Foreign Affairs Committee: Press Notice

10 July 2008

ANNOUNCEMENT OF COMMISSION OF INQUIRY IN TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS

Responding to the announcement by the Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands that he had appointed a Commission of Inquiry into allegations of corruption in the Territory, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mike Gapes MP, said:

"We are delighted that the Government has responded so quickly to our recommendation that there should be a Commission of Inquiry into serious allegations of corruption on the Turks and Caicos Islands. As part of our inquiry into the Overseas Territories, the following Members of the Committee visited the Turks and Caicos Islands in March 2008: Mr Paul Keetch MP, Mr Greg Pope MP, and Sir John Stanley MP. In the Committee's subsequent report, published on 6 July, the Committee concluded:

'We are very concerned by the serious allegations of corruption we have received from the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). They are already damaging TCI's reputation, and there are signs that they may soon begin to affect the Islands' tourism industry. There is also a great risk that they will damage the UK's own reputation for promoting good governance. Unlike the Cayman Islands, where the Governor has taken the initiative in investigations, the onus has been placed on local people to substantiate allegations in TCI. This approach is entirely inappropriate given the palpable climate of fear on TCI. In such an environment, people will be afraid to publicly come forward with evidence. We conclude that the UK Government must find a way to assure people that a formal process with safeguards is underway and therefore recommend that it announces a Commission of Inquiry, with full protection for witnesses. The change in Governor occurring in August presents an opportunity to restore trust and we recommend that the Commission of Inquiry should be announced before the new Governor takes up his post.' "

Further Information:

1. The Foreign Affairs Committee is responsible for scrutinising the "administration, expenditure and policy" of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its associated agencies.

2. The Committee published its Report into the Overseas Territories on Sunday 6 July. The full text of the Report can be found on the Committee's website, at www.parliament.uk/facom .

3. The membership of the Committee is as follows: Mike Gapes (Chairman), Labour, Rt Hon Sir Menzies Campbell, Liberal-Democrat, Mr Fabian Hamilton, Labour, Rt Hon David Heathcoat-Amory, Conservative, Mr John Horam, Conservative, Mr Eric Illsley, Labour, Mr Paul Keetch, Liberal Democrats, Andrew Mackinlay, Labour, Mr Malcolm Moss, Conservative, Sandra Osborne, Labour, Mr Greg Pope, Labour, Mr Ken Purchase, Labour, Rt Hon Sir John Stanley, Conservative, Ms Gisela Stuart, Labour.

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