Photo of the Remarkables mountain range in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Blencathra to apologise to House of Lords

| 14/07/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): The former director of the Cayman Island’s London office, Lord Blencathra, was found to have broken the rules by lobbying Parliament and MPs by the Commissioner for Standards in the UK’s House of Lords and has been ordered to apologise to the House for the inclusion in the first contract he signed with the Cayman Islands Government of a phrase that indicate that he was lobbying Parliament.

The House of Lords Rules prohibit members from accepting or agreeing to accept payment or other reward in return for providing parliamentary advice or services.

The Commissioner accepted Lord Blencathra’s assurances that while he had signed the £12,000 per month contract with the Cayman Islands government, he had no intention of carrying out any parliamentary lobbying on its behalf. However, Standards Commissioner Paul Kernaghan ruled today that by signing the contract Lord Blencathra broke the House of Lords Code of Conduct and ordered an apology.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism conducted a two-year investigation into the former Conservative party chief whip’s activities as director of the Cayman London Office, following complaints by Labour MP Paul Flynn.

Lord Blencathra’s apology is likely to take place on Thursday 17 July, after the report into his conduct is formally considered by the House of Lords, BIJ said.

In a press statement, the Tory peer noted that the phrase was removed when his contract was renewed in November 2012 but acknowledged that its presence was a breach of the rules.

Lord Blencathra’s statement to the House of Lords will say, “Although I never actually provided nor intended to provide parliamentary services to the Cayman Islands Government in return for payment, I acknowledge and deeply regret that I entered into a written contract under which I was apparently committed to provide such services (as one of 14 specified ‘consultancy services’).

“I now recognise and accept that such a contract was in clear breach of the requirement in paragraph 8(b) of the Code of Conduct that members ‘must not seek to profit from membership of the House by accepting or agreeing to accept payment or other incentive or reward in return for providing parliamentary advice or services’.

“I misled myself into thinking that, since it was understood that I would not be making representations in reality, then the wording did not matter. But words do matter; I was wrong and I apologise to the House for that misjudgement.

“When the contract was renewed in November 2012 the reference to providing such services was deleted and in March 2014 the contract ended. I deeply regret having breached the Code in this way and the embarrassment to the House that I recognise is caused by such conduct. I offer the House my sincere apology.”

In his letter of apology to the commissioner, Lord Blencathra blasted The Independent newspaper for its coverage of the enquiry and what he described as attacks on the Cayman Islands and its people.

Lord Blencathra wrote, “As you can see from the newspaper headline, this article was politically motivated and is as much an attack against the Cayman Islands, which The Independent clearly detests as well as an attack on me. The Prime Minister stated in the House of Commons last year that Cayman and other UK OTs were no longer ‘Tax Havens’. The Independent does not accept that reality. They have distorted the truth about Cayman referring to this UK Overseas Territory in derogatory and emotive language in an attempt to blacken their reputation and what I do.

Continuing in a general defence of the Cayman Islands, he went on, “When I wrote to you last time I described my role as a sort of mini ambassador. Many people, including some Members of Parliament and journalists dislike Cayman so much that they will seek to denigrate anyone who defends this UK Territory. This is not the place to make an issue of it but I find the hostile comments about Cayman and its people to be quite despicable. The vast majority have British nationality, have been totally loyal to the Crown for the last 300 years and they do not deserve to be denigrated as if they were criminals.

“The British overseas territories are not like some ruthless multinational companies seeking to put one over on the UK Government. They should not be kept at arm’s length and treated with suspicion. They are not pariah states like North Korea. They are part of the UK family and that is why the FCO works closely with the overseas territories and the London based representatives. We are treated as mini ambassadors and we act merely as conduits between the UK Government and territory governments in addition to all the other EU and international issues with which we deal. I do not claim that this role is completely unique but it is fairly.”

Two Lions Consultancy Ltd, a UK company of which Lord Blencathra is a principal, and the Cayman Islands Government, was terminated on Monday, 31 March 2014. Lord Blencathra’s services as director of Cayman’s London office, which began in November 2011 under the UDP government, ended at the same time.

Tags: , ,

Category: Finance, Financial Services

Please include your email address in the form below if you are using your real name. You can use a pseudonym, with or without leaving an email address, or just leave the form blank to be "Anonymous". All comments will be moderated before they are published. The CNS Comment Policy is at the top of this page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.