CIG sacks UK Tory Lord

| 31/03/2014

(CNS):The Cayman government has terminated its contract with the Conservative life peer, Lord Blencathra, as a result of changes made to the rules governing the conduct of those sitting in the UK’s upper house of parliament. Following more recent media controversy in London regarding the Conservative member of the House of Lords and his role with the government as head of its UK office, Premier Alden McLaughlin confirmed in a statement Monday evening that the CIG had finally terminated the contract with his firm, Two Lions Consultancy, that day. McLaughlin said the contract “could be construed to be in conflict” with the new code for Lords members and the post would now be advertised.

The contract with Blencathra’s consultancy firm was made by the former premier and now leader of the opposition, McKeeva Bush, as it was hoped that the Tory peer could have some positive influence for Cayman and its financial industry in the corridors of power of both Westminster and Whitehall. A break from tradition of having a Caymanian heading up the UK office, the contract caused some controversy in Cayman.

His appointment also caused controversy in the UK and a probe was launched into Blencathra’s role as Cayman’s representative in London when it appeared that not only was he lobbying ministers but parliament as well. In addition, MPs in the UK also questioned why a member of the British government was promoting what many in the UK believe is a tax haven, facilitating wealthy corporations and individuals to avoid their tax obligations to HM Treasury.

Although Blencathra, who denied any wrongdoing, was cleared by the House of Lords committee that examined his role, the issue led the commission to implement a new code of conduct banning members from political and ministerial lobbying and placing the peer's role in question. In addition, the discovery of Blencathra’s contract with the CIG by the UK media stirred up the controversies once again and the commission is now taking another look at the role Blencathra played since 2011 when he began working for the Cayman government.  

Against that backdrop, the premier and his home affairs chief officer, Eric Bush, met with Lord Blencathra when they were in London last week to discuss the impact of the recent amendments to the House of Lords code of conduct and Blencathra’s contract, which had been renewed on 1 November 2012.

“We have mutually concluded that some terms of the contract could be construed to be in conflict with the recently amended Lords Code of Conduct guidelines and that onthat basis the agreement of 1 November, 2012, will be terminated on 31 March, 2014,” said the premier in a statement release by his office Monday evening.

He explained that the position for the director of the Cayman Islands government office in London will now be advertised.

As well as his role as director of the UK office, Blencathra acted as a consultant to the local government, providing advice and guidance on a wide range of UK and EU matters. 

McLaughlin said it is critical that the government continues to have the benefit of proper advice on these matters in order to protect and promote the interests of the Cayman Islands and that it was considering its options on this issue.

Category: Politics

Comments (19)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I see the job advertised in todays Compass. I hope they have to interview alll the applicants sent by the NWDA whether they are suitable or not – like all other businesses have to do.

  2. Anonymous says:

    If this case has any similarities to the Lord Laird situation (and it has several!) then this is far from over. Lord Laird has lost his title/peerage, his reputation and his professional designation from the Chartered Institute. Both Lord Blencathra and the previous government knew the rules and regulations on lobbying before they entered into this working arrangement. Maybe it’s time to send a Caymanian to London…

  3. Anonymous says:

    You all did listen to the news when Alden said he is going to advertise this position for someone new to fill it? I am no Makeeva supporter but some of the comments i see are sure full of hatred towards him. Alden even now agrees that cayman needs a representative in London. From my point of view Alden wants to be able to choose his own representative.

    • Anonymous says:

      The issue was never whether Cayman needed to have a representative but instead whether it was in our best interests to have this particular representative at this particular cost.  Obviously the Premier understood that it was untenable to continue to employ him to do something that the new House of Lords ethics rules now forbid.

  4. Knot S Smart says:

    But can I have the cape?

    I always wanted to look like Superman…

  5. Anonymous says:

    Yet we continue with same lawyer, the Attorney General, legal advisor to PPM who was also legal advisor to UDP and PPM before that… would you want to use the same legal counsel as previous administrations? When will we get an AG who has allegiance to Cayman or UK only?

    In my opinion, based on not knowing the AG on personal level, but regardless of who's there the FCO need to start changing that appointment.

     

  6. Anonymous says:

    The point that Mac did get is that to be effective the London office needs to be manned by a London insider not a Caymanian pen-pusher on a jolly.  It was shame that Mac decided to pay top tier prices for a third tier person.

    • Anonymous says:

      The office has more than one function. I agree that some jobs (lobbying, discussing financial services, advising the government) are done better by an insider, but that insider will have limited knowledge of Cayman and so not make a great representative for it. That insider will not have much credibility either because it will be apparent that they have peddled their influence to the government that has hired them and can't claim to have any genuine patriotic belief in what they are asked to say on its behalf.

      What would be most effective would be to do what most diplomatic missions do: allocate areas of responsibility to people with the specific expertise. In our case that might mean a Caymanian representative with overall responsibility who takes the 'ambassador' parts of the job, with one or more deputy representatives who need not be Caymanian who focus on and can speak about their areas and are actually responsible for outcomes identified within them. Blencathra mentioned during the negotiations that he had to have the title "Political Director" to be able to speak to the FCO on Cayman's behalf. There is no reason why we can't have a Caymanian representative and a "political director" at the same time other than cost.

      This office is the closest thing we will likely ever have to an embassy or high commission so it is natural for people to fixate on the flag-flying aspect of the post and demand that it be held by a Caymanian. Why should a British national enjoy, in his own capital, the diplomatic privileges granted to OT representatives (to which they are not strictly entitled under international law)?

  7. The Parliamentarian says:

    Doesn't "advising" and "lobbying" usually involve "payola-ing?

  8. Peanuts says:

    Another Bush fiasco has crashed. 

  9. pmilburn says:

    Good ridance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    This was a disaster from day one. Anyone who had bothered to check this man's record as an MP would have thought more than twice about employing him.

  11. UHUHUH says:

    We have to thank "The Perpetually Honorable Mr. Bush" for another strategic error, and one that gave us nothing, but cost us  near three quarters of a million dollars. FOR WHAT? We must stop letting our politicians make these kind decisions on their own, without consultation with all our representatives. IT HAS TO STOP!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Now close the London Representative office and save much need funds.

    All our Governors are paid massive packages by the Cayman Islands coffers now demand that earn every dollar to help us and our interests.

  13. Anonymous says:

    FINALLY

     

  14. Anonymous says:

    Close the London office!!!! It's a cocktail party appointment on a permanent secretary salary in a great part of London for Caymanians on freebies to shop. XXXX Not a single benefit has ever come to Cayman from this office except providing employment to polical party or civil service hacks.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hope this isn’t another lawsuit w/ an undisclosed settlement amount (like Kernohan) brewing.

    • Anonymous says:

      The contract has been frustrated through no fault of CIG.

    • Anonymous says:

      I certainly hope not. Perhaps he should sue HMGovernment, they are the ones giving him trouble for "lobbying for Cayman"   The  coffers here are bare!!