, not his behavior.

As far as the actual performance of his duties, Lord Blencathra in our opinion was an ideal representative of Cayman’s interests, setting a standard that will be a challenge for any future successor to exceed, but which certainly cannot be matched by any malcontents who bring to their posts a level of boorishness that has no place on the world stage.

1 COMMENT

  1. Who told Dax Basdeo to sign the Contract. Was Blencathra not required, by any standards of Due Diligence, to check the wording of the Contract, and determine if it passed the essential sniff tests of the Standards Committee of the House of Lords. It is hard to believe that a Peer of the Realm might so easily turn a blind eye to his ethical responsibilities, in consequence of the prospect of receiving a fee, purportedly, of as much as 19,000 a month. He must have been very badly advised by his legal staff………

  2. Editor and staff of the Cayman Compass, for what it is worth, I applaud you for saying what needed to be said.

    Although I was hoping a little more in detail dissection of the comments made by Lord Blencathra re. The UK perception of Cayman and it,s business. Indeed it is A well spoken justification for being commissioned to lobby, but why this perception by the UK.

    What was the statement again, a conglomerate of pariah businesses.. No rebuttal from the foreign office, no soothing reassurance from our governing representatives, just the diplomatic walk through the thorns of fighting words by the Compass, words left to echo unanswered, which they themselves would seek an apology. Cayman being gobbled up, is that the report by the forward observation post..

  3. I think the best that can be said about Blencathra’s appointment was that it was a better option than promoting any of the existing staff.

    The problem was he came into the job with a great big target painted on his forehead. Check out – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5336359/David-Maclean-expense-claims-of-MP-who-led-fight-to-keep-payouts-secret.html – and bear in mind that comes from the right-wing press.

    What ever his abilities, his past was always going to drag him down but clearly nobody at CIG factored that in.

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