29 October, 2009


Six members of the Royal Anguilla Police Force arrested in the last five years.  As is so often the case, we must go outside of Anguilla to get the real news about happenings in the Anguilla administration.  Traditionally, the Anguilla public administration operates under the assumption that any bad news is better not published.  It may damage the tourism industry.  It will tend to throw a bad light on the island.  What the Anguillian people don’t know won’t hurt them.

Well, the news gets out anyway, but slanted and twisted one way or the other.  The story is then the subject of gossip and worry.  The facts are never certain.  Minor matters are blown up out of all proportion.  Rumour abounds instead of the truth.  Sunlight and fresh air still remain the best disinfectant.  If only we can get the authorities to recognise this fact.

So, we learn from London the above interesting piece of news.  It comes as an answer given in the UK Parliament on 26 October to a Parliamentary Question (PQ).  We don’t have PQ’s in Anguilla.  When a member of our House of Assembly gets up and asks a Minister for a report on a matter of national importance and great public interest, and the Minister promises an answer, the result can only be described as a demonstration of humiliating incompetence.  The classic example is the Hon Edison Baird’s question about the cost of the airport extension, and the Hon Victor Banks’ recent defective and incomplete answer to him.

Was this information about six arrested Anguillian police officers ever published in Anguilla?  No, of course not.  If it had been published, we would all want to know the embarrassing facts.  What were the names of the police officers who were arrested?  What were the offences with which they were charged?  Were they brought to trial?  What were the outcomes of the trials?

I think we can accurately predict the answers to the last two questions.  None are likely to have been brought to trial, and the trials therefore never took place.  They were all dealt with “administratively”, ie, the Governor and the Commissioner of Police ensured the matters were swept under the carpet, and the incidents concealed from the public.

And, no, I have no interest in asking the authorities for any information.  I am simply disgusted at this state of affairs.  I have no interest in the sordid details of the individual tragedies.

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  1. This just shows that the GOA and the Governor are complicit in hiding news. We really need transparency in Government now more than ever.
    Can we report this lack of transparency from our so called leaders to the European Parliament in the hope that they can force our government to fess up. We all want openness but how do we make our own government behave properly?
    Can we ask Chris Bryant to publish all the minutes of meetings of our government and the minutes of the Governors meetings with our GOA. I am assuming that a copy of all these meetings are sent to Chris Bryant.
    We should not be left in the dark regarding any decisions by our GOA or any disciplinary decisions by the RAPF. They work for us, They are not our masters.

  2. It dawns on me that what is needed is not yet another "transparency" law, which essentially costs the government more to both comply with -- and weasel themselves out of.

    What's really needed is strict control, or, more properly, complete decontol, of what's now called libel and slander, particularly for public figures, including most public employees. Freedom of the press in Anguilla is completely nonexistent. Too bad there's not a First Amendment, much less a Bill of Rights, in the proposed Anguilla constitution.

    Even amateurs like Don are sued to within an inch of their bank account's contents for even *intimating* that things, in general, may not, quite possibly, be on the up-and-up.

    If someone could have released that information to a working press corps, freed from the shackles of British libel law, the information would have been public within *hours* of each occurrence listed above.

    And there would have been hell to pay at the ballot box.

  3. Is there some law on the books in Anguilla that precludes freedom of the press. I was told once that all "news" in Anguilla had to be pre-approved by the government. Is this really true?


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