UK sends senior diplomat to head up governor’s office

| 20/07/2016 | 18 Comments
Cayman News Service

Matthew Forbes

(CNS): In the midst of huge political changes in the UK and its Foreign Office, and with British territories facing an uncertain future, a new face has arrived in Cayman to head up the governor’s office. But Matthew Forbes is a considerably more senior civil servant than those who are usually sent to fill what is a middle level job. He was described by officials here “as a seasoned diplomat” with nearly three decades of experience working for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, having served in very senior positions in Africa and Asia.

According to a release from the governor’s office, he also brings experience in crisis response and internal audit to his new role managing the operations of the crown’s representative in the Cayman Islands.

Although the governor’s role in local affairs has diminished over the years, the officer holder still has the final say in the laws that are passed and the running of the country. The current governor, Helen Kilpatrick, presides over the meetings of Cabinet and is responsible for the civil service, the police and security, as well as international relations. Other responsibilities include semi-consular duties for British citizens in the Cayman Islands.

Kilpatrick, who is Cayman’s first female governor, was also the first not to come from the diplomatic corp, transferring to the FCO from the Home Office. She has kept a low profile since coming to Cayman and has tried to avoid the line of fire in the face of some sticky situations around her area of responsibility, including the lack of confidence in the former police commissioner, David Baines, by local politicians.

There was no explanation in the official release from the Government Information Service why such a senior FCO official has been appointed to head up what is a very small office in terms of the wider British diplomatic service. Forbes has previously held the posts of deputy consul general in Shanghai and the British high commissioner to Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles. In recognition of his long and established career, he was awarded an OBE in the 2007 Queen’s honours for services to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

A licensed pilot and certified diver, which is unlikely to be the only reason he has been appointed to Cayman, he is married with four children and steps into the shoes of the former head of the governor’s office, Gary Benham, whose posting to the jurisdiction ended last week. He has now taken up a new posting based in London.

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Comments (18)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps he will be the new governor and just having a look around. In reference of the custos of old,, please spare us that balarny. Most of them were ignorant and as corrupt and conniving as any modern day official could ever be. Back then they had all opportunities lock in to particular families and friends. At least now people from all walks of life has a bit more opportunity to get a slice of the pie. When you are regaling them remember your privilege back then and cast a backward glance at others from neighboring areas and remember how they were treated. They has to servive by washing your dirty floors, raking your yards, cooking your food but dare not come through the front door.

  2. Just Watchin says:

    UK acknowledgement of what we knew – Helen Kilpatrick is a waste of time, and or money.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not an uncommon outcome in a world of positive discrimination as a priority over selection on the basis of talent.

  3. Pit Bull says:

    As long as he puts nation first and regions second, all will be well. All the best, sir, and God Save The Queen.

  4. Unka Dart says:

    CNS, does he have military experience?

  5. Anonymous says:

    New Sheriff In town . No need now for a Commissioner of Police . Just saying . Get ready HE/She/It/They are all a- coming lol

  6. Who Dares Wins says:

    Experienced MI6 officer required to aid a clueless Governor Kilpatrick since she lost her pit bull David Baines

    • Anonymous says:

      Pit bull? More like a seeing eye dog.

    • Anonymous says:

      To “Who Dares Whines”, maybe HMG should appoint McKeeva as Governor with Bernie as his right hand puppet and see where that gets us.

      • Who Dares Wins says:

        Nobody with sense wants to see them in charge of anything outside of WB.

        However, we expect her ‘highness’ H.E. Kilpatrick to take her head out of the sandy beaches and do more than champion the LGBT agenda. Mr. Forbes is here now to prop her up

    • Anonymous says:

      Who Dare Wins, how dare you? I have met H.E. a few times and find her level headed, educated, fair-minded and qualified (unlike the political fools and cronies running around pretending to be Caymanian leaders these days.) Our Custos forefathers would be ashamed of today’s elected muppets. Welcome Mr Forbes, a seasoned diplomat will be refreshing.

      • Who Dares Wins says:

        Her performance in the BBC documentary demonstrated how qualified she is to speak on matters involving the Cayman Islands.

        The descendents of the Custos you referenced are modern day pirates with implecable manners and flashy vehicles

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wow, must be something important coming down the road for Cayman soon?
    What with our new hotel opening this year, they’ll need to get everything ready.

  8. Anonymous says:

    times have been changing for a longtime ! what else is new ?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Watch out Cayman, times are a changing.

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