Clifford laments enquiry

| 25/03/2009

(CNS): Having faced a considerable amount of controversy during his tenure in political office, Minister Charles Clifford chose to speak about the most controversial time of all in his farewell speech to the House — the Commission of Enquiry — and lamented the negative message it sent to civil servants who wanted to blow the whistle on what they perceived as corruption. The enquiry concerned documents he took with him when he left his civil service post as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism.

When he joined the People’s Progressive Movement as a candidate in the 2005 election, the documents that Clifford took, which concerned the financing and management issues surrounding of the Royal Watler Port, Cayman Airways, Turtle Farm and the Boggy Sands Project, were leaked to the press and used on the 2005 campaign trail.

During his final presentation to the House, following his thank yous and a justification of his time in office, Clifford turned to the circumstances of the enquiry and said he had never had anything to hide. “What I did in 2004 when I resigned from public office is no secret to the people of this country," he said. “I spoke about it very publicly from the campaign platform, and when allegations were made against me about removing files, I admitted I had taken my files with me.”

He explained that he had even written about the documents to the governor at the time, Bruce Dinwiddy, who saw nothing wrong with his actions, Clifford said.

Following intense speculation regarding the documents that Clifford took, Governor Stuart Jack announced the enquiry in November 2007 when he said that after considering legal advice he had decidedthat the public interest would be best served by facilitating a full enquiry into the circumstances relating to the alleged unauthorised removal of files.

Clifford said when he heard this he was happy to go along with the process as he knew he had nothing to hide, but said there were times when he questioned whether he should have raised those irregularities he saw as permanent secretary, given what was happening, and asked himself if it was indeed worth it.

“But I came to the conclusion that it was worth it. It was more important to stick to the principles of honesty and integrity. I feared that this country was heading down the road of institutionalized corruption and it was not something I could ignore. While it was a challenging time, I believe I did the right thing. No one can tell me the people of these islands have lost their moral compass. I think they needed that knowledge when they went into the last general election,” he said.

Chaired by Sir Richard Tucker, the enquiry began on 21 January 2008 and concluded that Clifford should not have taken confidential files, and although no sanction was handed down recommendations were made.

Clifford said that the enquiry had sent the worst possible message to anyone who was serving in public office who saw wrongdoing as they would now be far less likely to reveal what they have seen. "They have heard: If you see irregularities don’t you dare expose it or you too will face a commission,” he said. ”But I want to say to civil servants, if you see it expose it!”

He emphasised the PPM administration’s introduction of the Freedom of Information Law and that the message from the enquiry may be unfortunate but public servants could be confident under a PPM administration that there were now channels for them to expose any wrongdoing.

Unbelievably, the commission investigated the leak instead of the corruption it revealed, he said. “Why was there not an enquiry into the irregularities?" he asked. “There are a whole case load of auditor general’s reports and I wonder why they have not been properly investigated?”

He said he believed that, had there not been a change in government in 2005, the Cayman Islands could be in the same position as the Turks and Caicos Islands, where the UK government has suspended the constitution as a result of the level of corruption.

Despite being concluded in January of 2008, the Commission of Enquiry is likely to find itself a tool in the May election campaigns 2009 for both sides. The UDP began making use of it in its first campaign meeting in Bodden Town on Tuesday evening with regards to its findings and the declaration that Clifford was wrong to leak the documents. The PPM, on the other hand, will be lamenting the fact that the contents of the documents and the reasons for the leak were as they see it never properly investigated.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Minister Clifford is a good guy. He can’t win for loosing damned if you don’t. Damned if you do. The majority of these comments appear to be personal and not really providing a solution. Anyone that really knows this young man know he a family man, a home person that enjoys spending time at home and not out womanizing or catering to the bar room. He has kids and these remarks here I feel so hurt for his kids and wife and it saddens me to know that we as Caymanians get such a thrill today pushing our own into the ground and once we have a diaster like Ivan, tails go in between legs and you cry for unity amongst caymanians. As a young Caymanian I am ashamed of reading some of the hate, and at the same time we complain about expats hating. You look in the mirror and get a little respect. Not for anyone as much as for yourself. I hope half of you don’t have any kids, because God so help them with the example you’re setting just by writing such hate.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The Tucker report aside, objectively, what has he done for us lately?

  3. Philip McCraking says:

    "Then butt out."

     

    Certainly not. Just because I don’t live there at the moment and cannot take part in the political process does not mean that I cannot comment on wrongdoing within the political system, or rebutt a public defence of wrongdoing. I’m not there but that does not mean I don’t have interests there – and no I am not a fat cat millionaire. If you don’t like my comments then ignore them or come back with a reasoned, intelligent and articulate argument.

    • Anonymous says:

      "…come back with a reasoned, intelligent and articulate argument"

      You first. Mind your own business.

       

  4. Anonymous says:

    Chuckie,

    You have our support 100%.  They have had to clean up the mess the UDP made during their reign.  Vote UDP and this country will be headed for independence…..we CANNOT afford to do that!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Philip McCraking says:

    “You are seriously deluded if you believe that this is what the UDP has to offer’, and you are indeed a hypocrite if you pretend not to know that civil servant cronies do pass information to opposition politicians and are doing so even now. Of course if I blow the whistle there may be another Commission of Enquiry. What a ridiculous affair. ”

    See now there are some of those sweeping statements that I mentioned before. It is assumed that because I have made a comment about chuckies behaviour and motives that I am anti PPM and pro UDP. I am neither. I am not even eligible to vote! I have no real interest in the election. It does not matter to me who gets in because it won’t affect my life one jot. I don’t even live in Cayman. It does mean that I cannot comment on undesirable behaviour in an elected official, because from the first post I commented on I believe the author to have been apathetic about such behaviour. As the electorate you should not be happy about it or continue to allow it to be the norm in politicians. Do something about it because if you don’t then the electorate only has themselves to blame.

    Secondly you assume that I know something of the inner workings of Government and the civil service in order to label and insult me. I do not and therefore how can I be a hypocrite. I only made the comment that if you or anyone else does then do something about it – and if it means another commission then so be it. It is like saying I won’t report a crime because I know there will be a court case. As long as the truth is out and justice served. In this regard I am idealistic but these are the mechanisms of justice in a civilised society.

    • Anonymous says:

      "It does not matter to me who gets in because it won’t affect my life one jot. I don’t even live in Cayman".

      Then butt out.

    • Anonymous says:

      "It is like saying I won’t report a crime because I know there will be a court case".

      No at all. The Commission of Enquiry was a fiasco; its scope should have been more comprehensive to include the wrongdoing alleged; it did not apply the normal rules of evidence and relied upon evidence that would have been given no weight in a court of law as a basis for its conclusions. The most important question was left unanswered "was a public interest served in disclosing information in the circumstances?". Instead, there was speculation about motives. In the meantime the only purpose it served was as an attempt to destabilize the govt. while leaving the real issues unanswered. Much like the Bridger investigation.       

      • Anonymous says:

        I think chuckie should have applied for the chief of police post. He has alot of experience as a policeman. I dont know if the application dates have closed yet though, maybe its too late.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ah well it’s all Politics as usual.

        Of course the Commission of Enquiry wasn’t a "fiasco"-unless you are a diehard PPM/Chuckie supporter in which case it was, since Chuckie came out of it looking like the self serving political wannabe he was when he took the files to get himself elected. Hello, does anyone of any intelligence really believe this mean spirited little chap (who got rid of Tim Hubble lickety split to appoint a more -um-amenable Permanent Secretary) did so in the public interest? Please.

        Sir Richard Tucker may not have delivered the report the PPM wanted but the fact of the matter is Tucker didn’t give a monkey about Clifford/Bush/PPM/UDP/Caymanian politics/James Watler silly Civil Service association stuff. He listened, he gave an objective ruling. In Cayman, if we don’t like it, we trash it. That’s our way. It’s sad. But our hoity toity days may be numbered, courtesy of the G20. A little more humility about our wonderful little country would be welcome to a lot of us.

        I could say much about the slate of candidates but I think that should wait until they reveal more of themselves. I am not alone as a Caymanian in feeling that the quality is very very variable. But past experience has shown the electorate is remarkably sensible. Will that be true still with our new MacKeeva Caymanians. You know, I suspect so.

        • Anonymous says:

          Tucker only gave an objective ruling if you are a die-hard UDP/McKeeva supporter. I have explained why the ruling wasn’t objective. You have not explained why you think it was. Is there anyone on the UDP ticket that isn’t a self-serving political wannabe?

          • Anonymous says:

            Sorry buddy but the ruling was objective and you should be able to think it through as to why that is the case. Tucker was a 78 year old very experienced English judge, completely uninterested in our (to him) petty political problems and only dealing with a set of circumstances that Clifford himself admitted (guilty but with explanation). Tucker was not broughthere to investigate Mac. Many PPM wish this were so but it wasn’t. Tucker ruled on what was presented within the terms of his remit. He let Clifford off pretty lightly (correctly in my view though that isn’t worth a damn).

            I am NOT a UDP supporter-many of the candidates are wasted nights and Mac, though undoubtedly a talented politician, has a tendency to believe that rules are there to prevent him governing so he wont obey them. I also dont think the UDP should be bringing up the Enquiry in this run-up to the Election. Heavens! There’s plenty more. The Enquiry is water under the bridge. Clifford should go-but not because of the Enquiry but because he is clueless as to how to be a Minister of Tourism. The truth-sad truth- is that we Caymanians should be lamenting the relatively poor quality of Caymanian that puts himself/herself up for election. They tend to be the malcontents-ex civil servants, some retired by Governors, some getting out to avoid dismissal on misconduct grounds, failed lawyers, failed business men extension cords, discredited former bullying ante-foreign politicians-all the sort that appeal to the talk show callers and give Gordon Barlow an excuse to go on and on about "tribalism". What a shame. Great young Caymanians exist-but they are all doing so well, they have no desire to call the talk shows, nor do they have the financial need to run for election and live off the public purse.

            • Anonymous says:

              "Tucker was a 78 year old very experienced English judge, completely uninterested in our (to him) petty political problems"

              This still does not mean the matter was handled objectively. It was not for the reasons I have already given. I don’t blame Tucker as much as I blame the Governor who artificially narrowed the scope of the investigation. The points I am makng about evidence are beyond dispute. Being English might cut some ice with you, it doesn’t with me.  You still have to show me your objectivity. When you chose unsworn testimony not subject to cross-examination over sworn testimony which was subjected to cross-examination I question your objectivity. If he had predetermined that he was going to accept whatever former Governor Dinwiddy said (presumably because he was the Governor) why bother with the Commission of Enquiry charade. Just ask Dinwiddy and don’t bother to ask Clifford.  

              Oh, and by the way I am not a Clifford supporter as such. I believe there are some things he can be faulted on. But fair is fair.        

              • Anonymous says:

                Ok, we’ll have to agree to differ! But if Dinwiddy had been cross examined, do you really believe that he would have broken down on the stand ( Lifetime movie-style) and confessed that Clifford did indeed complain to him about Mac? Of course not! He would simply stand by his written statement and say he did not remember any such thing happening and the records show that Clifford never wrote to him about it (if he had, don’t you think Clifford would have produced a copy for all to see?). Sometimes-often in fact- cross examination can backfire. You seem to know something about the law so you will know that defence lawyers are therefore very careful about exercising their right to cross examine. I think (and I’m not alone among lawyers) that Dinwiddy unwittingl helped Clifford by not being cross examined for reasons given above.

                But it’s history now. Let the voters of BT decide. I doubt if many of them will have the Enquiry in their mind when they enter the polling booth.

  6. Jedi Dread says:

    Anonymous,  ‘stealing’ na stealing no more then??

    *walk like duck, quack like a duck, must be a _____.

    Anyway, me and the dog going for a walk, you comin’?

    – Jedi Dread –

     PS. My thoughts posess form and structure and my words…  very well chosen.

    • Anonymous says:

      Jedi, what "stealing" are you referring to exactly? I did not understand that anyone was charged with theft.

      • Anonymous says:

        Clifford: Takes Confidential Info.

        "Chaired by Sir Richard Tucker, the enquiry began on 21 January 2008 and concluded that Clifford should not have taken confidential files, and although no sanction was handed down recommendations were made." (CNS)

        I wonder if any PPM Cabinet members have taken copies of their personal files before the LA was dissolved?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ask him if he’s a lawyer and WHEN he was called to the bar.

  8. Philip McCraking says:

    "Oh please, that whole affair was a storm in a teacup.  Do you really think Opposition politicians do not routinely use confidential information that they obtain from their supporters in the civil service?! ‘Twas always so and always shall be. How is that all of a sudden people have become so high-minded that information is used to "kick off a political career". Enough of this hyprocrisy about Clifford! If that was his worst fault then we were blessed indeed."

    I am not a hypocrite as I have never stolen Government property, kept it for a while then revealed it to the world claiming that I am whistle blowing – all the while building my political career. I am not even being high minded – just making an observation. In fact it was Chuckie that was being high minded as he claimed he was acting in the public interest when it has been clearly shown that it was a charade. Howcan you reward mediocrity and pass off deception as being blessed. Being blessed is having true leaders who act selflessly and not self serving and more importantly don’t lie about the ‘trivial’. After all if he lied about that, then what about the important stuff. People voted for him on the basis of truth and whistle blowing and it was revealed that he really wasn’t like that at all.

    As for civil servants passing on confidential information – if you know something then blow the whistle. It should not be accepted that politicians be allowed to corrupt the civil service in that way. If it happens, should it and should it be allowed to continue. As I say if you have something concrete then say something or you will just condone it – or is it just another of those sweeping comments that have no substance.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Philip  McCraking,

      "Being blessed is having true leaders who act selflessly and not self serving and more importantly don’t lie about the ‘trivial"

      You are seriously deluded if you believe that this is what the UDP has to offer’, and you are indeed a hypocrite if you pretend not to know that civil servant cronies do pass information to opposition politicians and are doing so even now. Of course if I blow the whistle there may be another Commission of Enquiry. What a ridiculous affair.   

  9. Anonymous says:

    If Mr Clifford is elected and the PPM returned to power is Mr Clifford going to keep the portifilio of Tourism that he has held for 4 years?

    It would be good to get someone else into that ministry.

    • Anonymous says:

      Apparently Clifford didn’t read the Enquiry report (or more likely he is hoping his dwindling supporters didn’t) because it sets out what civil servants should do if faced with the situation he claims he faced-it doesn’t at all send a negative message to civil servants, it assists them. Also, now he says he wrote to Dinwiddy about Mac, back then he said he spoke to him about it, hence Dinwiddy was able to say he didn’t remember him doing so.

      Sayonara Chuckie. It wasn’t the Enquiry that did you in, it was your poor handling of your ministry, although the childish way you dealt with (and still deal with) the Enquiry didn’t help.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Well according to Mr. Clifford he is a lawyer. I think that is something you might want to take up with him. 

  11. Jedi Dread says:

    This guy is a criminal. Plain and Simple. He removed documents that were Govt. Property, of this there is no doubt. If I did that at the law firm I worked at, I would have been fired and probably be put in jail.

    He is such an opportunistic loser, whose only concern is self. He even turned his back on his Fraternity, when he was campaigning, so it came as no surprise when he backed out on Charles Whittaker and basically ruined the boy’s career, simultaneously making the Cayman Islands look like a punk in eyes of Showtime and the International Boxing Community.

    This man cannot and should not be trusted, under any circumstances, his word is worthless. You cannot even trust his made-up statistics that he likes to publish every two weeks in the local papers. Check it out for yourself, his reports are constantly contradicting themselves, I’m not making this up.

    Chuckie, as Grandma would say, "I got a dog at home, and he looks just like you."

    – Jedi Dread –

    PS. Thank you Cluckie, for ruining the Cayman Islands Tourism Industry, single-handedly!

    PPS. Usually I do not get personal, but this man has ruined a lot of opportunities for a lot of us, the Caymanian people, and we are not happy.

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      In response to Jedi Dread. You should choose and use your words wisely. To call someone a criminal under these circumstances is libelous, rules and practices is different from laws therefore if no law is broken we have no criminal.

      Jedi what would you call Mr Bush for his First Cayman Bank fiasco that caused the Governor to relieve him of his ministerial duties?

      Charles is a boxer by choice and boxing is his career, we the people of the Cayman Islands already pay Charles a salary in the region of over CI$60,000.00 pa whether he fights one or two fights, now he expects us to fork out almost two million for lest than an hour at work? We all better change our careers too.I suggest he get a promoter and stop asking for welfare.

       

      PS. There is a jackass out there braying i wonder if his name is Jedi Dread?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Glad someone finally said he’s not a lawyer. He says that he is all the time and he’s NOT. Dishonesty shows up again in another area.

    Maybe now that he will be retired from office he can go and called called to the bar. Do you all remember when he first left government who he claimed it’s because he wanted to be called to the bar? Yet another lie!!

    He never intended to do that – the plan was laid out well in advance. What a web we weave and now it has come back to bite him.

    Good bye Chuckie … Good Luck!! You will soon be a faded memory for the people of Bodden Town.

  13. Redbayer says:

    Mr. Clifford is not a lawyer. He has done a law degree and professional exams but he has not done his articles.

    • Anonymous says:

      I support Mr. Clifford 100% the people of these Islands had all rights to know what was going on.  These are the kinds of people we need to in Government, honest…….. and have the people of these Islands at heart.

      I will be voting for Mr. Clifford on May 20, 09.

  14. Philip McCraking says:

    What rubbish from Chuckie. Had he not run for office then what he knew would have never made it into the public domain. It was pure personal gain. If he hadreal integrity he would have stayed in the civil service and blown the whistle there. That is Integrity – not taking files and revealing them the next year to kick off a political career. 

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh please, that whole affair was a storm in a teacup.  Do you really think Opposition politicians do not routinely use confidential information that they obtain from their supporters in the civil service?! ‘Twas alwaysso and always shall be. How is that all of a sudden people have become so high-minded that information is used to "kick off a political career". Enough of this hyprocrisy about Clifford! If that was his worst fault then we were blessed indeed.    

  15. Anonymous says:

    I do not think that this will be a deterent to other civil servants. I believe it would force them in the future to go through the proper channels and not use information for personal gain.

    I think that Mr. Clifford’s example (of going to the media and using HIS POLITICAL platform as the birthplace to replase the documetns for the first time was very wrong.  

    Read his words not mine in the article “What I did in 2004 when I resigned from public office is no secret to the people of this country," he said. “I spoke about it very publicly from the campaign platform, and when allegations were made against me about removing files, I admitted I had taken my files with me.”

    However, he has failed to and still fails to ackonwledge the fact that it was done for himself and his personal gain and no matter what he says at this point in time, it can never remove that fact that he is guilty for not going through the proper channels.

    To all other civilservants – for ethical and moral reasons – do the right thing and follow protocal – Mr. Clifford is a lawyer and thus should have known better – for law teaches us to follow proceedure always.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      sometimes you can’t follow procedure.  For instance, when there is a problem and you are on the bottom, you have to go to your immediate supervisor first, then their supervisor and so on.  It can be like five people in between and if you have a problem with your immediate supervisor and you "go over that person’s head" then that is brought up against you.  They make sure of that too like my boss put a simple communication problem in an e-mail to me and cc’d HR like I am some criminal. 

      I’m not defending Mr. Clifford. I’m just saying that goverment isn’t as easy as it seems.  He was a prosecuter so how can he not be a lawyer?