Port denies FOI abuse

| 26/10/2012

cruise ship at port.JPG(CNS): The Port Authority of the Cayman Islands denied that it had breached either “the spirit or the letter of the FOI Law” in the wake of a damning ruling from the information commissioner, who condemned the authority for the way it had handled a freedom of information request about the GLF proposals to build the cruise berthing facilities in George Town.  In a media statement released Friday evening following Jennifer Dilbert’s extremely critical findings regarding a hearing requested by CNS, the port refused to accept that it had done anything wrong, stating that it was “surprised and disappointed by the tone” of the commissioner’s decision.

“The Port Authority does not believe that the critical comments are in any way justified, nor are they relevant to the legal issues that were the subject of the ICO's ruling,” the port stated in its release following the decision published by CNS on Thursday.

“It is denied that the Port Authority has breached either the spirit or the letter of the FOI Law, and any suggestions to that effect are strongly rejected.  However, as the matter is still within the period for any appeal, the Port Authority does not believe that it is appropriate at this stage to debate the issues in the media,” the authority said after releasing the media statement.

However, CNS takes a different position and agrees with Dilbert’s ruling. Wendy Ledger, the CNS reporter who made the request, said, "Given the circumstances, it was an extremely restrained opinion from the commissioner and a credit to her professionalism.” 

When CNS asked for the release of documents from the port that had already been ruled on by Dilbert in a previous decision, the authority refused on the grounds that CNS was a different applicant, despite already knowing that the documents were not exempt under the law.

For no reason other than the authority’s recalcitrance, CNS was forced to wait  for the full thirty days, and when the documents were released it was clear that there were many more. Given the already protracted issues relating to the request, CNS handed the case over to the ICO, which then faced endless delaysand difficulties from the authority.

Despite the obstructionism and time wasting by the authority, the ICO were eventually able to see all of the documents and Jan Liebaers, the deputy commissioner, spent many days ploughing through reams of documentation examining what was exempt, what was irrelevant and what should be released  — a job which should have been undertaken by the port authority information manager.

“It was without doubt one of the most protracted FOI cases CNS has had to deal with,” said Ledger. "From the very outset, when it refused to release the original documents to CNS because we were a ‘different applicant’, the port set the tone for how this request progressed. We don’t do FOI requests at CNS for the good of our health or because we are bored, we do them because they are issues of public interest," she noted.

“Many people are still afraid to make request for a number of what are probably unfounded reasons and there is an expectation that the media will do this on the public’s behalf. After all, the Caymanian public will be the ones in the end who are footing what will be an enormous bill for the cruise facilities,” Ledger added.

In its statement on Friday the port clung to the issue of legal privilege over why it refused to release records, stating that it would consider its position regarding the documents which Dilbert said should be released.

See full port statement below.

Related article:

Port slammed over FOI abuse

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Used to see this kind of behaviour in Eastern Europe in the early days…obvious to all what was going on..fortunately in most places that got a lot better…which just shows that it can, but it needs Mrs Dilbert, CNS and all others to keep on pushing…

  2. Anonymous says:

    given the chance they would deny there was sand on the beach too.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ask an incompetent if they are doing a great job and what do you get?

      you get the answer to the question: Are you gullible?

  3. unka - shoja says:

    What continues to amaze me is, that we have "legislative leaders" who are lawyers but are constantly outsmarted by someone with a grade school education!  NEED I SAY MORE!


  4. Anonymous says:

    They are all very obviously afraid of losing their jobs. How long are we going to allow one bad apple to ruin our entire basket Cayman?

    • Anonymous says:

      As long as there is free gas on Cayman?  As long as Premeir means Premeir membership on Cayman airways?  As long as there is no accountability in Government and no usable records , reciepts, or anything usable to audit?  As long as Mt. Trashmore is high?  As long as there is still a mangrove left?  As long as Caymanians vote/hire friends over skill and experiance.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Shouldn't the Board of Directors of the Port Authority have held a meeting (with minutes) to approve such a press release? And shouldn't it be on their letterhead rather than plain paper?


    Or did Big Mac tell John Bunyan, "you will issue a press release, and this is what you will say"?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I did not have sexual relations with that woman!

    I dont know why but I believe him…

  7. Truth says:

    Sounds more like they have a lot to hide from the public eyes.  Not much of a surprise there considering what they have been up to and WHO is pushing them.  The reason for transparency is for the public to be able to see where and how their money is spent.  CIG does not have a good history of doing thisat all.   Dumb excuses and lame answers just shows non compliance at many levels.  If Cayman is going to be a true democracy in the future it must change from what it IS now.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Sad, sad, typical Cayman public entity attitude – deny wrongdoing and never admit anything.  The responses to the FOI's and the Complaints Comissioner reports are all the same.  Pathetic.

  9. Anonymous says:

    One of the problems with FOI is that Cayman Islands public authorities are rapidly adopting the UK example where government departments (the FCO is notorious for this) simply try to 'out lawyer' applicants, regardless of the costs, when they want to keep things secret.

    It's been posted before but is worth repeating – there needs to be a mandatory limit on how much public money PAs can spend fighting FOI appeals and the employment of outside law firms needs to be either banned or at least severely restricted.

    CNS – Why not now file an FOI request to the Port Authority requesting details of how much they are spending on this fiasco?

    • Diogenes says:

      I see that the "press release" is written by Maples.  One thing to use a law firm to deal with legal issues, but to draft press releases?  An FOI on the costs of dealing with the FOI request would make interesting reading. 

  10. Anonymous says:

    cayman accountability……zzzzzzzzzzz

  11. Anonymous says:

    Given the two viewpoints, no wonder lawyers are involved.


    What a waste, these are both government entities. Government suing government, no wonder our tax load (sorry, fee load) is so heavy.


    I wish the money was spent helping poor people or improving the economy instead of lining rich lawyer pockets.

    • Richard Wadd says:

      When ANY Government is not accountable to it's people, that is called a DICTATORSHIP.

      The last time I checked, we are part of a Democracy and NOT a Soverign nation.

      Freedom of Information is LAW, and no Person, no Authority and no Government of these islands is above the Law (although there are those here who believe that they are).

      The FOI Law states that those responsible can be held accountable in their individual capacity. I think it's high time that the FOI Commisioner makes an example of the 'Overpaid,REPEAT offender/s' who both thumb their noses at the FOI Law & waste Government resources while collecting huge salaries every month in the process.

    • Anonymous says:



      I hope you all realise whos wasting all our money on probing into deals being made to help poor people and to boost  the economy.

      a) Its the opposition who wants to brainwash the people that Udp is corrupt.

      b) It's the political hopefuls who sees the country heading into the direction of a booming economy, and wantsto get their pockets full by thinking once they get into power they will step on every one's toes to achive this.

      Open your eyes people…. why would they want you to vote for them, if all these projects are not good for our country?. they are like wolves, just waiting to jump on their prey.

      C) Then we have the objectors, completly out of touch with whats happening around them, slagging off their leaders, because they couldnt get what they wanted at the time. So they decide to destroy who ever gets in their path….people like Mr. Dart who is keeping the cash flowing, and making the UDP party look  good, so they condem everything he does.

      d) Then we come to the expats, who envy, covet  and are jealous of our way of life, our vibrant economy. So they too get on CNS and slag off, from the Premier right down to the common man, calling them idiots. They cant stand people like Whodatis, for telling them the truth.

      Caymanians..we have to focus on the positive, focus on what a government can bring to the table, in terms of wealth and opportunities, not one that tries  to destroy every thing in its path,like A, B,  C, and D.

      Read, get informed with what is positive for you, stop going doewn that road of gossip, and slander.

      • Anon says:

        I for one would like to know the truth about this PUBLIC use of MY money. I would like to know why GLF was scrapped, whose decision it was, and why. Barring a response from those in controlof the information I am left to assume the worst.

        Oh, and good job on running us all out of business. Hope it was worth it to whatever went in YOUR pocket.

      • Chris Johnson says:

        Anonymous. 21.38. Bit late at night to make asinine remarks like this. You are pissed, been on the glue or smoking something. The fact remains that the Port Authority Board is inept, toothless and has no balls to stand up to a meglomaniac. They are incompetent, cannot make rational decisions and could not organize a piss up at a brewery.
        The rest of your blog is a rambling futility, without meaning and brings nothing of any interest to the public at large. Please confine your thoughts to yourself in the future.

      • Adult Fiction says:

        I won't go doewn that road of gossip, and slander BUT…..a vibrant economy?  Have you been outside lately? Cayman is in DEBT …big time or as you would put it.. det. If you haven't grasped that concept it isn't good and it isn't vibrant. Take it up with the door knocker.

    • Anonymous says:

      This country has become too corrupt and the sooner it comes to the reality that this must change the better. People must take their heads out of the sand and realise that the country is going down a slippery slope.  One of the virtures of Cayman was its almost lack of corruption back in the day but since the 90s all that went out the window now we are no better than all those countries that we love to point the finger at about being corrupt.   God help us all because this is shaping up to be one big mess. 

  12. Anonymous says:

    Me thinks thou dost protesteth too much!

    Remember this response from the Port Authority is just the response from an overpaid lawyer who's billing by the hour. Just because you protest doesn't mean we don't all believe you're guilty!

    Clean up your act. If you've got nothing to hide then disclose information as requested.

  13. SKEPTICAL says:

    It is a pity that, on the basis of the commentary by Ms Dilbert, the Port Authority cannot be held to be ” In Contempt of the IOC “,for their failure to comply with the demand for information – as they might be if this were a matter before the Grand Court, and subject to applicable legal sanctions. Their public denial of lack of compliance is laughable. Let’s hope that, if push comes to shove, their recalcitrant arses ARE dragged into Court, and the individuals concerned are publicly humiliated. This culture among government agencies that they are answerable to nobody, is a frightening indicator of ” Official ” anarchy.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Having read the Port Director's statement that it was the Board who dealt with this matter, I wonder who is the "Port Authority" that this press release refers to?  Is it the entity of the Port Authority, or is it the Board of Directors calling themselves the "Port Authority?"  If it is the Board of Directors calling themselves the Port Authority, then I think that too is deceptive and not a true disclosure.  I think the Information Commissioner should take this to court and seek to expose to the public, not only the documents, but those who have been all of this non disclosure in the first place.  For it is only when people find they have no place to hide, that there will be no more skeletons in closets.  You know what I mean?  Don't ease up Wendy and don't ease up Jennifer.  We smell a rat and we can now see the tail.  Hopefully we will soon see the rat.

    • Anonymous says:

      After reading the enormous amouts of uncalled for blogs maybe it's time for the Port Director in his capacity to tell the country the names of the individuals that wanted the information with-held. Was it John Henry Ebanks – Chairman, who is a Sr VP incharge of compliance at a local bank or was it the office of the Premier who gave written and verbal instructions to him to with-hold the information. Inside information, scatchy as it maybe, points to to the chairman and the Premier's office who instruct the Port Director not to have anything to do with FOI request but they will be dealth with through legal consel. This seems to follow the wording in the ICO's decision, doesn't it?

      As to how the Port Authority is set up; the Port Authority is a legal entity set up under the law of 1976 with the C.I. Government being the share-holder and a board of directors heading its operations just like a ordinary company. However, the difference is that LLC's have strict guidelines, company law, M & A of association, etc, etc, etc, to guide it's actions the Port does not. It operates on the 1976 law which are no longer relevant. If you doubt me have a read of it some day. The Port Director is the CEO and appointed by the Board of Directors to carry out their wishes until.

      Without calling names, information gathered from sources close to this hearing says that there are players who are related and it seems they are trying to make a name for themselves. If I were to guess at who these players are I would say the ICO and the lawyer for the Port Authority. Both are high strung and wants to make a name for them selves. I can bet my last dollar if the lawyer is who I'm thinking that bill is reaching in the100 of thousands of dollars.

      In retrospect, if the Port Director is innocent he must not be afraid to expose that Board of enept and incompetent Directors. Can anyone in their right mind see John Henry Ebanks being the Chairman of the most important entity in government. My God what have you cursed us with.       

      • Will Ya Listen! says:

        …and we wonder why the finacial world accuses us of devious practices (real or imagined). Négligées are the only transparent thing in Cayman.

        We can't even obtain information from our own Government (and we elected these questionable louts) and we passsed a LAW (reluctantly) about  obtaining it . We have a hard working professional trying her best to give Cayman some credence in the eyes of the outside world and we betray her efforts and only look like a Tin pot country with tin pot leaders.


        • Anon says:

          True, true, and well said.

          Cheers for Mrs. Dilbert. Please Don’t stop, we need and appreciate you!

        • Anonymous says:

          Not to worry, my friend. We can all be very thankful that our eternally honerable premier is becoming much more transparent every single day. Even to the fridge recipients.


      • Anon says:

        No wonder this is such a cluster F###! Given the current chairman, and puppeteer, it is no surprise.
        Zero integrity.