Opposition queries integrity of governor inquiry

| 30/07/2018 | 49 Comments
Cayman News Service

Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller in the LA

(CNS): The opposition leader has raised a number of concerns about the suspension of Governor Anwar Choudhury and the integrity of the Foreign Office investigation into complaints about him. Ezzard Miller has written to Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the FCO’s overseas territories minister, and sent a memo to Acting Governor Franz Manderson questioning the claimed fairness of the inquiry, the length of time it’s taking and the role of Matthew Forbes, the head of the governor’s office, following speculation that he could be a complainant. 

The UK’s silence about the allegations against the governor following his recall to London last month and the lack of certainty about when this inquiry will conclude is causing considerable conjecture in the community.

It is understood that the inquiry was sparked by complaints about bullying and harassment of staff, though nothing has been confirmed, leading to speculation that the whole thing is politically motivated and related to Choudhury’s direct approach to improving the management of the civil service.

However, there is no evidence that this is the case, and the real reasons for Choudhury’s suspension remain hidden.

In his letter and memo Miller noted that the lack of information is leading to increasing speculation. But he also raised a number of concerns about the way the investigation is being handled and the role of Forbes, who, in the absence of the governor, is currently the only FCO representative in Cayman who answers directly to the UK.

Miller questioned whether Forbes was the “chief complainer” or a conduit for the complaints, which would make him conflicted. However, Forbes’ role in the affair remains unknown as the governor’s office has been silent on the subject of the complaints, including how they were made and by whom.

In his letter to Lord Ahmad, Miller said the ongoing situation was undermining the relationship between the UK and Cayman, and that the “nebulous and loaded language” used so far was fuelling “widespread speculation and suspicion in the community about the treatment of Mr Choudhury”.

Miller said that, given Choudhury’s rapid popularity with Caymanians, who regarded him as a “breath of fresh air offering hope for much needed change”, his withdrawal was putting the progress made in mending relations at risk.

“As Leader of the Opposition, I share the concern of the Caymanian people about the way the so-called investigation is being handled, especially with respect to the poor management of communication,” he said, pointing to the short letter to the media, dated 26 July and co-signed by Manderson and Forbes, following the circulation of a petition to reinstate Choudhury.

“As I am sure you will appreciate, the Choudhury investigation is a matter than needs to be concluded with great alacrity. I hope that you will find it possible to exercise some influence in bringing this matter to a quick and satisfactory conclusion,” Miller wrote.

Meanwhile, in a much longer memo addressed to Acting Governor Manderson, the opposition leader raised wider concerns about last week’s letter to the press. Though the letter is signed by both Manderson and Forbes, he wrote, “I am unclear as to the author of this letter, as the comments regarding you and your service are stated in the third person”.

Miller suggested that it was inappropriate for Forbes, “a junior officer” to Manderson, to comment on the actions of the acting governor, and he asked for clarification on his role and title.

While in the absence of the governor, Manderson has stepped into the role of acting governor, Forbes, who is theoretically subordinate to him, ultimately answers directly to London and signed his name as “Head of the Governor’s Office” in that letter.

The opposition leader is also seeking clarity on Forbes’ role in the complaints and whether he is merely a conduit or an actual complainer. He said that “it cannot possibly be appropriate for a complainant to be party to communication on an investigation that was triggered by him or her”. He added, “This would be a clear suggestion of bias and would seriously undermine the public’s confidence that the investigation will lead to a trustworthy outcome.”

The failure of both Manderson and Forbes to provide an actual update on the inquiry, despite referring to the media statement as such, also angered Miller, who pointed out that their letter to the media made it clear that no update would be given now or in the foreseeable future.

“Aside from the letter’s attempt to offer a misleading palliative to the public, it has raised grave concern among Caymanians about the protracted nature of the ‘investigation’, and the public interest is not served by issuing empty statements,” he added.

Questioning the claim of “robust policies” to protect the investigation and confidentiality, Miller asked whether the governor had been offered the same protection because for more than six weeks his name has been associated with an unspecified investigation, resulting in public speculation and aspersions about the nature of the allegations.

Given the lack of comment about anyone retaining confidence in the absent governor until the completion of the investigation and the “conspicuous absence of these normal courtesies”, Miller suggested that he had already been condemned.

The time line is also an issue for Miller, who pointed out that the FCO had predicted a maximum of six weeks for the inquiry. But it is now more than six weeks since Choudhury’s removal and no one is able to predict when the case will be concluded. “At this point the FCO should be in a better position to assess the time needed to complete the process,” Miller wrote.

The opposition leader also referred to unsubstantiated rumours about the return of former governor Helen Kilpatrick as interim governor, fuelled by her recent visit to Grand Cayman to see her daughter, who remained in Cayman after her mother’s departure.

CNS has reached out to the governor’s office for comment on all of the issues raised and we are awaiting a response.

See the correspondence from Miller in the CNS Library

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Category: Government Administration, Local News, Politics

Comments (49)

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  1. Amjed zureigat says:

    I support what Mr Miller said he is right

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    • Anonymous says:

      This entire governor thing is a Hugh embarrassment for this Island and it’s people. Hugh !

      Since when we make it our business to pry into people’s personal lives to this level? Yes it’s the governor’s personal life ! Wife? Mother in law? Did any of these people have an issue with the man? Do we know how long he was married to that woman?

      There is Hugh character damage being inflicted here. Read between the lines!

      Embarrassing. No merit to any of the “complaints” mentioned.

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  2. West Bay Premier says:

    If everyone got behind Mr Miller and supported and pushed him , you will get the real good Governor back. And forget about those Politicians that aren’t interested in bringing him back .

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Opposition members for standing Up and questioning this. We want our Governor back.

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    • Ron Ebanks says:

      If you people are scared to sign the petition to bring back Mr. Choudhury , you will be foolish and stupid to sign the new petition to PERMANENTLY APPOINT MR. MANDERSON TO BE GOVERNOR .

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Never make decision without the facts.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    If you really want to know who Franz Manderson is, just ask a few persons that worked at the DOI when he was Chief; the stories would make you sick. We need HE Choudhury back here to clean up this mess as the politicians are one of the same without the political will to clean it up. They all loved Helen Kilpatrick as she did absolutely nothing during her time here

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  6. Anonymous says:

    007 at its best!!!???? ha ha ha

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ezard is controlled opposition. He likes his pay cheque. He will not press this issue, guaranteed.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    The behaviour of the FCO so far, and based on what has been told to the Caymanian people, is very unfortunate indeed. It suggests a lack of respect for Cayman that I find disappointing. After the smelly mess of the whole Tempura matter, which cost Cayman millions, and today seems not to be resolved or transparent, the Caymanian public have very little trust in the FCO, and it is not hard to see why. Then recently we had the Windrush scandal which did not exactly paint HM Govt. in shiny colours. If Britain is to be respected by it’s former colonies and O.T.s then it will have to do a hell of a lot better, or maybe the future of the Commonwealth may soon be at risk, as the leader seems to be very lacking in diplomacy or integrity.

    Someone other than the D.G. or Forbes should publicly clarify the Governor’s real status.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Big Mac is not on the attack and that’s a fact because of the trust he lack that Gov. Manderson won’t smack Mac back a tack.

    Mac is taking his time, seeing how this plays out so he can plot and scheme his next move. After all you want to be buddy buddy with the right person and not left held out on some political oblivion doorstep.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Am I the only one who has noticed something strange about Mr Choudhury’s appointment? His age!

    Shortly after his recall to the UK the Governor celebrated his 59th birthday. Nothing strange about that except UK civil servants as this level (Stuart Jack is an obviously example) normally retire at 60. In fact the way the FCO works he would not normally have been re-appointed at this age but would either have worked to retirement in his last posting or been re-assigned to a desk job in the UK.

    So what the heck is going on here?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Are you seriously suggesting that multitude of our gray and white haired governors were under the age of 60? LOL

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      • Anonymous says:

        No I’m not suggesting it – it’s a fact that you could have checked before posting that childish comment.

        Look on the list – Peter Smith, Bruce Dinwiddy, Stuart Jack, Duncan Taylor and Helen Kilpatrick all left here either at 60 (at least two went straight into retirement) or before they hit 60. I flew in on the same flight as John Wynne Owen in October 1995, when he left in 1999 it was straight into retirement. Peter Smith, his successor, did the same. If you check further back it’s been the same since the 1970s. I think you’ll also find the same age pattern in TCI going back to 1973 when their first Governor was appointed.

        There may have been Governors here in the distant past who were over 60 but things have changed a lot since then. My late father was in the UK civil service when he turned 60 back in 1982 and he was given the choice of either retiring or carrying on with a mandatory down-grading to a basic clerical job.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard, I thought that you were spot on with everything noted. However, why did you not mention the petition that is now being circulated to gather signatures for the appointment of Franz Manderson as the Governor of the Cayman Islands? This is all too messy right now! We need people who are going to stand up and help us clean this place up. And Franz is not the man for the “seed of the soil” propaganda that they are pushing. Even if we felt that Cayman “needed” a Caymanian Governor, it certainly is not that man.

    The other thing that I noted was that the petition is calling for 500 signatures. It should have been the same criteria used when we were voting for OMOV. it certainly wasn’t 500 then.

    Does anyone know who is behind that petition by the way?

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    • Anonymous says:

      In order for a people initiated referendum you need to get 1/4 of the number of registered voters to sign a petition (roughly 21,000 registered voters so 5000 odd signatures

      This petition (the one for Choudhury not Manderson) is addressed to the FCO not the CIG so there is no need to reach 5000 they just need as many as possible to show solidarity

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m a fifth generation Caymanian and I pray that this DOES NOT happen. We are in a big enough mess as it is with this Government it would be ten times worse with Franz as Governor. I’m beginning to think this is the reason for this entire situation. Franz wants the post and has colluded with Forbes to try to accomplish it. Sad not to mention disgusting. This Governor was on the verge of mashing up the DG’s dolly house and he could not allow that to happen.

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    • Anonymous says:

      3:21 I wonder if Franz deported you.

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      • Anonymous says:

        11.22, I’m poster 3.21 – just to have you know, I’m a born Caymanian of many many many generations. That’s another problem here in Cayman. You people seem to believe that just because people aren’t singing the same sluggish, dull, stupid, hogwash song, or drinking the muddy koolaid, that they are EXPATS! Makes me sick. Really sick, actually. He couldn’t deport me if he tried. My navel string planted right here. Made here. Born here. Most likely gonna die here too. #endofrant

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    • Anonymous says:

      Miller’s letter was spot on. Not often I agree with him. Perhaps the reason he didn’t mention the petition is that it is a pathetic waste of time that the FCO will pay as much attention to as these comments. The petition is childish and frankly embarrassing anyone thinks it is of the slightest importance.

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    • Anonymous says:

      M………….A……………C.

    • Anonymous says:

      This second petition became news after the memo was drafted to Acting Governor Manderson.

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    • Observer says:

      3:21 pm, hmmn, this is an interesting proposal, but I wonder whether this is feasible under our current constitutional status.

      My knowledge of these things is limited, but I have always understood that the option for a local Governor General only became available after very significant constitutional advancement, if not independence.

      Most people I know do not agree that independence is an option, at least at this time.

      So not saying ya nor nay against the petition, but I am not sure how this petition could be implemented.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe Big Mac has nothing to say. He’s been telling us about the fco for years

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  13. SMH says:

    The silence from the Premier and his Cabinet is deafening. Still trying to play nice with the U.K. no matter what. SMH

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    • Anonymous says:

      This issue is simply not the business of territorial local authorities. This is an issue for the UK and the UK alone. The Governor is the UK’s representative and who the Governor is, and how their tenure is managed is an issue for London not George Town.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Here, here.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Except that Cayman pays for him and the conduct apparently occured here. In fact it’s not really clear whether or how the FCO’s HR rules apply since everyone but Forbes is on Cayman’s payroll. Forbes is obviously a potential witness so why is he sending out the press releases?

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        • Anonymous says:

          None of that makes any difference to the issue. This is an issue about the UK’s man in Cayman not a Cayman civil servant.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you Mr Englishman!

      • Anonymous says:

        Pit Bull, good to hear from you again, old chap!

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        • Pit Bull says:

          I concur with the poster’s sentiment. But if Pit Bull wants to say it Pit Bull says it. It is jolly bad form to have this sort of irrational campaigning at any time. To do this sort of thing during the summer holidays, that is just not done. Toodle pip, the test matches start again soon. Hurrah.

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          • Anonymous says:

            But England are as rubbish at cricket these days as they are at sending us Governors, old boy.

          • Anonymous says:

            Sitting Bull agree with his paleface brother Pit Bull. Jolly bad form. But Sitting Bull say India will put kibosh and Little Big Horn on Pit Bull and England in the test matches.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is silly to say that the governor’s tenure or the handling of it is not an issue for Cayman. One does have to respect the FCO’s experience with self-inflicted hot messes.

      • Anonymous says:

        4:56: and they are doing a helluva job.

    • Anonymous says:

      You all don’t see that it probably suits them that the Governor is no longer here!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thankfully Ezzard has taken that step!

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