OCC lauded by Kilpatrick

| 17/07/2014

(CNS): The governor lauded good governance last week as the Office of the Complaints Commissioner was marking ten years of dealing with government complaints. Despite the current fiasco over her own office's battle to keep a record of a complaint about the management of the controversial probe Operation Tempura secret, Helen Kilpatrick, emphasized, ironically, the importance of public confidence in the conduct of government. Regardless of the conduct of her own office and its failure to be transparent over the Tempura complaint, the UK's representative appeared to be telling civil servants 'to do as I say and not as I do' at the OCC event.

“It is essential that the people of the Cayman Islands have confidence in the conduct of their government,” she said, adding this applied to every aspect of the public sector as she pointed to spending of public funds, the provision of education and healthcare to the treatment of prisoners and the management of the islands’ waste, but not it appeared transparency in her own office.

“The public should have a method of recourse when they feel they are the victims of unacceptable conduct, inadequate administration or when there has been an unreasonable interpretation of the law,” Kilpatrick said. “Where there are failings, it is essential that there is an independent body which can address these,” she added, praising the work of the OCC, led by Commissioner Nicola Williams.

The comments from the governor come just days after the information commissioner ordered her office, once again, to release the documents that relate to a complaint made by both the former lawyer and senior investigating officer on the bungled Operation Tempura probe. The complaint was dismissed by the former governor but the report of the dismissal has been the subject of battle lasting more than a year between the governor's office and the ICO that has cost the Cayman tax payer tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees as the British representative in Cayman continues to try and keep the controversial report and the details of the complaint secret.

Kilpatrick has become the third governor involved in the fiasco and has continued on the path of trying to fight the release. It is not clear, however, if she will be continuing the fight in the face of the acting commissioner’s latest direction to her office to release the relevant records.

William's office, which is similar to the ICO in that it too is an independent watchdog for good governance and conducts research into how well government delivers services and deals with problems. One of several institutions created to bolster democracy and transparency in government, it supports the civil service in processing complaints by providing training and encouragement. It also confers awards on government personnel who manage internal complaints.

"This outreach work is crucial to ensure that standards are maintained throughout the Cayman Islands Civil Service,” the governor said at the celebration held last week.

Kilpatrick encouraged the public sector to work with the OCC and consider its recommendations. In an ironic twist, she said that only timely action bolsters public confidence that complaints are taken seriously, after her office has sat on these documents for more than two years.

Despite praising Williams, CNS also understands that the current commissioner's contract comes to an end this month. Williams has served five years and so far no recruitment process has begun nor, according to members of the Legislative Assembly, has Williams been given a new contract.

MLA and chairman of the oversight committee, Ezzard Miller, attested to the high quality and high standards upheld Williams and her staff. The committee, comprising sitting House MLAs, receives quarterly reports from the Commissioner about the working of the OCC, he said.

British Virgin Islands’ Complaints Commissioner Elton Georges, a special guest at the ten year anniversary celebration, noted the OCC’s high quality of work had garnered both regional and international attention.

Meanwhile, Williams also unveiled the fifth edition of the OCC-produced Small Claims Handbook, written by local attorney and a former OCC intern, Brett Basdeo. The publication aims to demystify the small claims court process, empowering those who wish to bring claims under $20,000,

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  1. UHUHUH says:

    And I quote! “The public should have a method of recourse when they feel they are the victims of "unacceptable conduct,inadequate administration" or when there has been an "unreasonable interpretation of the law,” Kilpatrick said. Where there are failings, "it is essential" that there be an independent body which can address these,” she added, praising the work of the OCC, led by Commissioner Nicola Williams. End quote!                  

    I wonder if these words are repeated when Her Excellency speaks with the FCO re the  Commissioner and her determination to expose injustices here in the Cayman Islands! 

    "MLA and chairman of the oversight committee, Ezzard Miller, attested to the high quality and high standards upheld by Ms.Williams and her staff" Which begs the question! Why at this late stage of the Commissioner's contract' has there not been any formal announcement made re her tenure as head of the OCC?

    If you believe as many of us do, that Ms. Williams has set an "exemplary example" of what we here in the Cayman Islands, expect from those who are appointed by the FCO to positions of this nature, then let us all indicate to the FCO and Governor Kilpatrick that we want Ms. Williams to remain as the head of OCC by giving this comment a thumbs up. We need more people like Ms.Williams, The Auditor General and the new head of the ICO.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ouch!  This is not about glorification of Williams.  This is about the role of that office.  She is just doing her job.  Posts like these leave a bad taste.

      • anonymous says:

        You're so right!  Posts "like yours" leave a bad taste. So I decided to  give you a thumbs down.

        • Anonymous says:

          Let me make it clear that I have nothing against the current director. I know her and I like her, and I do think she is doing a good job.

          But to try to campaign for her to get a contract renewal is just plain on poor taste.

  2. Knot S Smart says:

    We have to appreciate that our present UK Representative is a lot nicer than some that we have had in the past…

    And her comments about good governance and the OCC are commendable even though some of us might consider it an oxymoron…

    Anyway.. Its the weekend and I will have a few beers and ponder the issue of what we should tell, or not tell, the public…

    • Anon says:

      She's only nicer because she isn't doing anything, other than make truly inadvisable and insensitive statements about the media.

    • Anonymous says:

      I tend to agree with Knot S Smart on the current Governor.  I think she is a quality person and in that respect supersedes many of her predecessors. Let us give her some credit.

      On the matter at hand, I suspect that there is little to be gained by airing of the documents that I have little doubt will only continue to malign the territory and its institutions.  I, for one, do not wish for that Bridger to do any more unjustified damage that he has already done.

      May I remind the public that a previous Governor had stated that Bridger himself was free to release the documents.  Ask yourself why he won't do so — why does he want the Governor's Office to do his dirty work for him? Is it because he is  plain scared? Perhaps he should be — when one makes scurrilous allegations one can expect repercussions in kind.

      honestly, I feel a little like Knot S Smart — everyone here seems to be doing his or her job — the ICO has to rule according to its principles and Policies — but the Governor has to balance out the impact of releasing scurrilous allegations on the Islands' reputation and general well being.  You know what, I am with the Governor on this.

      Why are we giving Bridger a platform for more potential to harm these islands?  

      Media — why don't you get the information from Bridger? He is the originator, is he not?

      CNS: I believe Martin Bridger is legally retrained from releasing the documents.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why would the UK Government's double standards on public standards and ethics be a surprise? Just review the News of the World scandal a few years ago which implicated the Metropolitan Police and see how they work in their own society. Who then is this little colonial property to expect higher standards and ethics?! 

  4. hector says:

    I know CNS. You have to at least say something positive about her, because if you don't she may put you out of service. You know.  She the Governor. She is not a woman with no strings. She will pull them and they will pull her. 

  5. John Evans says:

    It will be interesting to see HE's reaction when I file my long-overdue complaint to the OCC about the decision to refuse to re-open and complete the Tempura/Cealt audit.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh we cant wait…………for the love of God give it up already.


  6. We must stand as One says:
    • Thank you for publishing and keeping this story alive, ladies of CNS. I noticed, but not surprised that The Cayman Compass has not done an editorial on Kilpatrick's criticisms of  local media houses. I find it suspect because not too long ago, the paper was all over the new Gov and exultations were abound. My guess is, they don't want to be excluded from any events or tea parties. 😉
    • I thank you for not holding back and telling it as you see it and calling out such encroachment on the freedoms of the press and the right to know the truth for the Cayman people. 
    • “If large numbers of people believe in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it. But if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.”—George Orwell, author, c. 1945
    • AnnaMouse says:

      Actually the Compass is on this with an Editorial today.  It must be difficult to decide what to write about for any given day given the sheer amount of foolishness on the go in these islands!  Takes a few days to get through a good range fo topics. 

      • We must stand as One says:

        Figures. The minute something is said as such, boom! It happens. Murphy (Law), you’re a sly one. However, it took the Cayman Compass several days to get around to jumping on that very important and dangerous stance/thoughts/statements/warning(?).

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am complaining about Helen Kilpatrick's lack of action on any important  issue for the people she is supposed to be governing.

    I mean it is pretty brazen of her to occupy one of the most beatiful locations on our islands without so much as lifting a finger, yes, dammit, I am complaining! Lady, you have had a lot of time to endear yourself to us and at the moment, we are seriously disappointed. 

    Poor Duncan did nothing and you seem to be surpassing him in the doings of nothing.

    • C'mon Now! says:

      Hey a Govn'r who does nothing is much better than one who is always involved.

  8. Anonymous says:

    How ironic….or as Mac would say "hypocritical".

    Good talk Guvna….but I don't believe you! Release the Tempura documents as ruled by the ICO and your words might not seem so misleading!