Britain reverts to traditional diplomat as new Cayman Islands governor

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Martyn Roper, the new governor of the Cayman Islands

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) — Career diplomat Martyn Roper (53) has been appointed as the Cayman Islands’ next governor after the controversial removal of Anwar Choudhury. However, the formal open recruitment process for the post is reportedly still ongoing and Roper, who is expected to arrive in the islands later this month to take up office, will remain until this is completed.

The new UK representative was described as a highly experienced career diplomat with a successful track record in senior corporate leadership roles across the world, in a press release from the governor’s office. Born in Halifax, West Yorkshire, his last Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) post was in Beijing, China.

Roper’s arrival comes at a time when the relationship with the UK is under strain. In its submissions to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which is reviewing the relationship between the UK and the British Overseas Territories, the Cayman Islands government requested more input into the selection of governors.

“The role of the governor within the Cayman Islands has also not sufficiently evolved to match our democratic maturity and we are still too far removed from both the appointment process and from the FCO/governor relationship to establish whether or not domestic and external areas for which the FCO is responsible are being looked after comprehensively enough to support all of our government requirements and obligations,” the Cayman government stated.

Cayman officials have said they would like to move to the process followed to appoint the Australian state governor, where the Crown directly appoints the governor instead of the FCO, and should be subject to veto by the Cayman government.

The Cayman Islands government had no say in the selection of Roper but he appears to have considerable relevant experience. His earlier career includes postings to Algeria as the British ambassador, deputy head of mission in Brasilia and as first secretary economics and development with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, experience that is likely to be welcomed by the offshore industry.

He was also head of the Gibraltar Section at the FCO in London, when he had specific responsibility for policy concerning law and order, justice and good governance. Roper also spent time at the United Nations in the early part of the 1990s, where he was on the Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24), giving him some overseas territory experience. The career diplomat has also served in some challenging postings, including his job as vice consul in Kuwait at the time of the outbreak of the first Gulf War.

Roper will hold the post until the full recruitment process is completed but he may also be one of the candidates. Since the unexpected departure of Choudhury following undisclosed complaints last June, the post of governor has been held by the Deputy Governor Franz Manderson. But after it was announced that the inquiry into the allegations against Choudhury were complete and he would not be coming back, the FCO said that an interim governor would be appointed until the full recruitment process was completed.

Republished with permission of Cayman News Service

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