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.