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Grenada PM speaks out on knighthood controversy
Published on October 10, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

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Baroness Patricia Scotland with Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell (centre) and Anthony Bailey in 2014

By Caribbean News Now contributor

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada -- Following allegations that British public relations consultant Anthony Bailey used promises of donations and unofficial honours to obtain an unlawful knighthood in Grenada, the prime minister of Grenada has spoken out on the matter.

In doing so, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell flatly rejected earlier denials by Commonwealth secretary general, Baroness Patricia Scotland, that she had any hand in helping her “dear friend” Bailey secure his knighthood, which has since been revoked.

Dominica-born Scotland has always insisted she did not arrange for Bailey to meet Mitchell, following which Bailey was awarded the honour in return for charitable donations.

But speaking for the first time about the affair, Mitchell insisted it was former UK attorney general Scotland who introduced them – and claimed the baroness was present at the meeting when honours were discussed.

“Bailey came to this country through someone who stood at the highest level of British government, the former attorney general of Britain,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t know [Bailey] but he had an appointment in my office as I knew Patricia Scotland.”

In a statement to Britain’s The Mail on Sunday newspaper earlier this year, Baroness Scotland insisted that she “did not arrange the meeting”.

“They claimed they had this Constantinian Order, and they gave medals, all kinds of claims were made,” Mitchell said.

Again, this directly refutes Scotland’s earlier statement to the newspaper that she “did not have an operational role in the Order”, despite serving as the deputy head of the group’s British branch.

At the time, Bailey was touring the Caribbean, conferring honours upon dignitaries on behalf of his obscure Catholic order and receiving them in return.

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Anthony Bailey (L) and Governor General of Grenada, Dame Cécile La Grenade
Bailey and Scotland first met Mitchell in October 2014. A few months later Bailey and three friends were given knighthoods by the Grenadian government as part of a “reciprocal arrangement”.

These were later revoked following revelations by The Mail on Sunday that they may have violated the country’s laws.

Under the Grenadian Honours Act, only two people can receive knighthoods each year. However, Bailey managed to obtain four for himself and his allies in a day.

“The government I am leading did agree to [the knighthood], based on what we thought was in the country’s best interests,” Mitchell said. “The minute we found out there were some issues, it was cancelled. The knighthood has been revoked. He is no longer a knight. He was formally written to. He wanted more than that. He wanted us to make him ambassador to the Vatican. I said, ‘No way!’”

According to Mitchell, the meeting with Baroness Scotland formed part of her campaign to become Commonwealth secretary-general.

“Scotland did everything to be elected secretary-general,” Mitchell said. “She knew Grenada had agreed not to vote for her. When she finally won, after having been so nice to me before, she [discarded me].”

The Mail on Sunday revealed Scotland’s entanglement in the honours scandal in May. An investigation uncovered how Bailey had received a similar knighthood in Antigua and Barbuda after promising millions in donations to the island nation.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has indicated that the knighthood awarded to Bailey is under “review”. Two of Bailey’s friends who were knighted with him in Antigua have already had their honours revoked pending an investigation.

One of the other knighthood recipients at the time, Spas Roussev, later said that the process was “irregular and not as originally described”.

Browne said that all three knighthoods had been arranged prior to his Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) coming to power in June 2014.

“By the time we came to office, this was a fait accompli and we honoured the arrangements without any knowledge of the prior discussions,” he said.

Browne is understood to have referred the matter to the local Honours Committee but the governor general, Sir Rodney Williams, who chairs the committee, asked that the review be deferred and, several months later, little or no action has been taken.

Williams is said to have been the beneficiary of “wining and dining” in London and a paid trip to Rome in November last year to meet the pope at the expense of the Constantinian Order “delegation” and/or Bailey. Williams is married to Sandra Scotland-Williams, a cousin of Baroness Scotland.

To the dismay of the Foreign Office and the Royal Household, the Antigua honour was used by Bailey to masquerade as a knight in the UK from 2014 until earlier this year.

In August, the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George, based in Spain, disowned what it described as the purported exchanges of decorations between the Constantinian Order and certain Caribbean states.

The Order’s grand chancellor also disavowed any links with Bailey and Baroness Scotland.
 
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