Port Authority escapes court

| 29/01/2012

port office.JPG(CNS): The information commissioner will not be pursuing any court action in connection with the Port Authority’s failure to release documents relating to negotiations between it, the Cayman Islands Government and the developer, GLF Construction, relating to the cruise berthing project. Jennifer Dilbert stated Friday that although the authority had failed to comply with an order she had issued on 13 December under the Freedom of Information law, the applicant had advised the commissioner they no longer required the relevant record and therefore she would not be certifying to the Grand Court the failure of the public authority to follow the law.

The Port Authority had sought to exempt the documents from FOI but during her 19th decision in the wake of the applicant’s appeal she had order the port to release them no later than 27 January. Since no judicial review of her decision had been sought, the documents should now be available.

Technically, the Port Authority is not in compliance with Dilbert’s order but as the applicant no longer wants the information it has escaped legal sanction, though it is understood the documents have still not been released.

It is not clear why the applicant has withdrawn its request for the documents, which the commissioner had stated should be in the public domain. In her ruling she had pointed to the public interest surrounding government’s plans for cruise berthing facilities and that a considerable number of the relevant documents were already in the public domain.

In light of what Dilbert said was the need for government to be accountable for its actions and decisions, especially in the light of the high costs involved in the port expansion project, Dilbert ruled that the balance of the public interest weighed in favour of disclosure in this instance, despite the authority’s desire to keep the records under wraps.

“The port expansion is an exceptional capital project of Government, which has been called “the most expensive” of its kind in the Cayman Islands to date, involving construction costs of reportedly close to $200 million. As such, in my view it is entirely proper that this project and the decisions relevant to it should receive very close scrutiny from Government and the general public alike,” the information boss said.

CNS has now submitted an FOI request to the authority for the same and other relevant documents in order to ensure that, despite the applicant’s decision, the documents will be available to those members of the public still interested in the issue.

See information Commissioner's decision and related story here.

Category: FOI

Comments (14)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Knot S Smart says:

    Around here is becoming more and more like the Twilight Zone!

  2. Bushwacker says:

    Considering the timing, more than likely it was GLF and or its Agents or Assigns that submitted the initial request in preparation for a Court Action hence the all of a sudden no need for the documentation. It is not unreasonable to believe that when GLF got word that they will be paid off possibly however with a some conditions such but not limited to; drop the Matter with the Information Chief etc. it was obviously dropped like a hot potato.

     

    Nevertheless, Mrs. Dilbert should pursue this matter until The Port Authority is fully compliant with her directive. Failure to do so, simply demonstrates that if someone does not want the Public to obtain specific information they can certainly make that happen at least for an extended period of time. Then when push comes to shove, do not be surprised if somehow the requested information mysteriously cannot be located at all!

  3. Anonymous says:

    any comment mr governor?

    • Anonymous says:

      methinks y'all bark at the govenor too much. Mac is your problem, your responsibility…. YOU  DO something

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Port Authority seems to be the strangest place.  First of all, to get hired there you have to be a complete moron with little or no education and get paid 4-6k per month with the excuse that driving a forklift is dangerous for example (which is no more dangerous than a fire officer or police) and secondly they should be in court every day of the year for the condition of the channel markers!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      This is so true….finally someone sees what I see…half the time all they do is sleep anyhow. Yes driving a forklift is dangerous but how much more danger does a fireman or police officer put him/herslf in when rescuing persons from a burning car or building. But yet their salary is below $3500 p/m.

    • Mushroom1 says:

      I deal with the Port Authority regularly, and have found many competent, hard working individuals.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not saying that everyone there is uneducated or incompetent however look at the majority.  Not to be rude however you must deal with them on days when the minority was at work and it was pay day.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank you CNS!

  6. Tiny Briefs says:

    If I was to guess this request was part of an information gathering process for litigation purposes.  Info requests are commonly used for this.  The withdrawal of the request was probably a condition of the Chinese buying off GLF's threat of a lawsuit.

  7. Peter Milburn says:

    Thats a shame as the public deserves to know EXACTLY what went on with this deal.There is too much of this hiding of the relavent facts going on  and the sooner we have total transperancy the better off this country will be.With all due respect to Mrs Dilbert I hope that pressure was not brought to bear on the applicant from higher up(which certainly sounds like the case)as this will defeat the whole purpose of the FOI law which is so crucial to proper and open governance.

    CNS Note: As stated in the story CNS has made a request to the port authority for the relevant documents.