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Use of Reserve Powers

HE the Governor, Stuart Jack, CVO

Statement by HE the Governor, Stuart Jack, CVO on the Use of Reserve Powers

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has given me approval to use my power to act against the advice of the Cabinet. I want to explain why this has happened, and why it is necessary.

Everyone should be sure of one thing, that the relationship between the UK and the Cayman Islands is a partnership and that these powers should indeed be reserved for exceptional situations. I know that Ministers in London share my view.

On Tuesday, Ministers of the Cayman Islands' Government advised me that they were not prepared to continue to finance the special police investigations, they declined to authorise the Attorney-General to negotiate or conclude discussions with Judge Henderson over his damages, or to fund those damages.

As Governor, I have to see the matter differently. There are two issues at stake. The first is about the Rule of Law. Sir Peter Cresswell has directed us to try to agree damages with Justice Henderson. He has trusted the Cayman Islands Government to act in good faith. And we must do this, whatever the unfortunate circumstances that led to the question of damages.

The second issue at stake is good governance. I know that there are many people on this island who are worried about the police investigations, particularly about what they are costing, about the time they take. I know that many people wish that the whole issue could just disappear overnight. But we live in the real world. Allegations - serious allegations - don't just disappear. Court judgements can't simply be ignored.

When I embarked on this path last year, I knew it would be difficult - perhaps not quite how difficult - but I knew it was a commitment for the long haul. I have a duty to everyone in the Cayman Islands, but at the moment, my duty seems strongest to the people who contacted the investigations team, of their own accord, to report instances of police misconduct. These people were brave, and cannot be let down. I need to make sure that the investigations are given the funding they need to be completed.

In today's economic climate, it is important that the Government look very carefully at public funds. I sympathise with the difficult decisions that they have had to take - and I applaud their stated intention to be responsible towards public money.

I too am mindful of the expenses, but I feel that it is important that we see these investigations through, for the good of people here in the Cayman Islands and for the reputation of the Islands.

That is why the Foreign Secretary has given me approval to use these powers to authorise a financial allocation to the special investigation against the advice of Cabinet and to authorise the Attorney-General to seek the best possible financial settlement with Justice Henderson.

This action does not change how the United Kingdom views its relationship with the Cayman Islands. On virtually every other issue, I enjoy an open and co-operative relationship with the Cabinet. Only this time last week, delegates from London remarked on how constructive the Constitutional negotiations were. I know that Minister Merron looks forward to welcoming the Cayman delegation to London in the next two weeks.

This is the spirit that characterises the partnership between the Cayman Islands and UK, and it allows us, when we disagree, to be honest about why we have disagreed and our reasons. It is why I am issuing this statement today, to tell people why I, why the UK Government, have disagreed with the Cabinet over the special police investigations.

And to assure the people of the Cayman Islands that, regardless of these disagreements, my commitment to the Cayman Islands is as strong as it ever was.

Statement by Gillian Merron MP, Minister of State,

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Friday, 23 January 2009

On behalf of the Secretary of State, I have given approval to the Governor of the Cayman Islands to act against the advice given to him by the Cayman Islands Cabinet, in order to ensure that the Cayman Islands Government meet their responsibilities in a local court judgement and to adequately finance a police investigation.

The Governor has my full support in this action. I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm to all the people on the Cayman Islands that the close and co-operative relationship the UK shares with your Islands remains unchanged.

Sometimes countries in close partnership disagree. This is one of those occasions. But our deep, historical ties still bind us. I look forward to welcoming a delegation from the Cayman Islands next month to discuss a Constitution that will take us into the future.

For further information contact: Susan Watler