Readers may recall that at the Mad Hatter’s affair, insolvable riddles – “Why is a raven like a writing desk”? – were put forth as reasonable conversation and the meanings of words were meaningless.
In the Mad Hatter’s world, “transparency” and “opacity” might well be synonyms.
Upon assuming her role as governor, Helen Kilpatrick said she welcomed commitments from the Cayman Islands to boost transparency in its financial services sector. However, the only thing quintessentially transparent with the never-ending Operation Tempura debacle is the lack of transparency.
Let us explain:
On Monday, Mrs. Kilpatrick issued a statement in response to Acting Information Commissioner Jan Liebaers’s order to release records sought under a Freedom of Information request relating to the ill-fated Operation Tempura investigation.
Although the Governor’s Office has unsuccessfully fought the required release of the documents – which were requested in 2012 – through the courts once before, Mrs. Kilpatrick said she has sought leave for judicial review of Mr. Liebaers’s ruling, an action which will likely take several more months and untold thousands of dollars to pursue.
There are several aspects of Mrs. Kilpatrick’s decision that are troubling, starting with the fact that she waited until the last possible day before announcing she was putting the matter back before the court.
The language used by Mrs. Kilpatrick in her short statement on Monday suggested she was unsure whether there were any real reasons to withhold the information, using phrases such as “I believe” and “I am concerned” in relation to possible impacts on pending court cases and court orders as her justification for not releasing the documents.
We would hope that Mrs. Kilpatrick has sought legal advice on such matters to ensure that her beliefs and concerns were legally, not personally, warranted.
She also said she was concerned that releasing the information was not in the public interest.
Considering that Operation Tempura has cost the taxpayers of the Cayman Islands more than $10 million, ended careers, led to false arrests and still presents a number of unanswered questions, we don’t see how anyone could contend that it wouldn’t have been in the public’s interest to know more about what really happened in this saga.
Instead of leading by example when it comes to transparency, Mrs. Kilpatrick and her FCO associates have sent us off on yet another horse for another long ride through yet another legal labyrinth.
Everyone even remotely knowledgeable about the Tempura case already knows it was, to use an appropriate British term, a right royal cock-up. The proof is apparent in the court settlements that have already been paid to Justice Alex Henderson, former Commissioner of Police Stuart Kernohan, and former RCIPS officers Rudy Dixon and Burmon Scott.
What’s more, the endless investigation did not lead to a single conviction; it damaged the reputation of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service; and it harmed the international reputation of the Cayman Islands. Seven years later, aspects of Tempura still hover over the country like a dark cloud.
It is time the Governor’s Office truly exhibits transparency on this issue no matter how bad it might look, so that everyone can put this unfortunate episode in U.K.-Cayman Islands relations behind them.