Access denied to LA register

| 30/03/2011

(CNS): A member of the public has filed a complaint with the governor after he was refused access to the register which records the business interests of the members of the Legislative Assembly. Despite making an appointment on the telephone with the LA office to see the Register of Interests, which is a public document, the voter was denied his right when he arrived at the Assembly building, having travelled from East End last Friday. The man was told by LA staff on arrival that he would not be able to look at the register as it was “being updated”. Shocked by the refusal, McCarron McLaughlin was not prepared to take the dismissal lying down and contacted both the Governor’s Office and the information commissioner to formally complain.

According to the law, any member of the public who makes a request to see the Register of Interests should be allowed to do so. An appointment usually has to be made because viewing of the register has to be supervised in order to prevent people from taking sheets from it or copying the contents with a camera, but once an appointment is confirmed the requester is at liberty to scrutinise the contents.

Each member of the LA files a list of the businesses they own and the various directorships and shareholdings they have in commercial entities, as well as the property they own over and above their normal residence. The register is designed to prevent conflicts of interests and allows the public to judge if their representatives may face conflicts of interests over their business and public service.

McCarron McLaughlin told CNS he was very surprised that, after making a firm appointment, he was refused access to the register, despite claims that it was being updated. “I could not understand why I couldn’t see the register ‘as is’,” McLaughlin said, adding that while he was no legal scholar he believed it was against the law to deny a person their right to see the register. “I feel if my appointment was accepted they have no reason to stop me from seeing the register.”

Section 3(3) of the Register of Interest Law 1996 states, “The register shall be open for public inspection at the office of the [LA] at all times during normal business hours.” Even if the staff were updating the register it should not have interfered with McLaughlin’s right to see it.

The register itself is merely a ring-binder with sheets containing the details that each of the members have disclosed prior to each election and, as is required during their period of office, when their business circumstances, property ownership, share-holdings or directorships change.

The updating of the register should not involve any removal of previous information about a member. As a result, there appears to be no reason why any member of the public who has a confirmed appointment to see the register should be refused access.

The Commission for Standards in Public Life revealed the difficulties it had also encountered in its efforts to see the register in particular entries. In its first report the CSPL pointed out that it was unable to verify if there were any perceived conflicts of interest or anomalies in relation to any of the declarations made by members in the past or present, as mandated by the register of interests law (ROIL), or if the register was compliant with the law.

The news of the denial comes in the wake of revelations by the independent member for North Side that the legislative committee which is supposed to oversee the register, chaired by Ellio Solomon, has never met since its formation almost two years ago. Despite being obliged under the law to have produced at the very least one report, the committee members have never come together to discuss a report, never mind write one, making the committee in breach of the ROIL.

This latest refusal by the LA to allow McLaughlin to see the register fuels speculation, headded, that government is, despite claims, frustrating the mechanisms which allow for openness and transparency in government. McLaughlin submitted his complaint on Friday but has not yet heard from the Governor’s Office; however, the ICO has contacted him and has already begun investigating the refusal.

CNS Contacted the LA to ask why McLaughlin was refused but no one from the Assembly has responded to our enquiries.

Category: Headline News

Comments (48)

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  1. Tara says:

    I agree with ‘one of the BT 5’ – given that we have a couple of "illegally" elected officials currently sitting in office – how on earth can we be surprised that they’re now not playing by the rules.

    We set  a precedent when they were allowed to remain in office despite not following the rules – rules that were put in place for good reason – if the rules did not apply prior to becoming an elected minister, why should these gentlemen (and yes I use the term loosely) feel bound by them now?

    We can be saddened and disapointed and we may get angry but we cannot be surprised.  I hope our West Bay voting brothers and sisters are now painfully aware that the cost of all that is happening cannot be offset by a washing machine!

     

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am sick of this…..and I am not talking about the elected morons (because I never expected any better of them to begin with). I am sick of all of you who are posting the same crap over and over and over again, bitching and complaining. Has that changed anything to date??? NO!

    Get of your ass, stand together and do something about it. Why do you all sit down and let those bullies put this country into the ground. Oh – I forgot – you usually wait for somebody else just to come in and tell you what to do and do it for you.

    I am just one of those stupid old expats who is married to a Caymanian and has no rights here so unfortunately, there is nothing I can do about all of this BUT YOU CAN!

    • Anonymous says:

      We hereby grant you the right to continue with your intelligent posts on CNS.

  3. suckerpunch says:

    I wonder which members of the “gowerment” will head to their lawyer’s offices to fix this little problem especially those huge tracks of property in the Caribbean and USA. not surprise the LA holding out they same very compliant to the wishes of the quorum lately

  4. Justice Soon Come says:

    What needs to happen is for a total audit of all major government contracts since this one was elected. We should then carefully examine the entities that have benefitted from such contracts and if any of these MLAs are identified, we should demand explanation. If none is forthcoming they should be sued in a court of law, hopefully one that has nothing to do with our Attorney General.

  5. Anonymous says:

    THE TIME HAS COME

    For all MLAs to be investigated under the law of declaring all personal assets and interests, private, companies and others on the register which will show who is honest and complies with the law and who are to be prosecuted under the law, and fired and banned from public office for life for breaking the law.

    ITS TIME TO CLOSE IN ON CORRUPTION & DECEIT.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What is wrong with the Government?? This is a common interest of the people fo the Cayman Islands – Possibly this person did not supply His/her information for the Register of Interest. These Registers in my time should always have been updated, and no excuses hanging our of the window. A very grave matter of this nature should immediately be looked into by the Speaker, Clerk of the Legislative, Governor, Complaints Commissioner and Freedom of Information Office (FOI).

  7. One of the BT 5 says:

    As one of BT 5 who tried to defend our Election Laws and Constitution when 2 candidates failed to register their interests PRIOR to the election, I am amazed than anyone could possibly expect ethical behaviour from persons who had no regards for the laws PRIOR to the election. How can you possibly imagine that they would suddenly, miraculously act in ethical, honourable, honest ways. Since they were fully supported by the remainder of their cronies and based on the way our money has been wasted on unnecessary travel, etc during the past 2 years, I can only assume that they all are of the same mentality. You may remember that we were bullied and threatened with bankruptcy when the judge (surprise surprise) ruled in their favour and the Attorney General appeared not to have the courage and integrity to uphold the laws of this land (another surprise). I knew from then that this was going to be a very long, hard 4 years for all who do not run around on all fours kissing certain MLA’s backsides. I am glad I did what I did and proud of the other 4 who had the courage to try to do something about the situation. This is what we all need to do, get together and do something about it. These people are pointing their middle fingers at us with their blatant disregard of our laws and disgusting behaviour towards those who are suffering. We have the power to hold them accountable and we must join together and do this.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, but you filed to late!!!! If you had filed on time, the outcome may have been different.  You had a deadline to file your complaint, which I 100% agreed should have been done, but on time.  PPM should have had the balls to fight it right away, but they didn’t.  This is why we are at where we are today. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Please get it straight.  We did not even file under that section of the elections law. This was simply a smoke screen by the powers that be to make it look as though we did that.   We took legal advice and there is no guarantee that you will ever win a court case – especially when the odds are stacked against you

        • Anonymous says:

          Regardless, there was a deadline and it wasn’t meant.  Furthermore no PPM member challenged it.  It should have been aggressively challenged before the elections even took place.  No, there is never any guarantee in court that you will win the case, but at least dot your i’s and cross your t’s. 

  8. Is it April 1st Yet? says:

    Incredible! Since when did we elect these people to be ABOVE the law?

    • Anonymous says:

      he we go again people. It’s on an almost daily basis now. The government won’t listen to your complaints, because you’re complaining about the Government. You may not like it, but the UK still has sovereignty over the Cayman Islands, so my suggestion is, go higher and bombard the UK with the complaints of the daily behaviour of the abusive leaders.

      • Sue Verein says:

        You can always sue theForeign & Commonwealth Office in England under the Human Rights Act for their failure to implement the ECHR in Cayman – injunctions, damages, the lot.  For example denial of the right to vote has been estimated at around $2,250 for each election a long term resident has been denied voting rights or the right to stand in election. 

    • Michel Lemay says:

      I often feel that many days are April’s fool day. And we are unfortunatly the one’s being played the trick on and then Il’l wake to a regular beautiful day and it was only a bad dream. I wish !

  9. Anonymous says:

    I hope when they do eventually find it that it reveals the ongoing mystery of just exactly how many brothers Ellio does have……

  10. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of conflict of interest.  Guess which paving company paved Mac’s street with asphalt while the rest of the neighbourhood was done chip and spray.  Any one who can not figure out the answer please check the list of UDP members in the LA and their company affiliations.  That is if they will let you see it.

    • Anon says:

      You had better also check how much it is probably costing the public for the water truck todrive up to WB twice a day to spray over the same chip and spray roads on the way to Mac’s street, I assume so that the car doesn’t get any dust on it!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Well it seems that this is a common practice now.  Paving Companies, Security Companies to name a few.  Don’t you notice there is a certain security company at government contracts which wasn’t bidded.  Isn’t it funny that a certain security company has contracts which UDP members sit on the board????  This is what you voted into office!!!

  11. Michel Lemay says:

    Yes those seats look very comfortable. Great picture od men hard at work….. It’s a disgrace that the public who elected them not be allowed to view that registry immediatly. Yes no doubt as usual that business conflicts within their government responsibilities are quite likely. And Mr. Elio is no better then is Leader for not even bothering to make certain that meetings are conducted and proper information is recorded and updated as requisted by Law. A lack of involment and carelesness on his part. It seems that there is something not right or just plainly blank hoping that it would be forgotten and it will go away. Only Mr. Adams has the decency to return calls when contacted even if he knows that the person is not of his Constituancy. great respect for you sir and I pray for him one day to just get up and say enough of this nonsense. A person with a good reputation is not worth losing it for all the money in the world. What really pains my hear tis when I see some elderly persons not be able to buy decent food to put on their table or compromising to get proper medication they need or they will have to go back to their kerosene lamps. i challenge anyone to go at times and spend time at the Hospital lobby, specially those in power on any given days to hear their sad stories. If you are not touched by that then your heart is made of stone. The passion and patience that the Hospital staff have and at times go way out the call of duty is to be commended to say the least.

  12. Peter Simple says:

    What I find a little disturbing is that this information is proported to be in a ring binder. If we cant get the information which is legally our right how do we know that the law is not also being circumvented by the removal of pages from the ring binder or for that matter is there any control to see that all pages are properly filed?

  13. Anonymous says:

    That office moves at a glacial pace (I would know).  ‘Being updated’ is Caymanian civil servant speak for ‘we need to update it but we haven’t found the time and, anyway, we can’t find it’.

    As for putting the information online, I agree that is the way forward, but there are two obstacles:

    1) People like to be the gatekeepers to information.  Take away someone’s information and you take away their power.  Why would they be in a hurry to give it away?

    2) That office is too underresourced to be able to put information online on a regular basis.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Hey McCarron, it ‘s about time an East Ender start showing their face and voicing their opinion. Congrats, glad to hear you in the political arena. Makes me feel good. We got articulate people among us.

  15. nauticalone says:

    No surprise here….not with the current bunch who make up this Govt.
    And what will the Guv do?….his usual….nothing!…

    We here in Cayman are soooo far behind the times….truly the islands time forgot (certainly in respect of “good governance”).

  16. Anonymous says:

    Its all going to end up in Direct Rule… not really what we want, but seeing as we have no one on the island able (or willing) to do the job, its going to be the only option left.

    Cayman has many fine citizens who have the knowledge, brainpower and integrity to run the islands and run them well, unfortunately, none of them are in politics.

    • Anonymous says:

      cayman does have many fine citizens…they are called expats!… but you don’t give them the right to run for office

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s because they’re not citizens.

      • Anonymous says:

        1. If they are “expats” then they are not “citizens”.
        2. All citizens who possess no other citizenship may run for office. Country of origin is irrelevant.
        3. Were suggesting that there are no fine Caymanian citizens?

  17. Anonymous says:

    I agree it should be on a web site for all to see. There is no reason for it not to be unless they have something to hide.

    The People deserve better then they are getting.  But we all have to remember it is our responsibility to keep our elected official honest.  We need to continue to speak out, not sit back.  They will only respect what we as an electorate inspect, and we should be vocally inspecting everything they do.  Letting them know when we are unhappy with what they are doing and letting them know when we agree.  Remember they work for US.  We need to make sure they do not forget this.  

    It appears that the UK doe not care.  maybe they figure if they give us enough rope…… well you know the old saying!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    What I find ironic is that isn’t Elio in charge of transforming the government via ecommerce? So, I am a bit confused why it sits in a three ringed binder on not on a webpage, with all of about 1/2 day’s work to get on there.

    So who do we go to if the govenor has stopped something that is corrupt? IE: If he stopped a MLA from participating in corruption? Is that an FOI request to the Governor? (Legit question I am asking)

    • Anonymous says:

      Good idea! (To: I find it ironic)… Come on Elio, use your visionary and technical skillsto make the register available to all right from our desks!  That would really be progress.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Watching the Cayman government get dragged, kicking and screaming like a 5 year old, into the age of transparency and accountability is great entertainment.

    In terms of deception, ego and personal gratification at the expense of public interest our lot make some of the middle eastern dictatorships look good.

    • Just the facts says:

      Unfortunately, this kicking and screaming five-year-old is like Peter Pan, who after a decade, still won’t grow up, in this country called Neverlandistan.

  20. Anonymous says:

    The register of interests should be available on line for all to see. You can go to the UK Parliament website and there you will see the register of interests updated EVERY 15 MINUTES. Australia is doing the same thing as are most other countries where the politicians are eager and able to show that they do not have overt conflicts of interest. Hmmmm – Maybe that is the problem.

  21. Anonymous says:

    It is probably BLANK!!! Ellio is probably scrambling now to gather the information.

    This is infuriating.

    Excellent McCarron!!! These are the kinds of voters that we need. As a public now we need to stand behind Mr McCarron and loudly state our objection to this absolute lack of accountability and good governance.

    The Register needs to be presented by the end of the week and we need to make that loud and clear.

    Voters please please remember these incidents come election time! We must stop electing individuals with no character, integrity or sense of responsibility.

    • Anonymous says:

      The end of the week? It should be produced TODAY, even if it is BLANK as you suggest.

    • Henry Hill says:

      Bear in mind that the Registers of Interests were usually the first item addressed in the TCI enquiry and hammered repeatedly. All were found to be deficient. How well did the enquiry work out for the TCI goverment?

  22. Anonymous says:

    When elected officials appear to have no respect for the law, is it any wonder that the LA staff seem unable or unwilling to comply?

    Perhaps Mr. McLaughlin might also wish to formally complain to the Speaker of the LA as the Speaker has some responsibility for the functioning of the LA and its staff.

    • Anonymous says:

      ‘When elected officials appear to have no respect for the law,…’ – Did that not start with no respect for the Constitution? Did anybody think it would improve from there on?

  23. Anonymous says:

    the governor has failed in his duty to ensure good governance…how do you register a complaint against the governor?

  24. Anonymous says:

    every person in cayman should make an official complaint to the governor regarding the standard of governance by the udp……

    • Anonymous says:

      Lets do it

    • Weary says:

      03/30/2011 08-16

      I have no right to vote, after almost 20 years here my voice is not heard, so why should I bother complaining to the governor?

  25. Anonymous says:

    I could offer a few reasons why this was refused. But lets all wait on the official response. hopefully the individual who was told to say it was being updated will speak up and say who gave those instructions! If they dont they are participating in official corruption and can be fired!

  26. Anonymous says:

    "CNS Contacted the LA to ask why McLaughlin was refused but no one from the Assembly has responded to our enquiries."

    I wouldn’t get my hopes too high expecting someone to contact you from the LA.

     

  27. Absurdistani says:

    >> “The news of the denial comes inthe wake of revelations by the independent member for North Side that the legislative committee which is supposed to oversee the register, chaired by Ellio Solomon has never met since its formation almost two years ago. Despite being obliged under the law to have produced at the very least one report the committee members have never come together to discuss a report never mind write one making the committee in breach of the ROIL.”

    And what consequences will Chairman Elio Solomon, who has clearly failed to meet his responsibilities, face? Note that he is obliged by law to meet these requirements.

    I’d be willing to bet that there will be no consequences because it’s just another day in Absurdistan under McDinejad’s rule.

  28. Anonymous says:

    TRANSPARENCY UNDER McDAFFI RULE

    Where did our democracy and transparency given to us by the PPM go in two short years. McDaffi’s only asset on the register is his home that the country has upgraded and walled his personal home at a cost to all residents. Where are all the other assets not declared. Ellio is supposed to be in charge of the Board to oversee all of this, and has not convened a meeting since coming into office and is not applying the law or uncovering the deception in this regard amongst our elected representatives who are supposed to under the law to be honest and declare all assets and interests both in Cayman and internationally.

  29. Real World says:

    It’s amazing how the Premier and the Government are having to be dragged — kicking and screaming — into the new era of FOI; of openess, transparency, and accountability.

    “Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of a regular government.” – Jeremy Bentham, English utilitarian philosopher and social reformer (1748 – 1832).