Outgoing Governor John Rankin
Outgoing Governor John Rankin said goodbye during a ceremony on Jan. 18. (File photo: RUSHTON SKINNER)

Was the United Kingdom aware of allegations linking then-Premier Andrew Fahie to crimes before it launched the Commission of Inquiry?

Did Governor John Rankin authorise the United States sting operation here that led to Mr. Fahie’s Miami arrest?

Did Mr. Rankin get the green light from London before he requested additional powers recently?

In an exit interview with Beacon Editor Freeman Rogers, Mr. Rankin fielded these questions and more as his tenure drew to a close this month. He left the territory on Jan.  18, and his successor, Daniel Pruce, is slated to be sworn in on Jan. 29.


The BVI Beacon: What were your three or four biggest successes during your time as governor?

Governor: It’s for other people to judge what my successes have been, but there are areas of work in the past three years which I think have been important and which I hope have helped the territory.

The first area is that I arrived in January 2021 from the Covid lockdown. I and my team played what I believe was an important role in getting the Covid vaccine supplies into the territory: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and paediatric supplies.

In total, the [United Kingdom’s] Covid support amounted to over $2 million. I think that helped save lives.

We had 10 different shipments of that material coming in. Before my time here, the UK had also supplied personal protective equipment and ventilators.

Rankin gets a Covid shot
Mr. Rankin gets a Covid-19 vaccine during the pandemic. (File photo: GIS)

The second area would be on the environmental side. We funded no less than 31 environmental projects at a cost of some $5 million.

To give you a couple of examples, the work we’ve been doing on tackling stony coral tissue loss disease; trying to protect the coral, which is vital, both from the environmental perspective and for the tourism industry.

We’re doing that both locally and regionally in the Caribbean to try to tackle that loss.


The BVI Beacon: Is that one of the Darwin-Plus-funded projects?

Governor: It’s Darwin Plus. We’re also doing one in relation to tackling the sargassum problem. This is experimental. It’s actually using a type of worm, which will digest the sargassum and reduce its environmental impact within the territory.

Those sorts of projects don’t get a huge amount of publicity, but I think it is really important to where the territory is going in the future.

The way that Darwin Plus funds have built up over the past few years has been helpful.

Then the third areas are the work on security issues and the work on governance issues, which have been significant issues throughout my time here.

Under the Constitution, I have specific responsibility for policing. There are a number of areas where I work closely with the police commissioner to try to make the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force more effective in dealing with security issues.

First of all, we provided some two million pounds’ worth of funding for the police in terms of training; supply of equipment, including body-worn cameras; and refitting the police stations in both Road Town and in Virgin Gorda.

The second thing we’ve done is get the marine police back and running effectively.

When I came here, none of the police boats were actually working. We didn’t have a police presence on the water helping deal with illegal-migrant issues and drugs challenges.

We’ve now got nine boats operational. Five of them repaired, back in the water. Then we paid for four new RIBS: fast boats on the water. We’ve got the Marine Unit back up and running.


Customs boat
Mr. Ranking helps unveil a new Customs boat in March 2021. (File photo: ZARRIN TASNIM AHMED)


We’ve had in the past two years record drug captures and gun captures in the territory.

I’m not complacent in this area, because everybody’s concerned about crime in the territory. The [July armed robbery] at the pier park caused huge concern. We had six murders last year, and any murder is one murder too many.

I’ve always said that security is my top priority, and I recognise the concerns that people have in this area. So we’ve got to keep on working at it.

That’s one reason why we are carrying out, pursuant to the Commission of Inquiry, a wider law enforcement review.

This law enforcement review is looking at police customs, immigration, prisons; then looking at the courts, the Attorney General’s Chambers and the DPP’s offices.

That’s being carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services. They have real experts in this area. They’ve had two visits. The last visit had some 20 members of the team come in with expertise in different areas. They’re going to be coming forward with their recommendations by the end of March.

I hope that review and these recommendations are going to be an investment for the long term. Because that Commission of Inquiry work isn’t just about quick fixes.

It’s also trying to provide institutional change moving forward. That work on security: I’ve worked on that issue more than any other, and quite rightly.

The prison as well. I share responsibility for the prison with the health ministry. We funded positions there. We funded the deputy superintendent position for over a year. We’ve seconded UK prison officers.

Governor John Rankin
Mr. Rankin reviews police officers during a Remembrance Day ceremony last November. (File photo: GIS)
The BVI Beacon: Why did you fund the deputy superintendent position? Normally, would we have had a deputy superintendent funded by the VI government, or is that an additional position?

Governor: Actually, the position’s vacant at the moment and they’re advertising for a new deputy superintendent. But there was nobody in place, and to support the then-superintendent we brought in the deputy to assist the then-superintendent.

We seconded some other UK prison officers. We provided security equipment.

We also provided uniforms and things like new fire-resistant mattresses for the prisoners to try and improve their safety. The prison remains a challenge, but we’re trying to train and increase the capacity and support the new prison superintendent.


The BVI Beacon: [Your office has reported that police seized more than 1.6 tons of cocaine through November of last year, not including 1.5 tons seized in a joint operation near Anguilla.] I think that’s a record. Do you have a sense of why [the numbers are so high]? More active work by the police here, or the rise in global cocaine [trafficking]?

Governor: A bit of both. As we know, we are a transshipment route for cocaine.

Some people say that it’s a victimless crime. It’s not. First of all, drugs misuse is so debilitating to those who are drugs misusers.

But also the young people get caught up in the business, what they think may be some easy money to be made. They’re the ones who get caught and end up in prison. Their futures are ruined as a consequence.

So the drugs trade has a corrosive effect on society. In terms of the captures, I think that we’ve increased police effectiveness in this area. A lot of the captures have been on the marine side, where police have had success because of the increased capacity there.

Secondly, I think that there is increasing cooperation with the community in supporting the police. Trust in the police has increased, and the community is assisting the police.

Thirdly, of course, this is a trade affecting all over the world. As the volume increases, so the work of the police becomes ever more important.

The BVI Beacon: Is the police Marine Unit now actively operational 24/7? I believe that was a goal that has been stated in the past.

Governor: It has the capacity to deploy at any point, 24 hours. It’s not actively on the water at every moment, but it has the capacity to deploy at night, as well as during the day.

The Marine Unit had that big capture actually in Anguillan waters [in July 2023]. That shows they’ve now got the capacity not just to deploy in inland waters, but to get out there in the distance in what was a joint operation together with the US and the Anguillan authorities.


The BVI Beacon:  Going back to the prison, there are a lot of inmates spending years on remand. You’ve talked about it. Your predecessor Boyd McCleary talked about it in 2014. He suggested GPS monitoring. What’s the hold-up? Is that still on the horizon?

Governor: It’s absolutely correct that there are too many people in the prison on remand awaiting trial. I am pressing for two ways of tackling this issue.

The first is to work with courts on more effective case management, bringing together judiciary, prosecution and defence lawyers to try and route cases through the court system more quickly.

When Minister Mike Freer was here in the autumn — he’s a minister in the UK Ministry of Justice — he specifically offered assistance for training through the Judicial College for England and Wales to help further develop case-management work.

Mr. Rankin tours the prison last November along with Mike Freer (third from right), then the United Kingdom parliamentary undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Justice, and Health and Social Development Minister Vincent Wheatley (File photo: GIS)

The second area is indeed electronic tagging. There was experimentation done back in the time of Governor McCleary, and for reasons which are not clear to me, [it was] never taken forward. I’ve revived work in that area. Indeed, I had a meeting just this morning of what I call the Criminal Justice Advisory Group where we looked at this issue.

Cayman does electronic tagging. I believe the US Virgin Islands do electronic tagging as well. You don’t use it for the most violent prisoners who may be a risk. But for those who are not a wider risk to the community, it’s better to have them outside with an electronic tag than having them incarcerated.

We’re working with different types of tags. We’re working with the costs involved, and we’re going to have to amend the law. But it is a matter which I’ve revived and which is under active pursuit at the moment.


The BVI Beacon: What would be your advice to your successor when he arrives?

Governor: My successor is an able and experienced individual who I’m confident will take stock when he arrives here and do the job in his own way.

But under the Constitution, the governor has clear responsibilities for security and policing, for external relations outside the region, and more widely for good governance. I would, as I’m sure he will, encourage my successor to devote himself to all three of those priority areas.

The other thing I would advise any governor to do is also to get to know the wider community.

I’ve particularly enjoyed working with two sets of people. One is young people. Their enthusiasm and interest is infectious. I’ve always enjoyed visiting the college, visiting schools. We’ve carried out a number of initiatives there.

We did a governor-for-the-day initiative a couple of years ago on climate change issues and got those students to write their ideas for tackling climate change in the territory. They were great. I learned from them. We’ve also just recently done some funding of youth projects in the territory.

The other area which I would encourage anyone to get involved in is the voluntary organisations in the territory. There are some really good organisations and good people doing good things.


The BVI Beacon: Have you met with your successor [Daniel Pruce] yet?

Governor: Yes. I’ve known him for some time as a colleague in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. I’ve obviously been speaking to him about the job.


The BVI Beacon: Are you meeting with him regularly at this stage? How does the transition work?

Governor: The transition is that my team is preparing for his arrival.


The BVI Beacon: But you’re speaking to him —

Governor: I’m speaking to him off and on. But as of Thursday, I am no longer the governor. The new governor comes in and takes over, and the new governor will do it his way. Similarly, I spoke to Governor Jaspert before I came here. Governor Jaspert offered me helpful, encouraging advice, but didn’t try to tell me how to do the job. No more would I try to tell my successor how to do the job.


The BVI Beacon: People in the VI see a lot of what you do here. They see your interactions with the VI government. What they see less [frequently] is your day-to-day interactions with London. I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about that. For example, who’s your direct supervisor, if we can say that you have one?

Governor: First of all, I am the governor of the BVI. Therefore, an important part of my job is to bat for the BVI, and to encourage London to be as supportive as possible to the BVI.

So the funding we’ve got for policing — and the Darwin Fund projects, the Covid projects — are because I and my team have gone to London to identify the need to bid in for funding and to get that funding here.

Even on things like financial services and on other aspects of the health sector or the arrangements for BVI students being able to study in the UK, for example, my job is to press BVI’s case in London.

In that respect, it’s not London telling me what to do: It’s me pushing and telling London what to do.

In other areas, of course, I’m in consultation with London. I discuss with London London’s perspective on the BVI.

The obvious example of that is in relation to the Commission of Inquiry work.

Obviously, after the Commission of Inquiry report came out — and before that, following the arrest of Premier Fahie — then of course I was in touch with London to discuss what was happening here.


The BVI Beacon:  Who are you typically talking to when you’re in talks with the UK government? The overseas territories minister? The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office?

Governor: Both. I would discuss issues with the UK minister for the overseas territories, and then there’s a director of overseas territories; a directorate in the Foreign Office.

The BVI Beacon: Governors, including yourself, often speak a lot about the importance of transparency in the government here. You yourself have pushed hard for transparency, including, just as one example of many, insisting that the Register of Interests be open to the public. However, it is also true that the communication between yourself and the UK is almost completely secret. People don’t learn about it while it’s ongoing — or really have a way to learn about it in the future. Do you regard the UK’s current system of OT governance as sufficiently transparent at this stage?

Governor: At the Joint Ministerial Council in London in November, there was a joint declaration on a modern partnership between the UK and its overseas territories. The aim of that is to put that relationship on a modernised basis and a more forward-looking basis in terms of the relationship between the two. It should be a two-way relationship. I welcome that.

The BVI Beacon: Is that going to include some aspect of additional transparency? Is that what you’re suggesting?

Governor: Yes, I would like to see as much transparency as possible in the relationship. Inevitably, some issues are private. For example, here in the BVI the proceedings of Cabinet — which I’m involved in almost every week — are confidential. It’s necessary for Cabinet decision-making. Similarly with the National Security Council.

Some of my discussions with London will remain confidential as well. But I’m happy to talk about many of those aspects.

I am aware that there’s been a suggestion that the position I’ve taken on the Commission of Inquiry is somehow contrary to the Joint Declaration and the modern partnership. I don’t believe it is.

Because in the declaration, the BVI government committed to, quote, “the highest standards of governance, including the areas of human rights, rule of law, integrity in public life, and financial management.” That is a large part of what the COI reforms are about. Therefore, my wish to drive forward work in that area is, in my view, consistent with and in support of the Joint Declaration that was agreed.

Mr. Rankin delivers the 2022 Speech from the Throne. (File photo: JOEY WALDINGER)


The BVI Beacon: As a more specific example of what we were just talking about [regarding transparency in governors’ communications with London], you did say on Jan. 5 that you were requesting additional powers from the UK government. That was somewhat of an explosive statement. You would have known that it would have made international headlines. You probably would have suspected that the elected VI government would repeat allegations that the UK is abusing its powers and perpetuating colonialism. You phrased the announcement in a manner that suggested it was your decision alone to request these additional powers. That’s accurate, correct?

Governor: Yes.

The BVI Beacon: I think a lot of people here would be sceptical that such an explosive statement would be made without a green light of some sort from the UK — whether it’s a formal green light or an informal green light. Can you say if you got the green light from the UK or senior UK officials to make that statement? If so, when, and from who? And what form did those discussions take?

Governor: In respect of what you said, by way of introduction, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to people. My third quarterly review [on the progress of the COI reforms] in June 2023 said I will continue to consider whether there’s anything more that I need to do to support and/or accelerate the reform programme, including exploring additional resources or seeking a grant of additional powers. Said it in June.

In September, I said I do not believe there’s an immediate need for additional powers based on the plans and commitments that the government has made. However, if we do not see significant progress in the coming months, additional action may be necessary.

I flagged both of those things very clearly, and I’m sorry if some people weren’t listening. But my position to request additional powers given the substantial lack of progress between September and December should not have come as much of a surprise as some people claimed it to be. It was very clearly flagged that this could be a possibility.

As regards the request for additional powers, that was my decision. I have discussions with colleagues here on this issue. I have discussions with colleagues in London. But it was my call and my decision.


The BVI Beacon: Who were the most senior colleagues you discussed it with?

Governor: I’m not going to go into detail on precisely with whom I discussed it. But I did say in the press conference the other day that this wasn’t a position agreed with a ministerial level. This isn’t a position which I agreed with anyone in London. This is now the minister being seized of the decision which I’ve made.

Just to explain a little bit, I and my fellow governors guard our positions as governors quite seriously. So ambassadors and high commissioners are under instruction from London, and they’re representing the UK. The governor’s position is a bit different, because I’m part of the government here.

When I was British high commissioner in Sri Lanka, I was simply representing UK interests to Sri Lanka.

Here, my job is, as part of the BVI government, to represent petitions from the BVI back to the UK, and for me to make requests or recommendations. Governors do have a greater independence of action in that respect.


The BVI Beacon: It’s a very unusual position, isn’t it?

Governor: It is.


The BVI Beacon: Are there ways you think it can be improved?

Governor: All of the constitutions of the overseas territories have differences between them. The report of the Constitutional Review Commission still has to be published. But I think in considering any future constitutional changes, it’s worth looking at the practice and procedures and the way the constitutions work in other territories to try to learn best practice from them. Obviously, I came from Bermuda, which has differences from the BVI. I hope that experience from Bermuda has been helpful in my work here. I’m also aware of the way it works in Cayman and the Turks and Caicos. I think we can learn from each other.


The BVI Beacon: You and other UK officials have painted the Commission of Inquiry as completely separate from and unrelated to the investigation of Mr. Fahie. Correct?

Governor: Correct.


Rankin at COI
Mr. Rankin appears before the Commission of Inquiry in November 2021. (File screenshot: COI)
The BVI Beacon: I probably don’t have to tell you that a lot of people are sceptical of that claim in the BVI, especially given that Mr. Jaspert said that he decided to launch the COI in January 2021 in part because of allegations linking some of the “highest holders of office” in the VI to cocaine trafficking and other organised crime. Was the UK aware of allegations linking Mr. Fahie to criminal activity before the COI was announced?

Governor: Well, everybody was aware there had been some previous allegations, because however many years ago there was an investigation into alleged activities by the former premier and his wife.

The BVI Beacon: I mean outside of the 2003 allegations that were made public. Again, was the UK aware of any [more recent] allegations — after the 2003 allegations — linking Mr. Fahie to criminal activity before the COI was announced?

Governor: I’m not going to comment on individual police investigations in any area.


The BVI Beacon:  Would you know if he was? You were a new governor. Is it possible that you wouldn’t have been briefed on that?

Governor: The short answer is police operational issues are operational matters for the police, not for the governor.


The BVI Beacon: The US complaint against Mr. Fahie states that there was US law enforcement presence here in the BVI as far back as October 2021, which was six months before his arrest. Were you aware of that presence?

Governor: I authorise investigations by any foreign law enforcement agency in the territory.


The BVI Beacon: Is that a yes? So you were aware that the —

Governor: I authorise any foreign police operations within the territory.


The BVI Beacon: So you would have had to authorise this one?

Governor: I repeat that I authorise any foreign jurisdiction’s policing operations within the territory.


The BVI Beacon: Another thing I wanted to put to you [concerns] the way that you’ve phrased your lack of [prior] knowledge of Mr. Fahie’s arrest in the US. Your office told us this: “As the governor has previously made clear, he had no prior knowledge of the operation to arrest former Premier Fahie on serious charges of drug trafficking and money laundering. It was a US operation on US soil.” That response, however, appears to refer only to the US operation in which they actually arrested him. It does not appear to refer to the operation here in the VI. Some people have suggested that such responses were a bit misleading and designed to give the impression that you had no knowledge of the operation here the VI when, in fact, you did have knowledge of the operation here in the VI.

Governor: I think it would be incorrect to draw any such implication.

The BVI Beacon: You must have had knowledge of the operation here in the VI if you authorise US operations.

Governor: With respect, I think the issue is a bit different from what you say. To illustrate, I might authorise a foreign jurisdiction to carry out an investigation into people-smuggling in the territory. That doesn’t mean I am authorising or have knowledge of precisely which individuals are being investigated in that respect.


The BVI Beacon: Are you willing to say whether or not you knew that Mr. Fahie was suspected or under investigation?

Governor: I stand entirely by the statements I’ve made: I was as surprised as anyone else that morning when I was informed that Premier Fahie was arrested. People think there’s a contradiction here, and there isn’t. It’s to do with the nature of what is authorised.


The BVI Beacon: But are you willing to say whether or not you knew that Premier Fahie was under investigation?

Governor: You’re asking an unfair question here. I’ve told you what I do as governor. But I was as surprised as anybody else when I was told that morning that Premier Fahie had been arrested. I had no prior knowledge that was going to happen.


The BVI Beacon: I want to get back to the Commission of Inquiry. The COI report found many examples of poor governance. Were you at all surprised by those findings?

Governor: I, of course, had watched the proceedings. The proceedings are there for anyone to see on YouTube. As evidence came out, and as people were answering questions and evidence was produced, I think people from the territory could begin to see for themselves what was happening.

So the conclusions of poor governance, lack of accountability, misuse of public funds, failure of members of the House of Assembly to register their interests, lack of open tendering for two-thirds of all government contracts, what was happening with assistance grants: All was there for people to see as the report was going out.

So no. Most of those conclusions and recommendations, I think, were pretty self-evident from the very clear evidence which came before the commission.


The BVI Beacon: Most of the [governance issues you just listed] were known before the Commission of Inquiry. The Commission of Inquiry got into them in more detail, but they [were previously exposed in] auditor general reports; they were reported in the media. Successive governors would have known about them for the past 20 years. Why was the COI needed suddenly at this time when all [the governance issues] had been going on for that long? Why was it launched when it was launched?

Governor: My predecessor was concerned that the level of poor governance had come to such an extent that it was now necessary to have an independent inquiry into the matter and make clear recommendations. I think he was absolutely right in doing so. Any jurisdiction will have challenges when the level of challenge in governance has reached such a level. It was necessary.


The BVI Beacon: A lot of the blame has been put on the government here. But given that the UK was here the whole time through various governors, and that various audit reports [identified governance issues], to what extent does the UK need to shoulder some of this responsibility as well?

Governor: Well, the problem is that under the current system, the powers of the governor in this area are limited.

The governor has the responsibility for security; the governor has responsibility for external relations. But the governor doesn’t have responsibility for procurement.

The governor doesn’t have responsibility for the registration of interests. The governor doesn’t have responsibility for the way assistance grants are used.

So what we’re trying to do — what I’m trying to do — through helping the government to implement the recommendations to which they’ve committed, is to tackle those poor-governance issues and to make sure that public funds are used to the benefit of the public.

The Commission of Inquiry recommendations can go a long way to addressing those concerns which were revealed in the Commission of Inquiry report.

What the governor can do, and what I’ve been determined to do, is to continue to support the independent checks and balances within the systems.

It’s absolutely essential that the courts remain independent from political influence; that the auditor general, the director of public prosecutions, and the other independent institutions remain fully independent. That’s been a key part of my work, which I’ve been determined to fulfill. That’s part of my constitutional responsibilities as well.


The BVI Beacon: I want to talk about the National Unity Government, starting with the swearing-in. That was quite a ceremony. It was held here at Government House. Relatives were invited, media were invited, and so on. Whose idea was it to have that elaborate ceremony?

Governor: The arrangements for that swearing-in ceremony would have been agreed between my office and the protocol team within the government here. But I think I was very busy with other aspects of the coming into being of the Government of National Unity. I was not as personally involved in the elaborate ceremony.

But of course there was a lot of a spotlight on BVI at that point because of the arrest of Premier Fahie and because of the Commission of Inquiry report.


Mr. Rankin shakes Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley’s hand during the swearing-in ceremony for the National Unity Government in May 2022. (File photo: FREEMAN ROGERS)


The BVI Beacon: The reason I ask is because I think a lot of people saw that ceremony as a sign that the UK wasn’t planning to implement direct rule. Because why do this big ceremony swearing in a government and then two weeks later implement direct rule? How much of a role did you play in the decision not to implement direct rule?

Governor: That was a decision made by the UK government. The then-minister for the overseas territories, Minister Amanda Milling, came to the territory and had discussions with the premier and members of the Government of National Unity; heard their commitment; and on the basis of that commitment took the decision not to implement the order in council at that time.

I believe that was the right decision, and I was supportive of it. But the quid pro quo is that the recommendations have to be implemented.

The BVI Beacon: Is it possible to say whose idea the National Unity Government was? Was it the UK? The VI government?

Governor: It was agreed between the elected politicians in the territory.


The BVI Beacon: Have you added staff since the COI report to help with the reforms?

Governor: No. I have two staff who work with me on Commission of Inquiry implementation issues. I can sometimes do with more staff, but the answer is no.


The BVI Beacon: Are you confident that the COI reforms under your portfolio will be completed by the original May deadline or do you need until the recently extended November deadline?

Governor: My aim is that they should be completed by the end of March. When I realised we were facing challenges getting that done, I stepped in and took action, both in respect of the law enforcement review and the vetting review. I’m confident we’ll have those done before the end of May.


The BVI Beacon: You’ve now requested additional powers. Did you request specific additional powers?

Governor: No. I said I believe additional powers are required if we’re going to get the COI reforms implemented. I’ve given examples of the sorts of powers that might be considered. But I have not gone beyond that at this point.


The BVI Beacon: When do you expect to hear back on your request?

Governor: I’m aware, of course, that the premier said he will be writing to the UK minister for the overseas territories in that area.

I expect that the minister will consider carefully any representations which are made by the premier. I wouldn’t like to give you a timetable beyond that, but I think it’s important that we don’t let this issue sit for too long. We have to get clarity to move forward.


The BVI Beacon: The VI government’s hurricane recovery is still fairly far behind, in part because successive governments didn’t access the £300 million UK loan guarantee. Now the guarantee is off the table. Why did the UK take it off the table, and is there any chance that it can get put back on the table?

Governor: It came off the table because it was rejected by the government under Andrew Fahie. He claimed the terms and conditions attached to it were in some ways oppressive.

They were in fact the standard terms and conditions of a loan guarantee which the British government would provide to any territory. I think it’s regrettable that he rejected it.

The UK, of course, did provide funding for assistance after hurricanes Irma and Maria — not just immediate assistance from the UK military and the police that came in and helped, but we provided some £20 million for power and water repair and for housing repair.

Since then, we’ve also invested in projects through the Recovery and Development Agency. I’m pleased with a number of the projects which have taken place, including the development of the new marine base, which has some UK funding [and] BVI government funding.

But that loan guarantee is no longer there. What the BVI government is discussing with the UK government is whether there may be some relaxation in the Protocols for Effective Financial Management. Discussions in that area continue in relation to possible BVI government borrowing.


The BVI Beacon: What’s next for you personally when you leave?

Governor: I’m retiring. I will turn 67 in March. I’ve decided it’s time for me to move on to the next stage. But I’ve got plenty of things to do. I’m looking forward to spending time with my partner Tara. I’m looking forward to seeing more of my three children — two in London and one in Edinburgh — and my siblings. I’m looking forward to my middle daughter getting married in June.

I look forward hopefully to be able to do some volunteer work in the community. I’m traveling. I’ve traveled a great deal in my life, but that’s been for work. India, for example, is a magnificent country, but all I’ve really seen is a tiny bit of it in Delhi and the government quarters. That’s one country that I want to visit.


The BVI Beacon: Is there anything else that we haven’t talked about that we should talk about?

Governor: Just one other thing. I, of course, represent the sovereign here. So I was pleased to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. Then, of course, it was a solemn occasion to go with the premier to attend the funeral.

What struck me there was: Under the political arrangements, the overseas territories were given a prominent place at the funeral. That was the way that Her Majesty wanted it, because they are part of the overall realm. All of the premiers and governors were there, given a prominent place just behind the independent Commonwealth countries like Australia or New Zealand, for example. It was a very solemn occasion, but it was a fitting occasion for somebody whose life was service.  Then, of course, to attend the coronation, again with the premier: This says something about shared values which I find personally important.

The other thing I might like to say: I’ve had a challenging three years here — from Covid to the Commission of Inquiry and everything else — but what makes it worthwhile beyond the day-to-day work is A) the beauty of the place. As we all know, this is a stunningly beautiful territory. All I need to do is sit and look out at the water.

Then to go back to the people point: Whatever differences of view may have been had, I’ve enjoyed good personal relations with those I’ve worked with here. People are welcoming and fun and warm. That makes it worthwhile.


This interview was conducted, condensed and edited by Freeman Rogers.