The Cayman Islands government’s months-long attempts to bring in a new director for its London office have failed for the time being.
According to officials in the Ministry of Home Affairs, the $96,000 to $117,500 per year position will have to be re-advertised.
The London office director serves as Cayman’s chief advocate in the U.K. and Europe, particularly for its financial services industry interests, and in intergovernmental relations between London and the Cayman Islands. The director’s position has not been filled since the Cayman government’s contract with Lord Blencathra, formerly David MacLean of Scotland, ended on March 31 amid a torrent of controversy.
A replacement for Lord Blencathra, who is British, had been selected following a recruitment process from within the Cayman Islands civil service ranks, but the successful candidate was never formally announced.
It was understood that the candidate did not accept the position after it was offered.
Government officials had hoped the appointment of a new director would serve to smooth over a rocky period for the office.
Three months after Lord Blencathra’s $200,000 per year contract with the Cayman Islands government ended, details of what had been occurring during his tenure as London office director were revealed by the Cayman Compass.
Among the issues were that Lord Blencathra was left idle for nearly two months in 2013. Statements indicated he was “no longer in charge,” leaving the highly paid lobbyist unable to work with U.K. government officials or the British foreign office.
A complaint filed by Lord Blencathra with the Cayman Islands government cited the “rude behavior” of some of his staff members in the London office. The House of Lords representative served as Cayman’s London office director and the territory’s chief lobbyist in Europe between late 2011 and March 2014.
“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.”
Angry and sometimes expletive-laced emails obtained by the Cayman Compass that went back and forth last year between Lord Blencathra, members of the London office staff and the local government in Cayman, reveal a culture of bickering, backbiting and bureaucratic delay in the office that interfered with the territory’s ability to present its message effectively. The former London office director also flagged instances where the situation caused other overseas territories leaders to tell Cayman to “get its act together” and which led the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office to temporarily cut off communications with the U.K. Lord.
The Cayman Compass later learned that neither of the two employees who verbally sparred with Lord Blencathra had been selected as his replacement.
In July, Lord Blencathra was forced to apologize to the U.K. House of Lords over the contract he had initially signed with the Cayman Islands government.
While maintaining he did not lobby U.K. Parliament members improperly, serving as both director of the Cayman Islands London office and as a peer, Lord Blencathra acknowledged that the first contract he signed with the Cayman government suggested that he might be able to perform such lobbying duties.
It is against the rules in the House of Lords for members to lobby parliament in return for payment or other reward.
“The [U.K.] Commissioner [for Standards] finds that by agreeing to a contract which would involve the provision of parliamentary services Lord Blencathra breached paragraph 8(d) of the [House of Lords] Code of Conduct,” a report from the House of Lords subcommittee on Lords conduct issued July 8 stated. “Although the commissioner finds that there is no evidence that Lord Blencathra in fact provided such services, the mere existence of that contractual term put him in breach of the code.”
Lord Blencathra had earlier stated that while he did lobby U.K. government civil servants and other officials, he never attempted to influence the elected members of the U.K. Parliament while serving as Cayman’s London office director between December 2011 and March 2014.