31 August, 2008


400 Posts. On 29 August, this blog published its 400th post. The opportunity for a little reflection should not be missed. Have there been any noticeable successes? Have there been any apparent failures? Has anything been achieved? Should one even ask the question?

First, successes of the blog. There have been only a few. The first and most important success is a general one. It is that I have thoroughly enjoyed myself writing it. The blog has given me an opportunity I never had before. I am now free to complain and speak out on issues. As a lawyer and a judge, I was previously obliged to try to keep quiet. As a lawyer, when I did not, it was my clients that suffered. As a judge, when I did not, the public reaction was that judges should not try to be social reformers. This newfound freedom must be good for a person’s mental and physical health. The many emails and telephone calls the blog generates has helped keep me in touch with the man on the street.

There have been one or two unexpected specific successes. One has been the campaign to encourage the police force to engage the public more effectively. When I first wrote about the appalling situation with the police force on 21 December 2006, the public perception of the force was dismal. The weekly press conference that commenced shortly after the blog called for better public relations has done much to calm public fears about a failing police presence on the island. I receive many fewer complaints about lack of information from the police now. Discussion on constitutional reform proceeds, all be it slowly and painfully. Lolita Richardson has produced her first draft of a Constitution for the Chief Minister’s Committee. I have not yet been able to examine it closely. So, I have no opinion on it to express, yet.

Failures, if one wishes to call them that, have been many. Government continues mainly to be run in secret. There is no initiative to consider freedom of information legislation. No credible start has been made on integrity legislation. The FCO continues its laissez faire attitude to good governance in Anguilla. This might better be described as abandonment. Those in charge of the government website have succeeded in keeping it free of any meaningful information. Government continues to do its work without any planning or principle to guide it. The Land Development Control Committee continues to conceal both the applications made to it and its decisions. Members of the public meet me on the street and tell me that they would like to share information they have of wrongdoing, but they have to protect their families. The fear of victimization is palpable everywhere you go. Government’s involvement with the arts and culture continues to be limited to the barbarian activities of an imitation Trinidadian-type Carnival held once a year. Criminal activity by public servants continues to be swept under the carpet. Racism, isolationism, and protectionism continue to be hallmarks of public discourse. Youth-crime continues to grow daily. There are dozens of other failures.

Not to worry. I know I am no social reformer. I have neither the requisite skills nor the resources of time and dedication. There must be hundreds of persons employed in the private and public sectors in Anguilla who know better than me what needs to be done to bring about real reform in the way the government functions. If they have the ability or opportunity to initiate real change, hopefully, one day they will gain the courage to seize the moment.

I have no regrets. This blog has given me an opportunity for me to express my opinion. Whether anyone agrees or not is not the point. It allows persons who wish to do so to share their opinions. Whether you do or not is up to you. This blog is not a mechanism designed specifically to bring about positive change in the governance of our island. When it happens, that is an unexpected good fortune.

On to the next 400. God’s willing.

29 August, 2008


Chief Minister Osborne Fleming Responds in the Anguilla House of Assembly to the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee Recommendation for an Inquiry. Those of you who follow Anguilla’s public affairs will know that the FAC has recommended a Commission of Inquiry into allegations of corruption in Anguilla. I will not repeat all the history of this recommendation and the events leading up to it. Those of you who are not familiar with the subject of the FAC Investigation can read all about it at the links below at the foot of this post.

On 15 July 2008, using the privilege of not being liable to be sued for anything defamatory said in the House of Assembly, the Hon Chief Minister Osborne Fleming reacted to the FAC recommendation. Two Anguillians had made written submissions to the FAC. He accused them of deliberately destroying Anguilla. He referred to them as foreigners who have no love in their hearts. His language was violent and vituperative in the extreme. His words can fairly be described as a call for all right thinking Anguillians to shun and avoid the two persons.

The dramatis personae are Don Mitchell and Harry Wiggin. The theory the Chief Minister advances in his speech is a simple one. In case you have difficulty following his argument, I will explain. Harry Wiggin married an Anguillian. He sent a submission to the FAC. His must have been a marriage of convenience. Don Mitchell and his wife decided not to have any children. Don Mitchell sent a submission to the FAC. Any man who is deliberately without a child is incapable of love. Don Mitchell must hate all Anguillians. Both Mitchell and Wiggin are evil persons who are bent on the destruction of Anguilla. That is the only reason why they made their submissions to the FAC. And, they are doing all this because they are opposed to the government trying to go for full internal self government for Anguilla.

If you would like to hear his words in living audio, I have the speech divided into two parts here.

Part 1:

Part 2:

If you would like to read his words, I have tried my best to accurately transcribe them below for you. Read the speech for yourself.

Transcript of a portion of a speech by the Hon Chief Minister, Mr Osborne Fleming, in the Anguilla House of Assembly on 15 July 2008.

The big question this morning, Mr Speaker, as I deal with tourism, is that I was called this morning and I was told that the major hotel operators in Anguilla are concerned about the accusation about corruption and bribery with the ministers in Anguilla, to the extent that they are so nervous, for one, the US government will get wind of it eventually, and begin to tighten up on them, and two, the people who are potential investors and buyers will ward off. They are very concerned about this loose talk about bribery going on in Anguilla today.

I made the point last night that these accusations are not the ministers, you know. Each of us, each of us here will pay the price for that. Each of us in Anguilla will pay the price for that loose talk that went on.

But, you must remember, Mr Speaker, that the perpetrators of the destruction of Anguilla, because that is just what it is, it is the destruction of Anguilla, deliberately destroying Anguilla, deliberately destroying Anguilla! I want to make this point, that there is nothing like a mother's love.

Oh, when you see a woman does not have a child, Mr Speaker, when a father does not have a child, it is a sad thing. You take a child, that mother takes that child and she holds that child in her lap, and she feeds him from the breast, and she looks at his beautiful eyes as he sucks. That reminds you of true love, true love. Take that child. I am not a mother, but I see it in my children. And the mother gloats with pride and joy. But, when people have no children, there is no love in them. Hardly, I say hardly. Not everybody.

It is a good thing, Mr Speaker, to have a child. It is a good thing to have a child, because you have love for your fellow men and your country. But, when you don't have, then you have problems. I thought of that last night.

We have one mother here, and she can tell you the joy she has when that little baby is in her hands, how sweet. But, when people deliberately do not want that joy, they can't have love for their country, they can’t have!

So, I come back to the point of the bribery, and to say that me and the ministers, and the members on the other side, you are affected the same way. Understand that. It is not Mr Banks, Mr Rogers, Mr Fleming, Mr Harrigan and Mr Hughes, it is all of us paying the price for this.

I am not guessing what I am saying. The document that I have here is clear. And I want to say, Mr Speaker, where we are even threatened by the Foreign Affairs Committee not to say nothing to these people. Well, I want to tell you one thing. I am in Anguilla, in Anguilla, and I am not afraid of any of them.

I strayed a little bit. I want to come back to this, “Finally, the Committee concludes . . .” this is what the document says that went from the Foreign Affairs Committee to the British Government. They conclude by saying that, “It would be deplorable and totally unacceptable for any individual who has assisted the Committee with its inquiry to be subjected to threats, intimidation or personal sanctions or violence in any form.” We are not doing that to anybody. We are going to talk the truth. “If the Committee is informed of any such retaliatory measures being taken against any person who has submitted formal or informal evidence to this Inquiry, it will take all appropriate steps within it powers . . .”

We are going to come down. We are in Anguilla.

Mr Speaker, I mention all this because it encumbers our tourism, our livelihood, our life.

And, the list of written evidence to the Commission . . . Members are free to have a look at it . . . Overseas Territories. Anguilla: Don Mitchell CBE QC, and Harry Wiggin.” I was to have approached the Queen long ago, and ask her, how is it they give people QC. I want to do it, and I am going to have to do it soon. These two people have seeked to destroy the livelihood of the people of Anguilla and our children by deliberately spoiling Anguilla's name. Deliberately, these two people.

They talk about corruption. You know, Mr Speaker, when I get in here I am going to talk, I am going to talk. They tried their best. And, the main reason for all of this is to stand in our way for seeking full internal self-government. That is the only reason. We are not saying that we are going to get there. But, we are trying to get there. And, they are doing everything to block us.

Could you imagine a Committee receiving a letter about the Ministers of Government and immediately publishes it all over the world, where my friends, and I am sure all members concerned. My children called and asked me what this was all about. Do you think it is an easy thing for us to go through this?

I do not know Mr Banks' position financially. But, I personally believe that if he received a bribe, he would have had on a totally different shirt and suit today. I would not owe a soul in the world. I have some loans at the bank. I would not owe a soul. If I was getting bribes, I would pay off my debt. This is what we are subjected to today. They have done that.

But, I am glad to say this, Mr Speaker, the people of Anguilla know better, know better.

There are people in Anguilla, Mr Speaker, who obtained belongership in the following ways: one, by legitimately and decently marrying somebody. That is one. Two, by being married to somebody for five years, automatically you get it. And, if you live in Anguilla continuously for fifteen years, you get Anguilla belongership.

And, we have had a number of cases of marriages of convenience. We had a young man who was in gaol here, who was being deported to St Kitts, and a girl from Anguilla went in the gaol and married him, so he could stay here. That is what is going on. Is that corruption? I don't know. But, what I do know is that we have that system in high places. A lot of Anguillians do not know this, that we have people in high places doing things of a similar kind.

And, I want to bring this House up to date on a case in point. One of the writers to the Foreign Affairs Committee . . . I want us around the table to be the judge of this . . . one of the writers here got married to an Anguillian girl. I have no problem with that. After three years, that person can apply for belongership. This writer applied for his belongership on the exact date that made three years. Gentlemen, listen to what I am saying, listen to what I am saying. You are decent. You are not corrupt. What did you come here for? You come for belongership? On the exact day that made three years he applied for his belongership. It came to my Permanent Secretary's attention. I got it. I said, let him bleach for a while, because this is clear cut to me. Something else!

And, these are the people that would seek to destroy Anguilla. People who are married here apply for belongership three or four months, sometimes a year after. The exact day! The fifteenth of March: the fifteenth of March. He could not wait a day, not one day could that . . . I wish I could . . . Not one day could he wait! He wants his belongership on the third day.

[change of tape]

It would not go as easy as this.

Mr Speaker, I want you to forgive me if in any way I have behaved unseemly in this House. But, you must understand that we are only human, and that this is the only place in the world where we do not have to line up to get time. The only place. You go to St Maarten, you have to line up. This is the only place where you do not have to ask for time. Home, Anguilla! This belongs to us. And, it hurts when someone, when two foreigners, two foreigners, could come in here and try to destroy the life of all the people of Anguilla.

Mr Speaker, one of the writers is in Court right now for accusing us of corruption, in court right now accusing us of corruption, and we are going to push it to the hilt. Because, you cannot admit, apologise, and you go back. Because, in one statement made here by the other one, the foreign fellow from England, says that the other one was charged for accusing us of corruption, and it went on to talk . . . I can't find the item. But, this letter I have in my hand here is a copy of the submission from Harry Wiggin, Anguilla, sent to the Foreign Affairs Committee on the 21st of January. It is right in there.

I have sympathy for any Anguillian girl who subject themselves to be used by people like that, where, as far as I am concerned, there is a marriage of convenience. It is wrong. I have no respect for anybody to take that position.

I do not mind the personal attack. I am used to it, and, now that I am retired, there is little else, short of physical violence, they can do to harm me. What concerns me is the implied threat to any other Anguillian who gives information to the proposed Inquiry if it should take place. Not everyone in Anguilla will be as immune as I am. Most Anguillians will be terrified at the thought of being at the receiving end of similar vilification if they cooperate with any inquiry.

Most Anguillians of working age are employed by government, by far the largest employer on the island. Their jobs and future promotions will be at risk.

Most public servants are parents of school age children. They depend on political favour to get scholarships for their children. All children in Anguilla are eligible for scholarships. These scholarships, however, are awarded by favour. There is no selection process that is not subject to a final political decision. Anyone giving evidence or information to any Inquiry will know that there will never be any hope of a scholarship for their child.

All Anguillians presently live in fear of victimisation, real or imagined. In the face of this warning, to cooperate with any Inquiry will actually appear to invite victimisation.

That intimidation has got to be addressed.

Related Posts:

22 July 2008

9 July 2008

5 July 2008

18 January 2008

15 December 2007

5 November 2007

11 July 2007

24 August, 2008

Parental Responsibility

Legislating for Parental Responsibility. I read with interest this story from Bermuda. The government is considering introducing legislation to make parents and guardians liable for the criminality of their children. Is that legal? Every Anguillian law student knows that criminal liability usually depends on two factors coming together. First, you need a prohibited act. Second, you need a guilty mind. Without a guilty mind and a criminal act, you are not normally guilty of a crime. Unless, it is a crime of strict liability.

I remember Fitzroy Bryant of St Kitts. He was the Minister of Education in 1975 when I was a young lawyer practising in Basseterre. There was a serious problem of truancy at the time. He convinced his Cabinet colleagues to introduce a new offence into law. It was called “persistently permitting your child to be absent from school.” Many people said it was wrong to make a parent liable when his or her child stayed away from school. The cry was that most parents send their children off to school. They have no knowledge that the child does not attend but, instead, limes under the tree smoking marijuana and pretending to be a wannabe Los Angeles gansta. But, it did work. So far as I recall, the offence was never challenged in court. It may still be on the statute books in St Kitts, for all I know.

The way Fitzroy explained it would work was like this. Anyone seeing a child of school age on the street during school hours was encouraged to report the incident. The police would drive to the spot and pick up the child. They would find out if the child had written permission from the school principal to be out of school. If the child did not, he or she was taken to the police station and made to sit on the bench. The parent or guardian would be called to the station. He or she would be warned. The second time, there would be a more severe warning. The third time there would be a final warning. The fourth time was evidence of persistence. Now, the parent or guardian had some explaining to do. They cannot say they did not know their child was a persistent truant. They had received enough notice. They had plenty of time to work on finding out what was the child’s problem, and taking ameliorative action. It is this failure that was to be the offence. They would receive a summons to appear before the Magistrate. The Magistrate could fine or send to prison. Needless to say, no one expected a parent to be fined or imprisoned. Fitzroy’s hope was that the shock and shame would be sufficient. The parents would put that child under such heavy manners that future truancy would be out of the question. Did it work? I never heard that it did not.

So, there is nothing in principle wrong about making a parent liable for an offence when the child is persistently committing criminal acts. Presumably, it would not apply to the first instance of criminal conduct. Perhaps, not even to the second. But, a child doing criminal damage or criminal injury or engaging in any criminal conduct for a third time?

If the parent was liable for jail time, I guarantee you the third time would never happen. It would help if there was provision for counseling in life skills and civic responsibility before the third occasion. But, there can be no denying that it is what happens or does not happen in the home that decides whether or not a child grows up to be a pillar of society or a cancer on the body civic.

Is it time for us in Anguilla to contact the Bermuda government and learn from their legislation?

20 August, 2008


HE GG Sir Danny Williams, centre

It almost seems like the new Grenada Government has been following this blog. Either that, or its policy makers are avid readers of the Barbados Free Press. If the Barbados Free Press is the most important medium in the West Indies demanding integrity in public service, then the Caribbean Net News is the only worthwhile regional provider of up to date political, economic, and social news. I make the time to read them both each day. If you have any real interest or involvement in the West Indies, I urge you to do the same.

What can only be described as a flush of pleasure ran through me when I read the Net News story from Grenada today. It reported on the first sitting of the Grenada House of Representatives since Tillman Thomas became Prime Minister. Governor General Danny Williams read the Throne Speech. This was the extract that really got my attention:

“The Governor General announced that the government will set up an Integrity Commission to ensure integrity in public life. The Commission, he said, will obtain declaration of the assets and liabilities and income of persons in public life.

He also said a Public Procurement Authority will be established to regulate public procurement and practices in the Public Service.

In a move to prevent corruption, the Governor General also announced the establishment of an Investment Policy Review Committee to look at investment proposals (local and foreign) before they are considered by Cabinet, as well as a National Economic Council to advise the Government on macro-economic policies and other major issues.

Sir Daniel also announced the appointment of an Ombudsman, who will have the power to investigate the administrative actions taken by on behalf of Government and other public authorities, including statutory corporations.

He also said that the government will concentrate on good governance, reducing the cost of living and stronger economic management.”

The list of proposed reforms reads in the main like an index of this Blog:

Integrity Commission

Register of Interests

Public Procurement Authority

Investment Policy Review Committee

National Economic Council


Good Governance

Reducing Cost of Living

Strengthening Economic Management

These are issues we in Anguilla can only dream about. We can imagine how much of an improvement could be made in our government if we had one half of these measures in place. Unfortunately, with a government that runs the country like it is a second hand car sales outlet, we have no hope at all.

If PM Thomas really means what he says, then Grenada has a hope for recovery. None of us will ever forget how the police and coast guard of Grenada pirated the Red Cross and other humanitarian relief vessels that went from Trinidad to Grenada after Hurricane Ivan in 2004. And, they got away with it scot free. If he is really serious, then one of the most corrupt, failed states in the West Indies may yet be turned around. If it is just empty promises, like PM David Thompson of Barbados seems to be making, then we shall have been betrayed by our leaders once again.

Let us give PM Thomas the traditional first one hundred day honeymoon period to see what he actually does about these promises.

18 August, 2008

Government Accounts

The Published Accounts of the Government of Anguilla and the Report of the Chief Auditor. Have you ever seen a copy of the audited public accounts of the Government of Anguilla? I never have. I consider that very careless of me. Every educated Anguillian should read a copy of the national accounts and audit report each year. We should make ourselves able to comment intelligently on them? They are our accounts.

The fact that we do not receive a gift of money from the British taxpayers does not mean that we should not be concerned about our national accounts. When your bank account is in the black, are you less careful about reconciling your bank statements than when they are overdrawn? No, you check them every month to make sure that no mistake has been made. It should be no different with our national accounts. Just as important as the national accounts is the report prepared each year by the Chief Auditor. He examines the government accounts and produces a report on them. He advises whether he has found any questionable activity in the accounts.

The Chief Auditor for Anguilla is Martin Daynes of the National Audit Office of the United Kingdom. He is appointed by the Governor under section 79 of the Anguilla Constitution 1982. He is independent of the government. He reports only to the House of Assembly. His report is supposed to be the main tool used by the Public Accounts Committee in its supervision of the manner in which government has spent the money voted by the House of Assembly. We know the PAC does not function in Anguilla, and never has. Could that be the reason why it is so difficult to find anyone who has seen the national accounts or the report on them?

A Chief Auditor typically produces four types of auditor’s report on the national accounts of a government. The four types may be summarised as follows:

Type 1. Where the audit has revealed nothing amiss, the Chief Auditor issues an unqualified audit opinion. This is sometimes referred to as an "audit certificate" or (especially by private sector audit firms) as an "audit report". The wording of such a report follows a standard format, as laid down in International Standards on Auditing. The audit report is appended to the accounts to which they relate.

Type 2. Where the audit has revealed an issue which merits the attention of the reader of the accounts, the Chief Auditor prepares a written report on the matter in addition to the standard (Type 1) audit report. Such reports can, for example, result from major errors or omissions being found in the evidence supporting the figures in the account. In such circumstances, the Chief Auditor’s audit opinion will almost certainly be qualified in one or more respects. This is called a Special Report. Whenever such a report is delivered, you would expect that the PAC would have a lot of questions for the different government departments.

Type 3. The Boards of many of Anguilla's government agencies have the power to appoint their external auditor. From 2004, the Social Security Board appointed the accounting firm of KPMG as their external auditor. When they do so, the Financial Administration and Audit Act 2003 requires the Chief Auditor to report on the results of the agency's audits. I have searched the Social Security website. In previous posts on this Blog, I complained that no audited reports were available. Now, I find the reports for the years 2000, 2002 and 2003 posted on the Board’s website. I read the 2003 Auditor’s Report on the web. I was pleased to find that it is a clean report. It is signed by Martin Daynes, as the law requires. This is to be commended. But, is it usual or acceptable for the accounts of a Social Security Board to be five years in arrears in publication?

Type 4. The Financial Administration and Audit Act of 2003 permitted the Chief Auditor for the first time to undertake examinations of the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which government uses resources. Such examinations are commonly called "Value for Money Audits". To date, the results of one such audit have been laid before the House of Assembly. The report was entitled "The Establishment and Operation of the Anguilla Health Authority". It covered how the Authority came to be set up, and the results achieved in its first two years (ie 2004 and 2005). It is in some ways a troubling report. It is deserving of more investigation and questioning. You should apply for a copy and read it for yourself. There were many questions that could have been asked in the PAC, and some person or persons brought to account.

I am told that the reports on the Government of Anguilla accounts up to the year 2005 should be available from the Ministry of Finance. I have applied. Someone is to let me know when the copies are ready for me, and what the cost is.

14 August, 2008


Why Don’t You Check your Facts First? I keep getting asked this. At first I was annoyed by the question. The answer should have been obvious. Now, I just ignore any comments to this effect that I receive. But, in fairness, and for the record, perhaps I should explain myself. If only so that, when you see me publishing something you know is not true, you will just smile and shrug your shoulders at yet another error, and at most send me a correction for publishing in the comments section.

This is a blog, for Heaven’s sake. A blog is a diary of personal thoughts and opinions. A blog is not a newspaper. I am not a journalist. I do not have research assistants. I do not investigate the facts. Any one who wants news and facts will not get them here. They should listen to 97.7 FM at 6:30 am and 95.5 FM at 7:00 am to get the local news. Or, they can read The Anguillian or The Light. These media publish news. This blog does not publish news.

I have my concerns. They revolve around the Anguilla public service and the personal and professional conduct of the individuals who serve Anguilla in a public capacity. I have strong views about how they are supposed to behave. What is needed in Anguilla is for more people to express their views and concerns about behaviour in public life. Through such discussion, we may come to some understanding, if not a consensus, on which standards are not acceptable, and which are. If anyone does not like it, too bad. We used to play a game as children. It was called, “Who vex, lose”. You know the rules.

Like all of us, I read and I listen. I have my own thoughts on what I read and on what I hear. It helps me to understand and contextualize things that I have heard and read if I put my thoughts and reactions down in writing. Once I hear or read a story within my area of interest, I start thinking about how it impacts Anguilla. I write to think. I seldom have the time or resources to properly investigate whether the story I have heard or read is all or partly true. This blog is not a record of facts and truths. It is nothing more than me thinking out aloud about the issues that concern me that have come to my attention.

I depend on those who email me or telephone me with stories to get their facts right. If they do not, and I should happen to republish facts that are not true, I depend on my readers to correct the errors. That is never something that causes me any hurt or concern. I am happy to publish corrections and alternative views. I am upset whenever I learn that I have got some facts wrong. I hasten to post a correction when that happens. But, I am not going to hold up my thought processes until I am sure I have got all the facts right.

This blog consists of my personal musings. They are not necessarily meant to elicit a comment from anyone. If I should be so honoured as to have someone read what I have written, and then for that person to be sufficiently concerned as to want to publish a comment on what I have written, I am doubly honoured. Whether the comment is supportive, or the contrary.

But, do not expect to read carefully researched facts or academic analysis on this blog. That is not what this blog is about.

13 August, 2008


Penny Legg should not have been censored. So wrote one of my correspondents. I do not know Penny Legg. I only know that she is the wife of the Governor’s Staff Officer. She also writes for The Anguillian Newspaper. She writes well. She recently did a post on her blog about the knifing of the young man in The Valley over Carnival. I reported at the time that I thought the post she wrote was quite perceptive. The following day, the post disappeared from her blog.

It was an innocent enough post. Indeed, she claims that she only removed it because of viruses and the spam that it attracted. Some of my correspondents think they know better.

Perhaps, the only criticism that could have been made about the post was that it naively came to the conclusion that any American or European traveler could care in the slightest what the fate is of a poor black Jamaican lad in Anguilla. As if such a stabbing would have any impact at all. Still, the post was caring and concerned. It should not have been removed from the blog. It should be preserved.

This is what she wrote:

Sunday, 10 August 2008
Carnival Trouble

As the 2008 Carnival season comes to a close, there were reports of a stabbing yesterday, Saturday 8 August, as rival gangs decided that the Last Lap Sunrise Street Jam, in the streets of The Valley, was the perfect place to stage a riot. I understand that police had to be drafted in from neighbouring island, St Martin, to assist Royal Anguilla Police with bringing order to the island once again.

This morning there is nothing about this event in the media, but talk is rife and people are shocked. There is no official news on the victim yet. It is understood though that the hospital broadcast calls for blood donors to come forward. As our radio, along with most of the rest of our possessions, is in a box waiting to be shipped, we missed this appeal.

If Anguilla means to ride out the world recession it must clean up its act. People have less money for holidays in their pockets and this must inevitably equate to fewer tourists coming to the island. Anguilla only has tourism. Without the tourist dollar, pound or euro Anguilla will sink. An American family, for example, faced with the option of going somewhere in the US or going to Anguilla for their well earned break, will look at crime levels and make judgements on how safe they feel the destination to be. At present, a local US resort will win hands down. Anguilla needs to look critically at the problem it has with its youth.

Some serious thought needs to go into formulating a response. Leaders also have to look hard at role models and throw the book at those who betray the public's trust. If those people youth look up to are seen, for example, to brandish and fire a gun, and are seen to get away with it, then what message does that send to the young of Anguilla? Role Models who commit crime should be used as an example and punished accordingly.

I am sorry to be leaving Anguilla but sorrier still that Anguilla is in its present state. Whatever prompted the riot yesterday, nothing gives anyone the right to stab anyone else.

Posted by Penny Legg at 09:57

I think her post is worth preserving. The visiting touroids could not care less that the young man subsequently died.

12 August, 2008


Trouble in Paradise. Penny Legg keeps a blog. She is the wife of the Governor's Staff Officer on Anguilla. She is an accomplished journalist and author. She published an article on her blog recently about the likely consequences of a Minister of Government in Anguilla brandishing an unlicensed gun at a civilian in the village of Island Harbour. He has now pleaded guilty, been convicted and fined.

She has now apparently been obliged to remove the post from her Blog.

In my view, her comments are worth preserving. I do not believe the post should have been censored.

The former Director of FCO/OTD, Leigh Turner and the Minister Meg Munn appeared a few months ago before the Foreign Affairs Committee. Munn had been poorly briefed. Turner made a fool of himself regarding his shameful treatment of Governor Richard Tauwhare in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Soon thereafter, it became known that Turner was being transferred to a diplomatic posting in festive Lithuania. Many thought he had been given the boot, since they had not known of his pending transfer before the FAC hearing.

Mrs Legg claims she was not censored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She says she only deleted the post because it attracted spam and viruses. Then, she will not mind if I preserve and reproduce her post.

It was called “Trouble in Paradise”. This is what she wrote:

Thursday, 7 August 2008
Trouble in Paradise

It is being quietly whispered, very quietly, that a certain prominent individual; an Elected Representative, Land Owner and Entrepreneur in Island Harbour, pulled an unlicensed gun and discharged it when one of his employees, with his family, visited the individual's home and asked to be paid money owed to him. The response, allegedly, was to be told in no uncertain terms to leave and the gun being produced and fired. The family retired in good order and promptly complained to the police.

Allegedly the police took 4 days to respond to the complaint and the individual has been arrested, bailed and released. I have to wonder if an 'ordinary' person would have had four days grace before being arrested for such an offence. Or if he would be released back into the community, rather than languishing in jail whilst awaiting the next Magistrate's sitting after the August holiday.

Don Mitchell, retired high court judge, writes the Corruption Free Anguilla and seems to have some more detail on this story if you are interested in reading about it.

What I would say is this: An elected representative is a resident just like everyone else on Anguilla. He should be treated as the rest of us would be in such circumstances. He has allegedly broken several laws and, if this is true, should be prosecuted.

He is, allegedly, a dangerous armed man, who is not afraid to intimidate adults and children alike, with a firearm. I hope that the Governor and Chief Minister makes sure that the law is followed and this individual, if the allegations are true, is not given the opportunity to do this again. Next time it could be tragic....

As an elected representative this individual should be setting a moral high ground. There have been moves recently to amend legislation on gun crime. That this individual has been in a position to vote on these amendments, whilst allegedly knowingly breaking the law by holding an unlicensed firearm, is, if it true, at best hypocritical and at worst, an example of corruption in the Government. The Anguillian reported in June the amendment of Section 50 (a) of the Firearms Act. This provides for 'persons found in possession of illegal firearms and ammunition in Anguilla to be liable on summary conviction to a fine of $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of three years or to both.

It will be interesting to see just what happens in this case.

Posted by Penny Legg at 08:12


Anonymous said...
Thank you for your comments on this very sensitive issue. I understand your position and your constraints and why your writing has been so "Nat and Brenda" until now.

Thank you for caring about us here in Anguilla. Best wishes to you and Joe on your next posting.

An Anguillian

07 August 2008 20:06

Penny Legg said...
Oh to be able to write what I like! If only....

I love Anguilla and do care. Joe and I will miss the island.

08 August 2008 18:06

11 August, 2008

National Accounts

Controversy in the Cayman Islands, and how the situation there reflects on Anguilla. The Cayman Islands' Auditor General, Dan Duguay, has been complaining. The Auditor General is what we call in Anguilla the Chief Auditor. Under section 79 of the Anguilla Constitution, his duty is to report annually on the accounts of the House of Assembly and all government departments and offices. He is appointed by the Governor and is independent of government. He is meant to be a check on any mis-spending by any government department.

If you go to the Cayman Islands Government’s website, you will find that they publish the Auditor General’s reports. The Audit Reports for the years 1995 to 2002 are available in full, and for free, on the government website. Additionally, most of his Special Reports are published and available for anyone to download on the government website. The website lists those Special Reports that are not available to the public, so you know exactly what is missing.

The controversy arises from the very latest Special Report by Dan Duguay, published in July 2008. He calls it, “The State of Financial Accountability Reporting”. In it, he is very critical of the delays in accounting by government departments. The last Audit Report he has been able to lay before the Assembly has been for the year 2002.

By contrast, I am reliably informed that the last available Audit Report for Anguilla is for the year 2005.

Dan Duguay describes the situation in Cayman Islands as a threat to the very foundation of good governance in the Cayman Islands. He warns that legislators are being constantly asked to provide new funding for various government entities without any significant accountability reports from them as to what they did with the funds allocated to them in previous years. Needless to say, the Financial Secretary, Kenneth Jefferson, has lashed out at the Auditor General. In Cayman Islands, the Financial Secretary is the equivalent of our Accountant General and Minister of Finance combined.

It would seem that as of April 2008 there was at least C$1.5 billion of operating expenditure that should have been accounted for that has not yet been reported to the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly. And, the Cayman dollar is worth more than the US dollar.

On Wednesday 6 August, the Cay Compass News Online published an editorial on the situation. They point out that this lack of reporting is a very bad way to do business. Any legitimate company practises proper accounting through audits to know what’s due, what is owed, and to ensure that money is not being misappropriated. They make the point that, obviously, we should expect nothing less from our government. It would seem that the Cayman Islands government has lost control of the public purse. The editorial concludes by expecting government to regain control, and to make sure that this fiasco is not repeated in the future. Just by comparison, and apropos of nothing, no Anguillian journalist has ever published a critical article or editorial on the state of Anguilla’s national accounts.

On the same day, the Governor, Stuart Jack, had his say. He declared that the time for excuses is over. He announced that the audited financial statements are important for the accountability of government and hence for good governance.

Now, the Public Accounts Committee of the Cayman Islands legislature has weighed in. On Thursday 7 August, the PAC issued a press release. They promise to start calling witnesses and hearing testimony by early September. They intend to call a wide array of senior public officers including the Chief Secretary. He is their equivalent of our Deputy Governor. They will call the Financial Secretary. They will also call other heads of department and chief financial officers. According to the press release, “while the Auditor General’s report paints a dismal picture, the PAC’s focus will be on solutions”.

Compare this situation to the one we have in Anguilla. Our audited government reports are more up to date than Cayman’s. But, we do not have a government website that publishes any useful government information, far less the annual Audit Reports or Special Reports of our Chief Auditor. We do not have a Public Accounts Committee that has ever, even once, in the history of Anguilla, met. Consequently, our PAC has never summoned witnesses before it to explain inconsistencies and questions raised by the report of the Chief Auditor. As a result, no one in Anguilla has the slightest idea what the true state of the national accounts is.

I am advised that you have to go to the Ministry of Finance and apply to get a copy of the Chief Auditor’s Reports to find out anything about the Anguilla government’s accounts. I have applied.

10 August, 2008

Carnival Riot

Stabbed to Death. I am too old for Carnival. So, I missed “Last Lap”. That was yesterday, Saturday. Seems like a good thing I did, too. One young man was stabbed to death. Orlando Johnson, a 21-year old Jamaican national and Anguillian gang member, died this morning from injuries received in an exchange of stabs.

Penny Legg has the most perceptive observations on the incident. You can read what she says for yourself at her blog. It is astonishing to read that we had to bring police officers over from St Martin to help quell the riot.

She wrote those words before we learned that the young man has since died.

His mother is said to have received stab wounds while putting him in a car to take him to the hospital. There is no word on her condition at this time. God knows how many others received injuries in the riot.

As one Anguillian said, things will not improve until we give the children what they need: love, attention, and encouragement. Our failure as a society over the past twenty years to bring up our children with values and standards is a national tragedy that is only now beginning to bear its evil fruit.

When the news of this killing hits the tourist circulars, what is the betting that tourism this coming season will take an even bigger hit than we were expecting? What a mess we are in.

07 August, 2008

Internet down

My Internet Goes Down and all Hell Breaks Loose. I am back on line now. No internet service between Sunday and Wednesday. And, what happens? All hell breaks loose over the internet. I start getting dozens of emails that I am unable to access or to read. I just read them today. They tell the same story.

It is all about the gunfight at the OK Coral of Island Harbour. At least, in the original gunfight, both sides were equally armed. There, the best men won. It was different in Island Harbour. Tyrone went there with no gun or weapon of any kind. All he wanted was to be paid some of the money he was owed. He had been a faithful employee. He has a wife and small child to support. And, he was not getting paid for the time he had worked. He took his wife and small baby with him. No doubt, the idea was to have their presence help to stir up some sympathy. And, how was his simple request to be paid his wages met? “Get the f*** out of my yard!” And, with that, a gun is pulled from the waist band. A shot is fired. Tyrone and his family scatter. They are terrified. They run to their car. Tyrone’s brother and sister are police officers. He knows what to do. That same Friday evening he reports the incident to the Police Station. That was the proper and correct thing for him to do.

And, how do the police respond to the report? Do they jump in one of their several vehicles and storm out to the well known house in Island Harbour? Isn’t that what they would do if the same report was made about you or me? No, my information is that they waited until Tuesday to make the arrest. They had to investigate? If it was you or me, would they wait four days before they made an arrest? Do they investigate for four days before they make an arrest every time there is a report of a gun being pulled and fired by a known suspect?

Well, at least the accused had not in the meantime disposed of the gun. You would think he would have done so. He had plenty time. He obviously did not think of it. Or, he thought he was above the law.

That was not all. Not only did the police find the gun. My information is that it was an unlicensed gun he was carrying. Presumably, the ammunition was unlicensed too. That is a separate offence. So, not only does he pull a gun on an unarmed man. He fires the gun. Not just at a grown man. He fires it in the presence of a young wife and child.

And, what is someone like him doing with an unlicensed gun anyway? What sort of example is this for our young men? Has he been showing off the gun? Are the young men of Island Harbour carrying guns just trying to copy his example, their hero?

The sad part is that now that the police have had a chance to talk to Tyrone, he may have lost his will to help with the prosecution. I am not saying there is a connection. It is just strange that, at first, he runs to the police to report a crime. Now, he is said to be no longer interested in assisting the police with their inquiries. He has had second thoughts about prosecuting. He is now saying that all he wants is his money! Is it that he was terrified at first, but now he is more terrified?

Not that there is much chance that his employer will pay him. Tyrone is only one of several creditors who are unpaid by this same individual. He is under financial pressure. That may partly explain why he behaved the way he did. He may be stressed out. But, lack of funds does not mean that Tyrone cannot get paid. There are too many family members depending on this gravy train. No way they are going to allow blind justice to take its course. I am certain that the money can be found.

I hope someone warns Tyrone that this is not his case. It does not belong to him. He has no say in whether or not to prosecute. It is not just he who was a witness. There were others present. That is all he is, a witness for the prosecution. He cannot legally tell the police to drop the case. This is a case that belongs to the public, the people, the state. If he refuses to testify as to what he knows about the commission of a serious offence, he must come in the witness box and say so, and let the judge deal with him. If he is thinking of accepting money not to testify, you must warn him. He would be committing the misdemeanour of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

He could be the only one ending up going to jail.