The continuing silence from British officials in regard to the “withdrawal” of Governor Anwar Choudhury is fueling speculation, gossip and rumor – in other words, tabloid fodder.
Enter the recent article by the U.K.’s Daily Mail, which we summarized on the front page of Monday’s Cayman Compass. The unsubstantiated “dirt” dished out by the Daily Mail is the first time the purported contents of the official complaint against the Mr. Choudhury have found their way into print.
We will be frank: The material yielded by Compass reporting does not meet the threshold for publication, in terms of transparency, verifiability and legality.
However, the Daily Mail – being what it is, and being located where it is – has far different standards from the Compass. And so they went to press with what they had, and placed into the public discourse information that, while unconfirmed, does great reputational harm to Mr. Choudhury.
Citing anonymous “sources in Britain and the Caymans,” the Daily Mail outlines accusations against Mr. Choudhury, including “bullying and shouting at staff,” asking “a maid to massage his shirtless back, though there is no suggestion of sexual impropriety,” engaging in “a drunken row with his elderly mother-in-law,” “misbehavior toward his wife,” and asking “the maids to nanny his baby daughter.”
Even if all of the above were true – and there is no evidence offered whatsoever that it is – we would ask the question, “Is that all there is?”
Shouting? Asking someone to baby-sit? … Arguing with his mother-in-law? … (Greeting card lines and comic strips have been created around this cliché.)
The only thing the Daily Mail’s report makes clear is that the FCO and Governor’s Office must be far more forthcoming about Mr. Choudhury’s removal. They are hiding behind the tired, but often-invoked bromide, “We can’t comment because we don’t want to interfere with an ongoing investigation.”
Not all lips in Cayman are locked as tightly as the FCO’s. We do not doubt that Mr. Choudhury was unpopular among some working at Government House and the Government Administration Building. When a leader arrives as an “agent of change,” a predictable reaction among subordinates is – rather than making those changes – to attempt to change the change agent.
We know that some of Mr. Choudhury’s employees were disgruntled and were talking about it, freely, incessantly and liberally to whomever would listen. These conversations included details about the personal lives of the governor and his family. To be clear, we aren’t talking about complaints of official misconduct (which, if formally lodged through official channels in good faith, should be protected), but plain-old, “upstairs/downstairs,” marl road gossip.
Such lack of discretion should be grounds for immediate termination. The Governor’s Office is aware of the behavior to which we refer but, to our knowledge, has yet to hold anyone accountable.
The FCO and, by proxy, the Governor’s Office find themselves in a extremely difficult position. They have yanked our new governor, clearly popular with the people of these islands, without even offering a cursory accusation or a scintilla of evidence of wrongdoing. That very act, in and of itself, might have career-ending consequences for Mr. Choudhury, a 15-year veteran of the British foreign service who rose to the coveted rank of foreign ambassador before being tapped for the governor’s post in these Cayman Islands.
Now they are asking the indulgence of the people of these islands, and this newspaper, to simply “trust them” until their “official investigation” is completed.
We have two observations:
- The FCO’s reputation for “trustworthiness” has been well-established by their behavior during incidents such as the Eurobank scandal and Operation Tempura. Ask former RCIPS Commissioner Stuart Kernohan what he thinks about the trustworthiness of the FCO and their Cayman representative, former governor Stuart Jack.
- No self-respecting newspaper trusts blindly in any government. Why should it?
The Compass will get to the truth of this matter, and when we do, we will publish it. Mr. Choudhury may never return to the Cayman Islands, but we will certainly be returning to this subject.