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TCI close to collapse prior to UK direct rule, says report

The institutions of the Turks & Caicos Islands were in “danger of collapse”, in part as a result of UK government failings prior to London imposing direct rule in 2009, according to a ‘national integrity report’ by the respected non- governmental organisation Transparency International (TI).

The report suggests that an “overall systemic weakness” created a considerable gap between law and practice, and criticises the lax oversight by both the London-appointed Governor and the Ministers and officials to whom he had to report.

“The Governor and the UK government (through the FCO), to whom he was constitutionally obligated to report and from whom he was constitutionally bound to receive and implement instructions to ensure good governance, appeared to be ineffective in providing sufficient oversight,” it states. “Equally, other watchdogs either failed to bark, failed to bite or both.”

“A number of credible observers and authoritative bodies allege that the FCO adopted too much of a ‘hands off’ approach to the TCI, allowing an unwarranted degree of independence to the Governor”, the report adds.

The report adds that “credible allegations” of serious breaches of the law by people holding high office appeared to attract “inept investigation and/or no prosecution” from the police and Attorney General’s Office. “No effective remedial action appeared to follow from either the Governor’s office nor the Secretary of State to whom he reported”, it says.