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Bermuda FlagBritish union flag

Bermuda's relationship with Great Britain

The oldest and most affluent British Overseas Territory and with its own laws

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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us)

Queen Elizabeth II

As a British Overseas Territory (BOT), Her Majesty the Queen is Bermuda's official Head of State. Bermuda's Governor is her representative.

Flag of Bermuda;s Governor on behalf of Queen Elizabeth

Flag of Governor of Bermuda on behalf of Queen Elizabeth

See end of this file for all of our many History files


UK's Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The UK Government's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development (the latter added in late 2020) Office. Where all UK decisions about Bermuda are made.

Bermuda is an island country with its own distinct national identity, but is not a sovereign state.  (A sovereign state is one neither dependent on nor subjected in any way to any other power or state or country). It is the smallest in size but economically the most advanced, prosperous and populated per square mile as well as the oldest of all the fourteen British Overseas Territories (BOTs, see below).  However, as a British Overseas Territory it has a great deal of autonomy. Since 1612 when it was colonized by Britain it has enacted all its own laws, many but not all modeled on British-UK laws. It alone, not Britain, can decide on all non-Bermudians who can enter, reside and if eligible and law-abiding, can get local citizenship, referred to as Bermuda Status, after 10 continuous years of marriage to and living with a Bermudian. This means that even people born and bred in the United Kingdom of  Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Bermuda's mother-country based on the nationality of its first colonists, are not free to come and go as they wish, if and when they come here  do not have citizenship, generally cannot vote, need work permits like any other nationality if they are qualified to come to work and are never guaranteed continued employment even with work permits if Bermudians becomes qualified and are deemed able to take over their jobs. The Bermuda Government alone has the right to control the admission and expulsion of people from both Britain and anywhere else in the world. However, under British-UK law, so long as Bermuda remains a British Overseas Territory, Bermudians can, on application, obtain automatic British-UK citizenship and passports and can come and go as they please between Bermuda and the United Kingdom.

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The British-UK governorship of Bermuda 

The Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Bermuda (see governors, below) is appointed by The Queen (on the advice of the British Government in London) after consultation with the Premier of Bermuda. The UK's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office ( FCDO) at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-development-office administers Bermuda internationally but in all other matters Bermuda is a self-governing British Overseas Territory (BOT), 3,076 miles from London, one of the 14  BOTS worldwide.. UK Statutory Instruments apply to Bermuda as a BOT. The FCDO is represented in Bermuda by His Excellency the Governor and Deputy Governor, Government House, 11 Langton Hill, Pembroke HM 13. 11 Langton Hill, Pembroke HM 13. Telephone 441 292-3600 or 292-2587 fax  (441) 296-1930.

Until the latter part of the 20th century the Governorship of Bermuda was given to a senior British UK military officer on retirement, or a politician who had held senior office. The last of the latter type was David Waddington, Baroness Thatcher's last home secretary who as Lord Waddington was governor from 1992 until 1997. Since then the post has been held by career diplomats and often, when socio-economic conditions require it, comes with a knighthood for the holder. The Governor and Deputy Governor have direct access to security advice in Washington DC and London from senior British representatives.   One of the functions of the British Governor is to read the Throne Speech. In Britain, the Queen reads the speech and in British Commonwealth countries, Governors or Governors General do.

The Governor has his/her own Flag of Office, as shown above. It is a Union Jack but in its center it has the Bermuda arms on a white disc encircled by a green garland. Uniforms for the Governor are made in London by Davies & Sons. They include a full dress blue and tropical cotton drill. It is based on old British military Field Marshals, with a white pith helmet with dyed scarlet swan's feathers plumage and Mameluke sword by Wilkinson Sword. The price of about $10,000 is met by the British Government. The official car used by the Governor  features a crown instead of a license plate, with extra large width, length and horsepower by Bermuda standards and the Governor's Flag. 

The main challenge for a Bermuda Governor is to balance two sometimes contradictory functions. First, he/she is the primary source of information from Bermuda to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the state of affairs in Bermuda. Second, he/she is the voice of the United Kingdom and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for advising Bermudians what they can and cannot do under British/United Kingdom laws. The salaries of the Governor, Deputy Governor and their staff are paid by Bermuda's taxpayers, NOT the British Government. Bermuda, despite its tiny size, is wealthy enough not to need the support from the United Kingdom some other overseas territories get.  

2020 Governor Rene Lalgie2020. June 10. Bermuda’s first woman and first black governor (see photo, right) will take over the job later this year, the British Government has revealed. Rena Lalgie, the director of the UK’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation at the Treasury, will succeed John Rankin in December. The mother of two said she was “immensely proud” to become the first woman governor. 

She added: “I am conscious that this announcement is being made in challenging times, as Bermuda looks to the future. I will work in earnest with the elected government, through the exercise of my duties, to support and promote the island’s strengths and resilience. My family and I are looking forward to contributing fully to life in Bermuda as we get to know the people and culture.” 

Ms Lalgie has also worked in the British Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, including a stint as the deputy director for the information economy and cybersecurity.  She was also head of the counter-terrorism and security review at the Treasury from 2007 to 2008. 

Mr Rankin told The Royal Gazette: “I am delighted at Ms Lalgie’s appointment as my successor as governor. I know that she is looking forward to the job and I wish her every success in it.”  

Government House said that Mr Rankin will transfer to another appointment in the Diplomatic Service.

Bermuda's Government House (see photo below) where His Excellency the Governor lives, with family. 

Government House, Pembroke, Bermuda

Photos below show recent Governors

2020 Governor of Bermuda His Excellency John Rankin

Governor John Rankin, until  December 20.

2012 Governor of Bermuda George Fergusson

Governor from May 2012, George Fergusson, photographed in London before his departure to Bermuda

Former Governor Sir Richard and Lady Gozney

Governor 2007 to 2012. Sir Richard Gosney and Lady Gosney

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British Passport, Government of BermudaBermuda Police.  Government House has direct responsibility for the operational side of Policing with the Police Commissioner reporting directly to the Governor, while budgeting and manpower is Government’s responsibility. Paid for by Bermuda - not British - taxpayers and coming under Bermuda - not British - laws. Periodic visits are made by Britain's senior advisor for Dependent Territory Police Forces, or a former Chief Constable of  a UK Police Service. He makes periodic recommendations to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

As a dependent territory of Britain (see British Passport, Government of Bermuda, right), all dealings on behalf of Bermuda with Westminster in London are officially managed by Government House, where the Governor lives. All business between Bermuda and the governments of other countries are handled by Britain. The Bermuda Government controls, manages and overseas all aspects of Bermuda in Bermuda except for defence, foreign affairs and internal security which come under the remit of the British Governor.

Bermuda, only 21 square miles or 58 kilometers in total land area,  differs from other BOTs in two main ways. It is is the fourth oldest of all countries, islands and territories in the British Commonwealth of Nations after England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Canada. It has been completely self-governing (except for defence, external affairs and internal security, which are reserved British-UK powers) for centuries and is the smallest of all the fourteen BOTs (see below) yet has the most evolved British Parliament in the world after Westminster in London. The Government of Bermuda is independent of the United Kingdom in all internal matters and has its own set of laws in its only 21 square miles of total land area. It is not tied to any laws of the European Union (EU). Europe. Many Americans visiting Bermuda assume, wrongly, that British-UK laws apply. They do not. Bermuda laws do and in significant ways are much more restrictive to non-nationals than any British, USA, Canadian, Caribbean, Australian, New Zealand and other democratic country laws. Only in external affairs, some aspects of the judiciary, some areas of defence and some areas of the police is Bermuda subject to UK oversight. It has more tax powers in Bermuda than any of the devolved Scottish, Welch and Northern Irish parliaments and those of other, larger but less affluent BOTs. Only in external affairs and defence does the UK have a controlling interest.

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Bermuda Vital Statistics

Bermuda size & population 20.75 (Twenty point seven five) square miles in total. 63.908 residents in 2019. Women then outnumbered men by 2,398.
Resident population density per square mile 3,097 (Three thousand, zero nine seven). Third highest in the world
Government Code of Conduct for legislators None. There is a voluntary code, with no legislative teeth. It is ignored by some. No equivalent of the UK's Ethical Standards in Public Life Act.
Number in Cabinet 13. Same number as USA, equivalent in Bermuda to 0.63 (Point six three) per square mile. They have "The Honorable" before their name. 
Number of elected legislators in House of Assembly and their salaries 36. Equivalent to 1.93 (One point nine three) per square mile. They have "MP" for Member of Parliament after their name. If they are also Cabinet Ministers, they earn well in excess of $100,000 a year, plus unlimited expenses. 
Number of appointed politicians in Senate 11. Also salaried. Equivalent to 0.53 (Point five three) per square mile. They have "Senator" before their name. If they are also Cabinet Ministers, they earn this plus what is shown above under "Number of elected legislators." 
Number of registered voters per Member of Parliament 1,297. On date of last General Election. Contrast this with no fewer than 72,810 and no more than 80,433 per member of parliament in the UK in 2018 and approximately the same in the USA per congressperson and Canada.
Number of Government Boards About 122. All require the approval of the Premier who controls all Public Information. See Bermuda Government Boards separate website shown at the end of this file.
Number of Police About 465, over 20 per square mile. Plus, there are Reserve officers. Bermuda has more police per square mile and per population than anywhere else in the world
Number in Bermuda Regiment and its Coastguard 600 members, mostly Bermudian men, also some women, mostly part time, all now volunteers. Conscription of Bermuda-born males ended a few years ago. 
Registered voters who can participate in a General Election About 46,750. Total number of registered voters in the last General Election, about 60% of the entire resident population. Varies from year to year.
The Bermuda Society  

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How Bermuda compares with other British Overseas Territories

Alphabetically, with size in square kilometers and population:

Anguilla 96 10,000
Ascension Island 88 1,099
Bermuda 53.3 (20.75 square miles) 62,400
British Antarctica (South Sheffield Islands, South Orkneys and Graham's Land) 1.7 0 (3 survey stations operated by 50 to 150 people)
British Indian Ocean Territory (Diego Garcia) 54,000 2,000 American and British military personnel and 1,000 civilians.
British Virgin Islands 153 16,100
Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac) 259 32,000
Falkland Islands (including South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands) 12,173 2,121
Gibraltar 6.5 32,000
Montserrat 102 11,000
Pitcairn Islands (including Henderson, Ducie and Oeno) 35.5 54
St. Helena 122 5.664
Tristan da Cunha 38 295
Turks & Caicos 500 12,350

About 66% of the resident population of Bermuda are black.  About 33% are white or other races.

What Bermuda is with the UK is a British Overseas Territory (formerly colonial) relationship which costs the Bermuda taxpayers $2 million a year. It is for the upkeep of Government House and its 30-plus pristine acres and for the Governor and Deputy Governor's (both from Britain) salary and their cars, their security, their travel, their housekeepers, their domestic staff and their accommodation. But in other ways, Bermuda benefits hugely from this, in ways far more strategically important as well as financial.

British officials in Britain and the USA are helpful in Bermuda's affairs. British Information Services in New York answers questions about Britain and provides up to date Government comment on current events involving Britain. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office, at King Charles Street, London SW1 A2AH, England, telephone (011) 44-207-2701500 or fax 44-207-2702148 is the British Government department responsible for Bermuda's overseas relations and foreign affairs. 

 For those who want to work in Bermuda, Work Permits apply just as much to Britons, Canadians, Europeans and Americans as to Philippine nationals or Mongolians.  Britons who are not also Bermudians have none of the rights that Bermudians in the UK now have if they apply for UK passports. It was the UK Government that approved that Bermudians could have, on application, a UK passport and be treated as full UK nationals in every other way, but that Britons in Bermuda who are not also Bermudian would not have reciprocal rights.

Bermuda Financial Instructions.  The set of rules, agreed by the UK and Bermuda Governments, that govern financial procedures under which the Bermuda Government, as a British Overseas Territory, operates. 

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Bermuda Candidates for Queen's Honours Recipients

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Bermuda laws

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Bermuda and the UK, timeline

2020. March 31. The Governor said last night that an “air bridge” flight to bring Bermudians home from Britain to Bermuda is scheduled for take-off. John Rankin explained the flight was expected to take off early next week to give stranded Bermudians a chance to return to the island. Mr Rankin said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had “recognised the importance of helping Bermudian students and others in the UK who want to get back home”. He added said the aircraft would also be “loaded with cargo for Bermuda — including, I hope, pharmaceuticals”. The British Airways charter flight was approved yesterday by Baroness Sugg, the Minister for the Overseas Territories. The plane will also fly Caymanians home after the Bermuda stop. Passengers will need to pay for their flights and the cost and payment methods will be announced later. Any shortfall will be covered by the British government. Mr Rankin said the returned Bermudians would not be allowed to self-quarantine, but would have to stay in a Government-approved quarantine centre. David Burt, the Premier, said there was enough space at the island’s quarantine sites to accommodate the passengers, Mr Burt added the Government had a moral responsibility to bring people home. He said he had been received messages from Bermudians stuck in other countries by travel restrictions imposed for the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Burt added: “There are Bermudians overseas that are running out of food and I am not going to leave them overseas to fend for themselves. We will bring them home.”

2020. March 14. Daily Telegraph, London. British Airways, which exclusively serves Bermuda from the UK once daily, in a fight for survival, is in talks with unions about job cuts as Norwegian faces an anxious wait for a bailout and Lufthansa requests state help. British Airways warned the coronavirus pandemic has caused a crisis "of global proportions like no other we have known" as governments prepared to start bailing out cash-strapped airlines. Norwegian, Gatwick’s third-biggest airline, pleaded for an “immediate” handout after warning it was “within weeks” of collapse. Europe’s biggest airline Lufthansa confirmed it will seek “liquidity” as the EU relaxed state aid rules on Friday afternoon. It plans to ground two thirds of its 800 planes and axe 66 daily flights to the USA.

2020. March 14. Daily Telegraph, London. UK travellers and all others with UK or British Overseas Territory (BOT) passports including Bermudians will need to join the same queue as other non-EU citizens, submitting to a physical passport inspection and will need to have their passports stamped each time they enter the EU after the Brexit transition period expires. British negotiators had requested that UK nationals should be allowed to use "EU citizens" lanes after January 1 next year but were told that was not possible, according to two sources with knowledge of the negotiations. As a result, UK and BOT travellers will need to join the same queue as other non-EU citizens, submitting to a physical passport inspection and receiving a passport stamp. It is understood that a UK request for nationals to use electronic e-gates was rejected because the EU's borderless Schengen zone does not currently have the technology to accommodate "third country" nationals.

2020. March 12. The final appeal over same-sex marriage got a day in court for December at the Privy Council in London. The December 7 and 8 hearings, revealed yesterday, will settle the issue after years of dispute in Bermuda’s courts and Parliament. The ruling by Britain’s highest court will also set a precedent for same-sex marriage across the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, and a host of former territories. The court date was announced by the gay rights charity OutBermuda, a plaintiff in the latest round of legal action over same-sex marriage. The group said the top court’s decision would likely be made public in the first quarter of 2021. Adrian Hartnett-Beasley, a director of OutBermuda, said the group had “long known that our pursuit of marriage equality would be a marathon, not a sprint”. He said the Privy Council hearing marked the group’s “final push to preserve our equal rights under the law for all Bermudians and all families”. Mr Hartnett-Beasley added: “We deserve no less.” Zakiya Lord, another director of the group, said: “Since our first court victory and despite every obstacle put in our path, Bermuda’s loving, same-sex couples have celebrated their vows under Bermuda law.” Ms Lord said it was “time for all of us to have certainty, protection and equal dignity that marriage rights will ensure”. Roderick Ferguson, another plaintiff, said the litigants “always knew” the case could head to the Privy Council. He said LGBTQ Bermudians and their supporters had shown strength and numbers “like never before” over the past three years. Mr Ferguson added: “The popular support for marriage equality and for the LGBTQ community is stronger than ever and growing among Commonwealth nations. With three judicial victories behind us, we could not have more faith in the fairness of the courts and our ultimate victory.” OutBermuda was a main sponsor of the island’s first gay pride parade in August 2019, widely seen as a sign of the island’s changing stance. The show of support brought more than 5,000 people onto the streets of Hamilton. But the dispute’s origins go back to the Stubbs Bill of May 1994 that legalized sex between men. The next milestone was June 2013, when the Government approved amendments to the Human Rights Act to prevent discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. MPs in the House of Assembly then approved amendments defining marriage as between a man and a woman, but it was rejected by the Senate on July 2016. Same-sex marriages have been legal since May 2017, when the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Bermudian Winston Godwin and his Canadian fiancé, Greg DeRoche. The two argued their rights were breached by the Registrar’s refusal to post their marriage banns. The court’s decision paved the way for others to wed. In response, the Government passed the Domestic Partnership Act that December, upholding existing same-sex marriages, but prohibiting any further by substituting them with domestic partnerships. Mr Ferguson contested the civil unions as unconstitutional, and was joined by Maryellen Jackson and OutBermuda. Other respondents were listed as Gordon Campbell and Sylvia Hayward, pastor of the Vision Church of Bermuda, which opened in 2009 as a gay-friendly church. Then Chief Justice, Ian Kawaley, ruled in their favour in May 2018, and the Bermuda Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by the Attorney-General. Because the ruling was based on a constitutional issue, the Government got an automatic right of appeal in the Privy Council.

2020. March 3. The battle for equal marriage rights for same-sex couples will have its final day in court later this year. The Bermuda Government, which has appealed a Court of Appeal ruling that opened the way for same-sex marriages, confirmed that its last documents had been filed with the London-based Privy Council, Bermuda’s final court of appeal. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Legal Affairs said both sides had agreed on a statement of facts — where the parties concur on relevant details for the case — and filed it with the Registrar of the Privy Council. She added: “Enquiries are being made as to suitable dates for the hearing this matter in the latter part of this year.” Concerns were raised last month after the Government missed a deadline to file with the Privy Council by December 13 last year. Rod Attride-Stirling, who represents gay rights organisation OutBermuda and four other litigants, warned the delay raised a risk of dismissal of the case by the Privy Council’s judicial committee. But the ministry spokeswoman said that “contrary to a previous report in the media, the appeal was not at risk of being struck out, nor had any application been made to strike out the appeal”. The Royal Gazette understands, however, that the Government had to request special permission from the Privy Council judicial committee to file the statement late. The case can now be set down for a hearing at Britain’s top court. The right to same-sex marriage has been disputed in the courts and Parliament for several years, but the Privy Council’s ruling will settle the case one way or the other. The ruling will also set a precedent in the UK’s Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, as well as several of Britain’s former territories.

2020. February 16. Legislation covering Bermuda for the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union was passed in the House of Assembly on Friday. Premier David Burt said that the EU Withdrawal (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2020 would “ensure continuity now that the UK has left the EU in key areas of company law and investment business”. He added: “Honourable members will be aware that whilst the UK has left the EU, there is currently a transition period during which a number of arrangements are being negotiated, particularly on trade and other regulations. As such, there may be a need to make further amendments to Bermuda’s laws to preserve our competitive advantage in financial services to ensure we meet international obligations.” Mr Burt said the Bill would be deemed to have come into effect on January 31, in line with Brexit. He called the situation “new international ground”. Mr Burt explained: “Negotiators on both sides have found there is much to do and a very short time in which to get it done. This Bill will ensure that Bermuda is ready and able to adjust, whatever continues to be decided in this transition period, and will provide the framework for our continued responsiveness to this change in this relationship between the UK and the EU.” Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, said the “compulsory” amendments needed to be made “to ensure that business carries on as usual. They need to be done ASAP. We don’t have any reservation. We support this wholeheartedly.”

2020. February 16. Passport problems that have plagued some Bermudian travellers are being addressed, the Premier said. David Burt told MPs in the House of Assembly that the issue was one the Government was “continuing to engage on”. He said: “It is my hope that we will have final resolution by the time of the Joint Ministerial Council meeting, which is going to take place at the end of March.” But he added: “What I can say, however, is the transition will take a while. I’m not certain that it will be immediate, but I am hopeful that it will be able to resolve prior to the end of this year.” Mr Burt was speaking at Premier’s Questions in the House of Assembly on Friday. Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, said that he had heard “more and more reports” of travel problems. He asked Mr Burt to detail what was being done to solve the problem “and relieving the stress that many of our Bermudians who love to travel are having”. The British Government took over responsibility for printing passports for Overseas Territories citizens in June 2016 because of security concerns. A new code on the documents has caused problems for some Bermudians traveling through the United States from outside the island. The Premier highlighted that passport changes were made under the former Government. Mr Burt said that the UK had advised the Government that Bermuda was entitled to have its own passport code. But he added: “The challenge is this was taken away from us without our permission — and they are asking us to pay approximately $1 million for the privilege of returning it back. We are continuing to press this issue and we’re expecting that it will be resolved.” Mr Burt said that he did not believe that the House should appropriate money to pay to get the passport code back. He added: “We will hold firm on our position — and I am grateful for the members of the Opposition in their support — in that we do not believe that Bermuda taxpayer dollars should be made to pay for something that we had no choice in losing in the first place.” 

2020. February 5. Britain’s exit from the European Union should not affect free access to Europe by Bermudians, the Governor said yesterday. John Rankin told the Hamilton Rotary Club that visa-free travel in Europe will be retained for British Overseas Territory citizens even after the transition period ends on December 31, 2020. He said: “At the moment, BOTC passport holders enjoy visa-free access to the Schengen area of 26 EU member states. That 90-day visa-free access will not change. It will remain both during the implementation period and thereafter. So there is no effect on the ability of British Overseas Territory Citizens to travel to Europe as they now do.” Mr Rankin added that British passport holders would be able to continue to live and work in the EU under membership access terms until the end of the transition period. He said Brexit would also not affect Bermuda’s Solvency II equivalence status, vital to allow Bermudian-based reinsurers to write policies for European markets. Mr Rankin added: “Solvency II equivalence for Bermuda’s reinsurance industry exists independently of UK membership of the EU and will continue. In that respect, Bermuda will retain its own important relationship with European insurance companies, which benefits both people in the EU, and the people of Bermuda, alike. Bermuda-based reinsurers write some 20 per cent of European property catastrophe reinsurance and in the past 20 years have paid over $72 billion to EU policyholders. So there is every reason for believing that Solvency II equivalence, backed by excellent regulation under the Bermuda Monetary Authority, will continue for the future.” Mr Rankin added that Bermuda did not get EU subsidies, so the island’s bottom line would not be affected, and tariff changes would have little effect because the country exported very little to Europe. He added that he would continue to represent Bermuda’s interests to the UK and that Lord Ahmad, the UK minister with responsibility for the Overseas Territories, had pledged that the priorities of Britain’s territories would be considered in negotiations with the EU. “While there may be challenges ahead, there are also opportunities of which I believe Bermuda is well placed to take advantage as this island continues to meet and beat the highest international regulatory standards. The recent Caribbean Financial Action Task Force assessment of Bermuda, placing us top of the class in the region and beating most other countries globally in our measures to combat money laundering and terrorist finance, is testament to what has been and can be achieved by Bermuda.”

2019. October 21. The Minister of National Security urged a British politician to help bring back the BMU code to Bermudian passports during talks in London, he said yesterday. Wayne Caines attended a series of meetings in the UK capital last week. He met Seema Kennedy, a British MP and Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Home Office, to pursue talks about the passport issues that Bermudians have experienced since the UK Government took over printing. Mr Caines said: “The Home Office minister was keenly interested in resolving the issues and committed to further assisting in the interim to ease the travel issues Bermudians are encountering. We had the opportunity to strongly make the case for the speedy return of Bermuda’s BMU code to our passports. Home Office officials will continue to work with our London Office team as we try to expedite this important revision.” The UK Government took over responsibility for printing passports for British Overseas Territories citizens in June 2016 because of security concerns. A new code on the documents has caused problems for some Bermudians traveling through the United States from outside the island. During his visit, Mr Caines attended the annual meeting of the Britain-Bermuda All-Party Parliamentary Group, chaired by MP Sir David Amess. The minister was invited to speak on Bermuda’s resilience after Hurricane Humberto. He was also given the chance to identify how the APPG can support Bermuda in the UK Parliament. Mr Caines said: “This was a unique opportunity as my short time in London coincided with this AGM. It was important to re-engage with these MPs and peers who have a clear interest in Bermuda and outline for them how they can support our efforts with training and development of the Royal Bermuda Regiment as well as officers of the Bermuda Police Service. Sir David, as chairman, demonstrated the leadership necessary to further grow Bermuda’s support base in the mother of Parliaments.” Mr Caines also met Overseas Territories director Ben Merrick. He explained: “It’s always useful to meet with Ben and to maximize Bermuda’s continuing constitutional relationship with the UK as led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Our discussion was wide-ranging and included an expression of condolences to the family of the late MP Walton Brown with whom Ben had also met during his time as Bermuda’s Minister of Home Affairs.” Mr Caines added: “This was an incredibly productive series of meetings and we saw advancement on key issues important for Bermudians, in travel, security, as well as overt parliamentary support in various areas related to our economy and our continued efforts on border security.”

2019. October 10. The Cayman Islands - Bermuda's main competitor in the international companies business - intends to introduce a public beneficial ownership register. The Government of the British Overseas Territory announced that it would introduce open access to information on true owners of companies at the same time as countries in the European Union. The news marks a policy shift for Bermuda’s offshore financial-services rival, which had previously shared the stance of the Bermuda Government — that it would make beneficial ownership information public only when it became an international standard. Alden McLaughlin, Cayman’s Premier, said the introduction of the UK’s public beneficial ownership register, the EU 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive and similar actions by other jurisdictions represented a shift in the global standard and the practices used to combat illicit activity. Corresponding legislation is expected to be introduced in 2022, the Cayman Compass reported. Cayman’s commitment is similar to that made by the British Crown Dependencies earlier this year. Britain has been pressuring its territories to adopt public beneficial ownership registers since David Cameron, the former British Prime Minister, proposed the idea in 2012 in an effort to clamp down on tax evasion. Bermuda has opposed the idea ever since, on the grounds that if other countries are not required to do the same, it would cause the island economic damage. Bermuda has maintained a beneficial ownership register, though not accessible to the public, for more than 70 years and has tax information exchange agreements with many countries. Britain will issue an Order in Council in December 2020, requiring OTs to establish public registers. The Bermuda Government has argued that the order would breach the Bermuda Constitution. On a visit to Bermuda in April this year, Lord Tariq Ahmad, Britain’s Foreign Office Minister for the Overseas Territories, said the UK was pushing for public registers to become an international standard by the 2023, the same deadline being imposed on Bermuda. Mr McLaughlin added: “I am proud that the Cayman Islands has worked so well with law enforcement and tax authorities the world over, and that the level of transparency of our regime has been recognised by key international bodies and other governments. The timeline we have announced today recognizes the work necessary to create a register that is sufficiently robust, capable of suitable levels of interoperability and that will avoid the redesigns that the UK now has to undertake.” Cayman Finance, a body representing international business, backed the Government’s move. “Now that the UK and EU are establishing an emerging global standard for ownership registers to be public, the Cayman Islands financial services industry will work closely with the Cayman Islands Government to ensure we meet that standard also,” Cayman Finance stated. A Bermuda government spokeswoman said last night: “Bermuda has strong and sophisticated laws that protect against money laundering and terrorist financing. Bermuda’s position on the adoption of a public register of beneficial ownership has been consistent over several years. We are committed to implementing any properly adopted international standard for public registers and will continue to work with bodies like the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development and the Financial Action Task Force to combat money laundering.”

2019. September 4. This summer, two Bermudians interned with the London Representative Office in the UK. The interns, Ari Minors and Madeleine Fox, spent thirteen weeks learning about the work of the London Office and gaining an understanding of Bermuda’s relationship with the UK, specifically within the UK Government and UK Parliament. The interns had the opportunity to work and attend meetings with the UK Overseas Territory Association (UKOTA) and the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) in Brussels. In addition to attending a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) meeting with UK MPs, shadowing officials in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and a working week within a prestigious law firm in the City of London. Ms Fox is a graduate of the University of Oxford (Lincoln College) with a BA in Jurisprudence with Honours. Following her achievement at Oxford Ms Fox has recently completed the Bar Professional Training Course at the City Law School. Prior to studies in the UK Ms Fox completed her first degree in Psychology with Honours from the University of California, Berkeley in the United States. Ms Minors has a Bachelor of Arts Business Administration Degree with Distinction from Mount Saint Vincent University in Canada. She is currently completing her Masters of International Business degree at Regent’s University London. Premier the Hon. David Burt, JP, MP said, “I am immensely pleased that this opportunity has benefited these outstanding, young Bermudian women. The renewal of the internship programme and the addition of placements in our overseas offices creates the kind of international experience that Bermudians need to compete in the global economy. Our hope is that we will be able to do this annually, and for more young Bermudians.” Ms. Kimberley Durrant, Director and UK Representative for the Government of Bermuda, who supervised the interns added, “Ari and Madeleine represent the excellence of Bermuda in their achievements both professionally and in academics. The internship was an opportunity for young Bermudians to be encouraged to develop a career within the public service in the areas of international relations and diplomacy. I am pleased that these young women are encouraged to move forward in this career path.”

2019. September 3. The Governor has thrown a special reception to honour the decades of service to the island’s military by Royal Bermuda Regiment Honorary Colonel Eugene Raynor. The Government House event, hosted by John Rankin, was held to mark the retirement of Colonel Raynor after 20 years as Honorary Colonel and almost 60 years in Bermuda’s armed services. The Governor also used the occasion to thank former RBR Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel David Gibbons, who will succeed Colonel Raynor as honorary colonel, for taking up the role and to welcome Major William Madeiros as the new chairman of the Defence Board and Promotions Board to replace Colonel Gibbons. The honorary colonel’s role is to advise the Governor, the commander-in-chief of the RBR, and the regiment on military matters and to promote military service. Mr Rankin said Colonel Raynor had joined the segregated military in 1961 as a private soldier in the Bermuda Militia Artillery. He added: “You were a founding member of the integrated Bermuda Regiment Band, and rose to become commanding officer between 1980 and 1984.” Mr Rankin, speaking at the reception last Friday night, reminded the audience that Colonel Raynor was also the first black commanding officer of the island’s defence force and was awarded an OBE for his service. He added: “I know enough to know that such awards are not made easily and are for genuine service to your country.” Colonel Raynor, who will continue to sit on the Defence Board, was presented with a miniature replica of a commanding officer’s sword to mark his retirement. Mr Rankin said: “Your advice has been valued by successive commanding officers of the regiment and also by my predecessors as Governor and myself. Your service has been outstanding.” National security minister Wayne Caines said he was a junior leader when Col Raynor was CO of the regiment. He explained that the young soldiers were in awe of him and learnt from him. He added: “I represent your legacy as Minister of National Security. Thank you for pouring into me as a young man. Thank you for that.” Colonel Gibbons told Colonel Raynor: “I joined the Regiment when you were commanding officer, and I was commissioned when you were commanding officer … and I’m here now. And it’s an extremely proud moment to take over from you.” Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley, the CO of the RBR, said he had joined up after Col Raynor stood down as CO, but knew him in his honorary role. He told Col Raynor: “You were out and about with the troops in the field and giving advice to privates and commanding officers. You would always ask those key questions — I think it opened my eyes immensely and helped me to get the post I am in now.”

2019. August 23. Bermudians were called on to “dare to invent the future” at a packed forum last night on national independence. The call came from panellist Ryan Perinchief, who brought the audience to its feet at the Bermuda Industrial Union’s EF Gordon Hall. Mr Perinchief, founder of the Future Leaders Programme, added: “It is time for us as Bermudians to set forward a new vision, before we are thrust into someone else’s.” The final of the five speakers prompted Alex Scott, who served as premier from 2003 to 2006 and appointed the Bermuda Independence Commission in 2005, to tell the room: “Ryan gives me hope, but despair in that I let him down. It was under my watch that we brought out the basis of going independent — but were unable to move it forward.” Mr Perinchief spoke of Bermuda’s “colonial predicament” as an island viewing itself as far from the Caribbean nations that embraced independence decades earlier. He said: “Due to this disconnect, we have consistently told ourselves we are out here on our own, another world, and not ready for independence.” Organisers of the forum highlighted Mr Perinchief as the night’s youngest speaker. Calling for Bermudians to connect with their identity and embrace “a psychological shift”, Mr Perinchief grounded the island’s decades of hesitation over national sovereignty in its colonial status. He said: “I lament that it is impossible to have a unified conversation on independence as Bermudians. Bermuda is fundamentally, as the oldest British colony and the first to import African slaves, a tribalist state.” Voicing regret at his inability to move independence forward, Mr Scott said: “When I listen to young Ryan, it’s like a race car being kept in a garage or being made to go at 20 miles an hour.” Mr Perinchief told the audience a referendum on independence was unlikely to succeed unless opinion was tilted by interference on the part of Britain. He said: “A unique opportunity that might have the potential to change is with the UK’s recent announcement that they want to legislate for Bermuda on beneficial ownership — as well as with Brexit.” Mr Scott opened the talks with an overview of the UK’s brewing political chaos over leaving the European Union. To applause, he said: “Bermuda will not become a democracy until the majority of Bermudians make it one.” He added that the push for sovereignty was being made primarily by the Progressive Labour Party and black Bermudians. Cordell Riley, a statistician and vice-president of Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda, said reports and papers on independence went back to the civil unrest of the 1970s. Mr Riley said: “When I hear people say we need more information, I don’t know how much more information we need.” Issues surrounding independence were catalogued in the Bermuda Independence Commission’s report, he said. Several speakers noted Bermuda’s racial divide, both socially and on the issue of independence. Lloyd Williams, a Bermudian living in the independent Caribbean country of St Kitts and Nevis, said he had been disturbed at the racial divisions he had witnessed back in Bermuda. Mr Williams said: “When I walked around on the 24th of May, it was a black Bermudian parade. This is supposed to be a Bermuda parade.” He told the gathering of hundreds: “We have been preconditioned to think of black and white; colonialism not only brought us the government system, but it brought us a religion which perpetuates racism. Unless we see these truths, we won’t be able to address that properly and see ourselves as human beings.” The room at the BIU had filled to capacity before the forum had begun last night, with attendees listening in the hall outside. David Burt, the Premier, was present along with a host of government MPs, and Michael Dunkley, an Opposition backbencher. The event, organised by activists LaVerne Furbert and Raynol Todd, also heard from Phil Perinchief, a former attorney-general and a vocal advocate for independence. He is also the uncle of Ryan Perinchief. Mr Perinchief questioned people who had opposed independence 20 years ago by saying “yes, independence — but not at this time”. He added: “When asked the question again, they say the same thing. So when? And what time?”

2019. August 21. A former premier who appointed the Bermuda Independence Commission in 2005 has asked young people to turn out for tomorrow night’s special forum on the topic. Alex Scott, who served as premier from 2003 to 2006, said: “The political times here and internationally require us to think soberly about what are going to do.” Mr Scott added that the discussion was like taking part in a family conference. He said: “If you are a young person becoming an adult and you wish to have an influence and a place that you really feel is home, you should join the discussion. A people cannot have total authority if another parliament can take your decision and thwart what you want.” Mr Scott added that Bermuda “was and still is a divided community” that remained split along racial grounds on independence. He said: “It is the penultimate step for the sovereignty of a community. Bermuda has one of the most advanced constitutions in the remaining British territories. To paraphrase the BIC’s report, there is no other country more prepared for independence than Bermuda. There has been occasion when the British have given us the nudge towards independence, which was the case with the White Paper on independence in 1979.” Mr Scott sat on the Pitt Commission, appointed to investigate Bermuda’s inequalities in the wake of riots that engulfed the island in 1977. He said: “Out of its report came a call for Bermuda to move towards independence. The commission came out of the series of disturbances before it, but there has never been a riot since. The commission’s prescription for Bermuda, from a governance perspective, has worked. That was the beginning of the end for the vice-like grip that the United Bermuda Party had on Bermuda The political pendulum swung towards the PLP, and 20 years later the Government was transferred to the PLP for the first time.” Independence was put to the public as a referendum in 1995 by Sir John Swan, a former UBP premier, who resigned from office when it was rejected. Mr Scott suggested that, if white people had supported Sir John’s push for independence, the UBP might have remained in power. He added: “He could have written the rules and constructed a constitution that would have probably sustained the UBP for far longer.” Mr Scott said independence was “relevant to now, as opposed to just historic — the discussion is not independence for independence’s sake. All informed observers feel Bermuda is ready.” Independence has been a goal of the Progressive Labour Party since its formation in 1963. However, Mr Scott traced Bermuda’s push for self-determination to earlier decades, including the work of activist E.F. Gordon and the labour movement in the 1940s. The forum, entitled Independence for Bermuda — Now, or Never? will be held from 6pm to 8pm at the Bermuda Industrial Union on Union Street. The topic of independence will be up for discussion at a forum tomorrow night. Panellists scheduled for a “now or never” review will examine self-determination for the island from 6pm at the Bermuda Industrial Union headquarters in Hamilton. The panellists are:

2019. August 14. A grassroots movement in Bermuda could spark the Cabinet to take the lead on independence if island-wide talks reveal enough support for the cause, political sources have claimed. It was believed that interest in a formal break from Britain had grown in recent months and restless voters wished to prompt government leaders into action. The Progressive Labour Party told The Royal Gazette its sights were set on an independent Bermuda, but the vision was not shared by a majority of residents. A public forum on the topic scheduled for next week at the Bermuda Industrial Union is thought to be one of several that could gauge support. Cordell Riley, a statistician among the five panellists listed for the event, explained: “It was said to me this has to be a grassroots movement. “If it’s a grassroots movement, so there are different shoots at different areas in the island, the Government will start to take notice and say, we have to take the lead on this and have something formal, such as a commission.” He added: “When the people do not see the Government move in the direction that it would like, people start to take it on their own initiative. If there is significant support, it starts to grow and that’s when Government will come in and either take the lead or shut it down.” Mr Riley welcomed the opportunity for a “healthy” discussion and said he planned to cover the potential costs of independence as well as “irrational concerns” about Bermuda going it alone. He said: “I am aware that people are talking about independence more, particularly with what’s going on in the UK with Brexit, and the impact it would have on Bermuda. Also with regards to the economic substance Bill that was passed, and was seen as something that was perhaps enforced upon Bermuda. We hear other talks, in terms of we have a Governor from the UK, he appoints a British police officer as Commissioner, and I’ve even had officers tell me privately there seems to be an increase in recruitment from the UK.” Mr Riley said that although he had yet to conduct a poll on independence this year, results from earlier surveys over the past decade suggested about two thirds of the population, between 60 and 67 per cent, were opposed to a split from the UK. He added: “I don’t think at this point there is a significant movement towards independence. I think there are people saying, ‘Let me have a look at it’, but that doesn’t mean you can’t educate people, that people won’t change their minds.” One source agreed that talk of independence among PLP supporters and the wider community had increased. The source said: “There seems to be more interest around the issue from more rank-and-file members, there’s a little buzz. I’m not saying it’s a groundswell, but more than it has been in the past couple of years. A grassroots group may indicate that this effort is not just coming from the top down but from the bottom up.” Another observer told the Gazette that there was a perception among some people that the PLP leadership was not doing enough “to push the independence agenda”. The source added: “They took the view that we’re going to proceed, party or not, by putting together like-minded people to get out and drive the issue.” It was thought that a non-partisan group could test the temperature of the country before approaching government leaders. The source said the aim would be to indicate to ministers “it’s time that you take the independence issue and move it along ... otherwise there is an independent group who will drive this issue and the party will be embarrassed into moving ahead”. A PLP spokeswoman said on Friday: “Independence remains a core value of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party and we do envision a day when Bermuda will become independent. At this time, however, the people have shown no indication that their feelings on this matter have altered. What is clear, however, is the people of Bermuda’s desire to see greater fairness, greater opportunity, more affordable healthcare and a better quality of life, for themselves and their families. While we fight to tackle those issues, we will continue to educate our people on the benefits of independence and continue to push for our vision of an independent Bermuda, that one day we believe more Bermudians will share.” The PLP’s constitution states that the party’s purpose included it would “serve as a vehicle in moving Bermuda to independence”. However, the subject was not included in its 2017 General Election platform. Jason Hayward, a PLP senator and the Bermuda Public Services Union president, said after the party’s landslide victory two years ago that it was time to “look at independence as a viable option”. A week later, Jamahl Simmons, then the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, dismissed the suggestion when he told the Bermuda Captive Conference: “It was not in our platform, we have not discussed it.” David Burt, the Premier, explained in the House of Assembly in November 2017: “Independence is inside of the PLP’s constitution, so whenever we have a meeting that matter is discussed.” Yet he confirmed the following May that although the “groundwork in constitutional reform” should be laid to allow for self-determination in the future, “independence is not part of our current mandate”. Phil Perinchief, a political scientist and former PLP attorney-general, was also among the list of speakers for next week’s talk, which was advertised to be held at the BIU headquarters from 6pm on August 22. He explained: “I hope to discuss with the panel and the attendees the issue of self-determination, what it means in the lead-up to it and apprise the group about international relations and how we might make our own way in the world with the 193 other independent countries in the UN.” Mr Perinchief added: “I’ve heard the rumblings from different quarters and I would fight for independence or self-determination anywhere, including Hell. I believe that all right-thinking and ambitious people should fight for self-determination and independence because it’s the ultimate expression of who we are and who we would want to be as human beings, in concert and harmony, with other free and loving human beings.”

2019. August 12. A coding problem with Bermudian passports is to blame for “distress and disruption” experienced by some travelers, the national security minister said yesterday. Wayne Caines said that he was aware that some Bermudian BOTC passport-holders had experienced “additional questioning or delays” at some borders. He added that the problem was not as a result of changes with the United States Customs and Border Protection procedures or US immigration law. Mr Caines explained: “The problem has arisen from the electronic coding of Bermuda BOTC passports, which for security reasons are now issued from the UK. Despite guidance issued by the International Air Transport Association confirming that Bermudian BOTC passport holders remain eligible for visa-free travel to the US, difficulties continue to be encountered with some airlines and airline agents.” He said that a joint working group with the Passport Office in Britain had been created to try to fix the problem. Mr Caines said: “It is clear that the current situation has caused distress and disruption in a number of cases and Government House is in close touch with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on this matter.” He added that his ministry “has given resolving this matter urgent priority”. A document which explains the US visa exemptions for Bermuda can be found on the US Consulate website. Mr Caines advised all Bermudian passport holders to visit the website to print a copy of the exemption to carry with their passport “until a solution is found”. He warned: “Please be mindful that presenting the card does not guarantee action by an airline representative or immigration official. Travelers have still experienced difficulties, including being denied boarding and/or missing flights, even after presenting this document.” Mr Caines said that another option for Bermudian passport holders was to consider applying for a US visa. Instructions on how to obtain the visa can be found on the US Consulate’s website.

2019. July 30. A task force to tackle the impact of any Brexit-related issues on Bermuda is expected to include youth, charity, business and union representatives,  Premier David Burt said on Friday. The Premier explained that Walton Brown, a Progressive Labour Party backbench MP, was asked to chair the working group, which will also have a member from the Opposition. Mr Burt told the House of Assembly: “The full impact of Brexit on Overseas Territories generally, and Bermuda in particular, is difficult to measure, particularly against the background of the competing, and unsettled political interests in the UK. Considerations must include the prospect of a snap General Election, the potential for a change in the UK Government, and therefore, its policy towards the OTs. It is therefore proposed to strike a post-Brexit Working Group to examine these scenarios and prepare Bermuda for eventualities arising out of the post-Brexit UK.” Mr Burt explained that it was important to renew preparations for a no-deal Brexit after the appointment of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. Britain is expected to leave the European Union on October 31, and Mr Johnson has tasked one of his Cabinet ministers to focus on preparing for a withdrawal without a deal. Mr Burt told MPs that consequences for Britain included matters related to trade rules and tariffs, the possibility of manufacturers moving their operations to other countries in Europe, and the loss of some subsidies to the UK, such as £3 billion for farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy. He said: “The UK would be free to set its own controls on immigration by EU nationals and the bloc could do the same for Britons. There could be long delays at borders if passport and customs checks are heightened.” Mr Burt added: “I am pleased to advise this Honourable House, that HM Treasury has confirmed that Bermuda’s EU Solvency II equivalence, will be automatically maintained between Bermuda and the UK, after the UK’s departure from the EU, in either a ‘deal’ or ‘no deal’ scenario, as part of existing EU legislation that is being moved over into domestic UK law, upon Brexit.” The Premier revealed that a draft Bill had been prepared to address any gaps in Bermuda law and MPs could expect to debate it in September. Mr Burt explained: “As part of its remit, the working group will examine possible responses of Bermuda to any changes in UK relations with overseas territories, including any constitutional change, as well as any necessary changes to the existing regime of self-governance presently enjoyed by Bermuda. This is new territory, not just for Bermuda, but for the world. An European Union without the UK is something that had been often discussed, but is now on the cusp of becoming reality. This government recognizes the uncertainty this can bring for Bermudians who live in and travel to the UK and Europe, and for those businesses who operate here and in those jurisdictions. We have been preparing for some time, and our London Office team is actively engaged in the work required, to ensure we have the best intelligence to support our policymaking. Come what may, Bermuda is well placed to manage the change that Brexit will bring.”

2019. July 25. The UK government has said it will provide a Royal Navy escort for British-flagged ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz - amid increasing diplomatic tensions in the Gulf. The ships include those owned or leased by non-Bermudian companies - of which there are many -incorporated in and operated directly or indirectly from Bermuda. Ship owners are being advised to give details of their route so they can be escorted by the frigate HMS Montrose. The move follows the seizure of the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero by Iran's Revolutionary Guard on Friday. The ship's owner said the crew are safe and co-operating with officials. Shipping firm Stena Bulk said its 23 crew members - who are Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino - had been able to talk directly to their families for a limited time. The decision to provide a military escort to merchant shipping follows a meeting of Downing Street's emergency Cobra committee to discuss the situation in the Gulf. The latest guidance advises British-flagged vessels to inform the Department of Transport if they are passing through the Strait of Hormuz so that a Royal Navy warship can provide a military escort. "The Royal Navy has been tasked to accompany British-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz, either individually or in groups, should sufficient notice be given of their passage," a government spokesman said. "Freedom of navigation is crucial for the global trading system and world economy, and we will do all we can to defend it," he added. "This move will provide some much needed safety and reassurance to our shipping community in this uncertain time. However, we will continue to push for a de-escalation of tensions in the region and the safe return of our seafarers." The UK Chamber of Shipping said it welcomed the government's decision, calling the announcement "an encouraging step". UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman added that the government was focused on securing the release of the detained Stena Impero tanker and its crew, while "de-escalating current tensions" with Iran. Stena Bulk has said it is discussing the release of the tanker and has asked "local authorities" for access to the vessel. On Wednesday night, the MoD said HMS Montrose escorted two merchant vessels traveling together through the strait. HMS Montrose is currently deployed to the region to provide reassurance for British ships, and earlier this month was forced to move between three Iranian boats which were trying to impede an oil tanker. Iran denied that the incident happened and said there had been no confrontation with any foreign vessels. That incident followed the UK's decision to seize an Iranian tanker, Grace 1, which London alleges was carrying oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions. Iran has denied the claim. On Monday, the then Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told MPs that the UK would seek to create a European-led mission to ensure safe passage of international vessels in the Gulf. The new scheme would have a mandate to ensure freedom of navigation of international ships, the Foreign Office has said. But, while the mission would be implemented "as quickly as possible", Mr Hunt insisted it would not include the US as part of President Trump's policy of "maximum pressure" on Tehran.

2019. July 24. A “productive working relationship” with Britain is expected to continue after controversial Boris Johnson became the new British Prime Minister, Premier David Burt said yesterday. Mr. Burt said: “The Government of Bermuda has a long history of working with UK governments. With the election of Mr Johnson as the leader of his party and his appointment as Prime Minister, I fully expect that this productive working relationship will continue.” Mr Burt was speaking after Mr Johnson, a former foreign secretary who resigned last year, was elected by Conservative party members as the successor to Theresa May. He was confirmed in the role today. Mr Burt met Mr Johnson - see photograph below - on a visit to London to attend a Joint Ministerial Council of the UK Overseas Territories in 2017. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Premier David Burke in London

The former Mayor of London, took 92,153 votes from party members, a convincing victory over Jeremy Hunt, who took over from Mr Johnson as foreign secretary, who got 46,656 votes. Mr Johnson, a major supporter of the campaign for Britain to leave the EU, told supporters in his victory speech that he would “deliver Brexit” and “unite the country”. Craig Cannonier, the One Bermuda Alliance leader, said that he supported a prime minister who realised their duty to listen to the people and governments of the Overseas Territories. He added: “As a former foreign secretary, I would expect Mr Johnson to be aware of the issues which affect countries like Bermuda and I would expect him to act accordingly.” Mr Cannonier said: “With any change of leadership there is a period when you are waiting to see what policies the new prime minister will want to pursue and how those policies might affect countries like Bermuda. I would encourage the Government to take every possible step to ensure that in this settling in period, and despite the negotiations over Brexit, that our voice is heard loud and clear. Mr Cannonier added that he had a “simple” message for Mr Johnson. He said: “We are a self-governing country, we are the UK’s oldest dependent territory, so treat us with respect and do not try to force things upon us that harm our economy, such as a public Register of Interests.” John Rankin, the Governor, said: “I was pleased that while serving as foreign secretary in 2017, Mr Johnson was able to meet the Premier in London. I am confident that the positive relationship with Bermuda will continue.” Donald Trump, the US President, told an event in Washington yesterday that “a really good man is going to be the Prime Minister of the UK now”

2019. July 9. Progressive Labour Party backbenchers have called for a fresh discussion on independence. Walton Brown said the need for a debate had become more important because the British Government had forced social and financial policies on Bermuda. He told the House of Assembly last Friday: “Since 1999, we have had the UK Government devolving power back to itself and we have had a series of challenges in that regard. We have the UK Government putting pressure on us to do things in our social policies that we have resisted, we have had pressure in terms of financial disclosure that we are resisting and need to continue to resist.” Mr Brown said: “We have to fight this onslaught of the UK Government as much as we can. It is untoward, it is inappropriate and it is highly offensive and we need to come together to address this issue.” He added: “I know there is a lot of fear out there just to raise the topic itself, but we should have no fear of such an important issue. We should take the bull by the horns and address the issue forthrightly.” Backbench colleague Rolfe Commissiong backed Mr Brown’s views and said the subject of independence was far from dead. Mr Commissiong added: “In many ways it’s maybe even more relevant now for due consideration than it has been for the last one or two decades. It may indeed be time for that topic to come back upon the national stage for a new generation to join us old folks in examining the issue.” Mr Commissiong added independence would create a “truly national identity” and “real citizenship” for Bermuda.

2019. June 29. The Premier has accused the British Government of an attempt to impose “modern-day colonialism”. David Burt said that the Overseas Territories would resist efforts by the British Government to enforce public registers of beneficial ownership. He added: “Modern-day colonialism is what is being attempted by those persons in Westminster and I am certain that all Overseas Territories resist it vociferously and will continue to do so.” He added the Overseas Territories would resist suggestions in a recent report by Westminster’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee that the UK should force the Overseas Territories to legalise same-sex marriage and that they should look at giving resident UK citizens the right to vote and run for office. Mr Burt was speaking on Wednesday at the annual Pre-Joint Ministerial Council meeting in the Cayman Islands, held in the run-up to a meeting of the council in London this year. Mr Burt told The Cayman Compass newspaper: “To see persons who don’t necessarily have a familiarity reverting to a position that we thought was long gone, where it seems as though Westminster feels they can dictate to Overseas Territories, is certainly a dangerous development. But this is a committee. The Government has taken a position and we will wait to see what happens in a future government, but I think one thing is for certain — all Overseas Territories are united to protect their constitutional position as it stands.” Mr Burt said he had been told by other Overseas Territories at the Caymans meeting that the level of engagement between the report writers and some jurisdictions was “very low”. He added that the Overseas Territories would unite to protect each other from British interference in domestic affairs. Mr Burt said: “There are many different issues that we deal with, but at the end of the day if there is an issue that is affecting the Falklands or that is affecting Montserrat, we have to stand united so that we can be sure that our constitutional arrangements are respected by the United Kingdom.” Other Overseas Territory leaders backed Mr Burt’s stance. Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, Premier of the Turks and Caicos, predicted there would be further pressure from the UK on same-sex marriage and voting rights for UK citizens. She said: “It is a matter of constitutional overreach, and respecting territories rights to choose how they want to govern, how they want to grow their countries, who they want to run in their elections and certainly their culture and religious beliefs.” Albert Isola, Gibraltar’s Minister for Commerce, said: “There is no way today we can accept modern colonialism through the back door by allowing these things to happen. On that, as has been demonstrated today, we are all 100 per cent on the same page.”

2019. June 26. The Governor has carried out “extensive” research into whether a posthumous pardon should be granted to a pastor who was thrown into jail after he wrote about the unfair treatment of Jamaican workers in Bermuda more than a century ago. A Government House spokeswoman said last week that John Rankin was still considering the request, made by David Burt, the Premier, in the House of Assembly a year ago. She added: “Since receiving the request for a posthumous pardon for the Reverend Monk, the Governor has carried out extensive research into the matter and continues to consider it in line with his responsibilities under the Constitution. “When a decision has been made on the request, it will be duly announced.” Mr Burt added: “I have discussed this matter with the Governor regularly and my hope is that we will have a decision soon.” The Reverend Charles Vinton Monk was locked up for libel after he exposed poor conditions endured by people brought to Bermuda to work on the Royal Naval Dockyard. David Burt, the Premier, told the House of Assembly at the time that the clergyman and journalist went through a criminal trial “laced with shocking bias”. He asked the Governor to consult the Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy on a posthumous pardon for the pastor. The Governor can grant a pardon to anyone convicted in a Bermuda court after consultation with the advisory committee. Mr Monk, an African Methodist Episcopal Church minister and journalist from America, who lived in Somerset, was found guilty of criminal libel in the early 1900s after he highlighted the conditions of laborers brought from the West Indies to expand the naval base. Mr Burt told MPs last year that the pastor “witnessed harsh and terrible conditions imposed on Jamaican workers”. He said then: “In keeping with the doctrine of the AME Church and its commitment to social justice, Reverend Monk took to writing about these conditions and exposed the company responsible for them in the hope that this would bring about a change to the benefit of the workers. Instead of accepting the truth of the obvious state of the workforce, the rampant disease and dangerous working conditions at the site, the principals of the company saw to it that Monk was arrested and charged with criminal libel.” The Premier said Mr Monk was jailed “for simply reporting the truth”. He added: “A review of the case indicates that the whole affair was laced with shocking bias.” The House heard the pastor was unrepresented in court after his counsel died the day before the original trial date, amid speculation he was poisoned. Sir Brownlow Gray, the trial judge, was the father of prosecutor Reginald Gray and the pair were also related to the assistant justice. The Crown called only two witnesses compared with more than 100 summonsed to defend the accuracy of Mr Monk’s reports. Mr Burt’s request was backed by church leaders including the Reverend Nicholas Tweed, pastor of St Paul AME Church in Hamilton. Mr Tweed said the Premier had “both the historical understanding of the importance of this case and also the moral courage to correct an historic wrong”. The granting of full and free, or unconditional, pardon to people after death is rare and there have been only four individual pardons granted in the UK since 1945. These included Timothy Evans, who was hanged in 1950 for the murder of his 14-month-old daughter. He had also been charged with strangling his wife but the case never went to court. He was pardoned after serial killer John Christie, his landlord in London at the time of the child’s death, admitted the murders in the wake of his conviction and death sentence three years later for the killing of six other women. Mr Evans was pardoned in 1966. Computer pioneer and code breaker Alan Turing, who played a major role in breaking the German Enigma code in the Second World War and made a huge contribution to the Allied victory in the conflict, received a posthumous pardon for his 1952 conviction for gross indecency. He was arrested after he had an affair with a 19-year-old man and the conviction meant that he lost security clearance to continue his top secret work on code breaking at Britain’s signals intelligence agency GCHQ. Mr Turing’s rehabilitation paved the way for a law change that gave pardons, many of them posthumous, to thousands of gay and bisexual men who were cautioned or convicted under historical legislation that outlawed gay sex.

2019. June 25. Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man have pledged to make their beneficial ownership registries public by 2023. The move by the Crown Dependencies comes as Britain is applying pressure on its Overseas Territories, including Bermuda, to make company ownership records open to the public. Unveiling of the three islands’ records will come in three phases. By 2021, the registries will be merged with the European Union system to give access to authorities in the bloc. In 2022, financial-services businesses will be given access in order to help them do their due diligence. And in 2023, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man will table legislation to open the registries to the public. Like Bermuda, the Dependencies already allow access to the records to overseas authorities who make a request. In the UK, beneficial ownership records are public and anyone who owns 25 per cent or more of a company is named. Britain will issue an Order in Council in December 2020, requiring the Overseas Territories to establish public registers. The Bermuda Government has argued such an order would breach the Bermuda Constitution. Lord Tariq Ahmad, Britain’s Foreign Office Minister for the Overseas Territories, said during a visit to Bermuda two months ago that Britain’s Conservative government had been opposed to taking this course of action, but was obliged to do so after the UK Parliament passed an amendment to the Sanctions and Money Laundering Bill. Gavin St Pier, Chief Minister of Guernsey, said the Dependencies’ move was bringing the islands into line with “regional standards” of financial transparency, and that he did not expect that it would discourage businesses from operating there. Howard Quayle, the Chief Minister of the Isle of Man, said that the European Union’s plan for all member states to implement their own public registries by 2023 “creates a clear direction of travel”. Mr Quayle added: “It is in all our strategic interests and our standing as responsible jurisdictions to commit to further develop the accessibility and transparency of our register of beneficial ownership for companies.” Some in the island’s business communities had reservations. Tony Mancini, president of the Guernsey International Business Association, said confidentiality was the “bedrock” of Guernsey’s financial model and to “unilaterally” discard it could be economically damaging. Mr Mancini told the Guernsey Press: “Our clients have many legitimate reasons for wanting to keep their affairs private and they value the ability that Guernsey has to achieve that in a responsible way. Our clients also recognize the importance of adhering to evolving international standards. So it is key to us that Guernsey maintains confidentiality while it is the international norm. We all accept that if standards change such that publicly accessible registers become the norm, then we must change in line with that.” John Shenton, a director at the Jersey branch of Grant Thornton, said the move would unnecessarily risk individuals’ private information being exposed to “tabloid sensationalism”, given it is available to the authorities for “legitimate reasons” already, the BBC reported. Stuart Platt-Ransom, chief executive officer at Oak Group, a private client, corporate services and fund administration group with offices in Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man, told the Guernsey Press: “The current registers are not secret as they are available to the authorities if needed. There were real and justifiable reasons why beneficial ownership registers were private. These structures and companies are ordinarily not private for tax-driven reasons, contrary to what the groups lobbying for this public register claim. I think the real crux of this is quite simple. If and to the extent global protocol calls for this transparency, then that’s fine and just.” Dame Margaret Hodge, one of the UK Parliament’s most prominent campaigners for greater transparency in Britain’s territories, told the BBC that she welcomed the proposed change, but expressed scepticism about how “transparent” the final register would be until further clarifications were made by the islands. “Their action plan is awash with get-out clauses, and we still do not know what the register will ultimately look like,” she said.

2019. June 14. Lawyers for a man fighting for Bermuda status told London’s Privy Council that his lack of status was “unfair” and an “anomaly”. Richard Drabble, QC, told the court that Bermudian-born Michael Barbosa cannot apply for Bermudian status because he was born on the island to non-Bermudian parents. Mr Drabble argued that while those in Mr Barbosa’s position are not listed in the Bermuda Constitution as “belonging” to Bermuda, the list was not exhaustive. He said: “There is a common-law category of belongers, Section 11.5 is a deeming provision. It puts beyond doubt that all those in the list are belongers and have the rights contained in the section. The language of 11.5 does not have the natural effect of excluding people from the category of belongers. The language is one of deeming, which brings people in.” But James Guthrie, for the Ministry of Home Affairs, said the law was clear and unambiguous. Mr Guthrie agreed it was an “anomaly” that Mr Barbosa had lesser rights under the section than his wife, who was born in the Philippines. But he said Mr Barbosa was not “stateless” as he had British Overseas Territory citizenship and the right to live in Bermuda indefinitely. He said: “The question is what can be done about it if in the face of clear constitutional provisions? The answer is not to say the Constitution means something it doesn’t mean.” The case hinges on whether the list of “belongers” in the Bermuda Constitution excludes non-naturalized British Overseas Territories citizens who acquired their citizenship through their connection to the island. Courts in Bermuda heard that Mr Barbosa was born in Bermuda to non-Bermudian parents in 1976 and is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by birth. He was granted British Overseas Territories citizenship in 2002 and given indefinite leave to remain in Bermuda in 2013. But he launched a legal action in 2015 because he was not eligible to apply for Bermudian status or a Permanent Resident’s Certificate. Lawyer Peter Sanderson argued at the time that Mr Barbosa belongs to Bermuda on the basis of common law. Bermuda’s Supreme Court ruled in Mr Barbosa’s favour in 2016 and found that he “belonged” to Bermuda, but the Court of Appeal overturned the decision later that year. Mr Drabble said that Mr Barbosa was a “belonger” by virtue of the fact he obtained British Overseas Territory citizenship by his birth in Bermuda. He said Section 11.5 of the Bermuda Constitution establishes several categories of people who can “belong” to Bermuda, but does not exclude those who obtain it under common law. Mr Drabble said: “It doesn’t matter what the draftsman of the Constitution actually thought at the time of drafting. The constitutional principles that we have to apply are that Section 11 as a whole should not be construed in a way that cuts down the rights granted in Chapter 1 of the Constitution unless the language explicitly produces that result. The natural meaning of ‘deemed’ is to bring things in, not to exclude them.” He added: “Mr Barbosa is not the only one affected by the anomaly. Our best estimate is some 300 people are in roughly the same circumstances and at least potentially the beneficiaries of a ruling on the section.” Mr Guthrie however said the section is intended to define who is Bermudian under the Constitution and not to “bring in” more categories as suggested. He said: “We say the Court of Appeal were quite right to conclude that it is what it is and it cannot reasonably be read as anything else but intended to provide a list of those persons who belong to Bermuda. That is really that. It’s not capable of enormous elaboration.” The panel reserved their judgment until a later date.

2019. June 10. Bermuda’s final court of appeal will hear a case next week which could open the door for British Overseas Territories citizens to apply for Bermudian status. The applicant, Michael Barbosa, will argue that parts of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 discriminate on the basis of place of origin. Peter Sanderson, Mr Barbosa’s lawyer, said the case could affect hundreds of people born in Bermuda, but who have no route to Bermudian status. He added: “If it is successful in the Privy Council, then it would immediately impact a very limited number of people who were born in Bermuda prior to 1983 and so have a Bermuda passport, but who for whatever reason have fallen through the cracks and have been unable to obtain PRC or status. It could also impact on around 300 to 400 children who were born in Bermuda after 1983 and lived here for the first ten years of their life. These children are able to register as British Overseas Territories Citizens, but in many cases have no pathway to status.” Bermuda’s Supreme Court ruled in Mr Barbosa’s favour in 2016 and found that he “belonged” to Bermuda, but the Court of Appeal overturned the decision later that year. But Mr Barbosa appealed to the Privy Council, which is scheduled to hear the case next Thursday. The case will hinge on whether the list of “belongers” in the Bermuda Constitution excludes non-naturalized British Overseas Territories citizens who acquired their citizenship through their connection to the island. Five law lords, Lord Reed, Lord Kerr, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Kitchin and Lord Sales, will sit on the bench for the case. Mr Sanderson said the case would address the issue of “third-class citizens” with no rights in Bermuda. He said: “If somebody is naturalized as a British Overseas Territories citizen, for example, because they are a PRC holder or spouse of a Bermudian, then they will be considered as somebody who ‘belongs’ to Bermuda and have constitutional protection to live and work without restriction. Bizarrely, the same is not the case for somebody who was born as a British Overseas Territories citizen.” He added that the legal team was working on a “very limited budget” and invited anyone who wanted to help to donate. Courts in Bermuda heard that Mr Barbosa was born in Bermuda to non-Bermudian parents in 1976 and is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by birth. He was granted British Overseas Territories citizenship in 2002 and given indefinite leave to remain in Bermuda in 2013. But he launched a legal action in 2015 because he was not eligible to apply for Bermudian status or a Permanent Resident’s Certificate. Mr Sanderson argued at the time that Mr Barbosa belongs to Bermuda on the basis of common law. Puisne Justice Stephen Hellman found in favour of Mr Barbosa, ruled that he belonged to Bermuda and that he had been discriminated against. Mr Justice Hellman also granted Mr Barbosa the option to apply to the courts for a remedy if the Bermuda Government did not provide a legal remedy before the end of the parliamentary session. The judgment was believed to clear the way for other British Overseas Territory citizens to apply for Bermudian status. Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, then the One Bermuda Alliance government’s Minister of Home Affairs and Mark Pettingill, the Attorney-General at the time, launched a successful appeal later that year. They argued that Mr Justice Hellman had interpreted the Bermuda Constitution too broadly and that he could not add to the categories of people who “belong” to the island. The Court of Appeal judgment, written by Appeal Judge Desiree Bernard, said section 11(5) of the Constitution was legislatively a list of those who qualify as “belongers”. She wrote: “It sought to make clear and remove doubt about those whom the Constitution regarded as belonging to Bermuda. I do not agree with Mr Justice Hellman that the list is not exhaustive. Unfortunately, persons such as the respondent who was born in Bermuda of parents who did not have Bermudian status were not part of that list.”

2019. June 5. Bermuda’s register of beneficial company ownership cannot be released under the island’s public access to information law, according to a decision due to come out today. Gitanjali Gutierrez, the information commissioner, said the Bermuda Monetary Authority was right to refuse The Royal Gazette access to the register after a public access to information request was made in February 2017. The BMA denied the request on the grounds that the secrecy provision in section 31(1) of the Bermuda Monetary Authority Act prohibited disclosure. The authority said in its denial letter: “Under that provision, the servants and agents of the authority shall preserve and aid in preserving secrecy with regard to all matters relating to the affairs of the Government of Bermuda or the Bermuda Monetary Authority or of any person that may come to his knowledge in the course of his duties. The authority continued: “Breach of this provision amounts to a criminal offence.” Ms Gutierrez said she was “satisfied that the BMA’s denial of public access to the records was justified”. The commissioner said the Pati Act allowed records to be withheld if their disclosure was prohibited by other legislation. She added public authorities did not have to weigh up whether there was a public interest in release of the records in such cases. Ms Gutierrez examined the BMA’s database, which holds information on the real owners of Bermuda-based companies, as part of her review and said she was satisfied it came under the secrecy provision of the BMA Act. The Foreign Affairs Committee of the British Parliament recommended this year that Britain should order all its Overseas Territories to make their beneficial ownership registers public. The committee said: “We believe it is a matter of national security, because there is evidence to suggest that money tied to autocratic regimes has been connected to OT-registered companies, and that considerations of competitiveness cannot prevent action. The public in the UK and elsewhere have a right to see beneficial ownership information and we are calling on the Foreign Secretary to lay out plans for achieving this.” Ms Gutierrez said the committee’s recommendations, in its Global Britain and the Overseas Territories: Resetting the Relationship report, concerned a “policy proposal and do not reflect the existing legislation applicable in Bermuda”. She added: “The statements by the committee do not carry any weight in this review.” The commissioner added that Parliament had amended several laws in recent years to remove beneficial ownership records from the scope of the Pati Act, including the Companies Act 1981, the Limited Liability Act 2016 and the Partnership Act 1902. Secrecy over offshore company ownership came under renewed scrutiny in 2017 after the “Paradise Papers” revelations by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other media organisations. Almost 100 news outlets around the world revealed how the rich hid their money after client information hacked from Bermuda’s Appleby law firm was made public. The reports, and comments by Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, branded Bermuda as one of the world’s most secretive jurisdictions. The British Parliament later agreed to issue an Order in Council in December 2020 to force British Overseas Territories to establish public registers. The Bermuda Government has argued that the order will breach the Bermuda Constitution and damage the island’s economy. Lord Ahmad, Britain’s Foreign Office Minister for the Overseas Territories, said on visit to Bermuda in April that the territories would have until 2023 to establish public registers and that the UK would push for that to be the international standard.

2019. May 27. A British MP with family ties to Bermuda has called on the island to tackle its fears over same-sex marriage and give gay couples the right to marry. Gillian Keegan, whose husband, Michael, is descended from the Gosling rum family, told The Royal Gazette the United Kingdom should not have to force Bermuda to introduce marriage equality, in line with a recommendation in a report from the British parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. Ms Keegan, Conservative MP for Chichester and parliamentary private secretary to the Ministry of Defence, said: “I think Bermuda is better than that.” She raised Bermuda’s record on same-sex marriage in the House of Commons this month in a debate on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. Ms Keegan told MPs: “Our country is a leader in the world, much respected for our influence and the example we set. I am proud that it was a Conservative prime minister who put same-sex marriage on the statute book, but, as many colleagues have said, there is much to be done in the wider Commonwealth countries. I was particularly disappointed to see what was happening in Bermuda, which still seems to have a problem with LGBT rights. I mention Bermuda as my husband is the grandson of a Gosling, a very well-known Bermudian family, famous for Gosling’s rum.” One would think that a wealthy and important British overseas territory would take a more enlightened and tolerant approach, and I call on it to do so.” Bermuda’s Supreme Court ruled in May 2017 that gay couples could marry but six months later the Government passed the Domestic Partnership Act, outlawing same-sex weddings. A legal challenge was brought against the Act and then Chief Justice Ian Kawaley ruled in May last year that the parts of the legislation that restricted marriage to opposite-sex couples were against the Constitution. The Court of Appeal upheld his decision in November and same-sex marriages were once again allowed to take place. But the Government has said it would appeal to the Privy Council in London. Walter Roban, the home affairs minister, said the case was important to Bermuda’s people and the Government wanted to go to the highest court of appeal to “get it right”. Ms Keegan said in a phone interview that she and her husband, whose grandmother Armine Gosling was Bermudian, visited Bermuda fairly regularly but had only recently discovered, through research on LGBT rights, how the island had seesawed on the question. She added: “Both of us are very concerned about LGBT rights. My husband’s two brothers were gay. We have a sort of natural interest. During our research, we were very disappointed to see that in Bermuda they passed an Act to remove the right of same-sex couples to marry. It surprised us, from what we knew about Bermuda. We thought it would be a little bit more enlightened than that.” Ms Keegan said: “We were surprised to see Bermuda on the list of countries that were taking regressive steps.” She added that Britain did not issue “diktats” to its Overseas Territories on a regular basis and should not necessarily force Bermuda’s hand on the question. But she added: “I think it should definitely be encouraged. It’s a very important human right. I think it would be a shame if the OTs didn’t move into the 21st century.” Same-sex marriage has been allowed in most of the UK since 2014, but not in Northern Ireland, which has civil partnerships that offer many of, but not all, the rights of marriage. Ms Keegan said she had spoken to many voters at the time, including Conservatives and Christians, who were “very fearful” of the change but who now accepted that “it hasn’t had any impact on their lives at all”. She added: “It hasn’t devalued marriage.” Ms Keegan said there should be a “breaking down of barriers” in Bermuda so an honest and open discussion could be held on why sections of Bermudian society feared same-sex marriage. She added the status quo was “not ideal” because Bermuda was now seen around the world as a regressive jurisdiction on marriage equality. Ms Keegan said: “I think they need to clarify the law. I think it’s important that it’s enshrined in law, the right to love.” The Ministry of Home Affairs did not respond to questions on the status of its Privy Council appeal.

2019. May 25. A massive logistics ship has been loaded with Royal Bermuda Regiment trucks and equipment headed for a major disaster relief exercise in the Caribbean. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay will transport the RBR gear to the Dominican Republic and on to St Vincent & the Grenadines for the multinational disaster training Exercise TradeWinds, to be carried out over May and June. Mounts Bay will also act as the hurricane relief ship and carry out drug interdiction patrols in the Caribbean region and Bermuda over the hurricane season, which runs from June to the end of November. Captain Gordon Emmerson, who joined the ship as RBR liaison officer for the exercise, said: “I’m very excited about it. I’m nervous about sea sickness, but I’m looking forward to linking up with the crew on the ship and learning about how they transport different types of cargo.” He added that he would take part in training exercises with the crew and 24 Commando Royal Engineers, who spent a week training with the RBR before they joined the ship after it docked in Hamilton Harbour. Royal Navy Lieutenant Lee Holborn, a Wildcat helicopter pilot from the Fleet Air Arm’s 815 Squadron attached to Mounts Bay, said: “This is my first encounter with the RBR, but should the worst happen and we find ourselves coming back here later in the year, we are really set up. The 32-year-old, from Wiltshire, added: “We know their plans and how we would fit into them.” Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley, the RBR’s Commanding Officer, visited the ship on Wednesday, just before it headed for the Dominican Republic, to brief to RFA and Royal Navy personnel on board. He said: “We have achieved everything that we wanted to do in equipment preparation and training for the exercise. I gave an intelligence safety brief to the helicopter pilots on hard and soft landing sites around the island. If the need arises. I also wanted to make sure our standard operating procedures were up to date for ground troops supervising helicopter landings. ” Colonel Curley added: “It’s a very impressive ship, has tons of humanitarian aid and disaster relief equipment on board and is equipped with its own powered floating dock. It’s ideal for dealing with emergencies and using beaches as well as normal dock facilities. And whenever we have to do an operation together, we have already been introduced and will be able to integrate seamlessly. I wish Captain Jeremy Macanley, his entire crew and Captain Emmerson well for their deployment. Captain Emmerson will be attached to Mounts Bay for five weeks and he will be met by RBR troops on the second part of TradeWinds in St Vincent & the Grenadines.” Cub Scouts and Royal Bermuda Regiment junior leaders were earlier treated to a tour of the ship. Children from the 16th Bermuda Cub Scouts went aboard the vessel with the RBR junior leaders on Tuesday. Zach Moniz, 10, said: “I like it a lot because I always play a lot of video games, but this is way better.” Cara Bernhard, 11, added: “I like it because we probably wouldn’t be doing it unless we are cub scouts.” Mounts Bay made its first call on Bermuda in 2017 in the aftermath of devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria hitting the Caribbean. Captain Jed Macanley said: “There is lots that we can learn from the regiment from 2017 and from where it went and assisted so it has been mutual learning. As much as anything, it’s good to know each other so that if we do have to pitch up we have already made the introductions, we know who we are working with, how they work, how we work and how we can synchronize together.” Third Officer Alexander Moore explained how technology helped to power the vessel or hold its position in shallow water. 

2019. May 19. A Royal Fleet Auxiliary cargo ship, RFA Mounts Bay, has called on Bermuda this weekend. The vessel, which is visiting the island until Wednesday, is on hurricane season patrol. It is part of Britain’s rapid response aid for British Overseas Territories in the region. Mounts Bay made its first call on Bermuda in 2017, in the aftermath of devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria hitting the Caribbean. It delivered humanitarian aid to the Overseas Territories of Anguilla, Turks and Caicos Islands and British Virgin Islands, along with Dominica. During its visit, the Mounts Bay will be briefed on the island’s emergency planning arrangements, as well as key points requiring support in times of need. The ship is to liaise with the Royal Bermuda Regiment, and members of the Bermuda Cub Scouts and RBR Junior Leaders will also have the opportunity to visit. Twenty soldiers from the British Army 24 Commando Royal Engineer Regiment will join the ship, along with Captain Gordon Emmerson of the Royal Bermuda Regiment. John Rankin, the Governor, said he was “delighted” at the visit. Mr Rankin added: “The ship is a key part of the UK’s commitment to providing disaster relief to Bermuda and the Caribbean Overseas Territories in time of need. Mounts Bay is hugely well-equipped and her crew have the skills to make a real difference in assisting local emergency services in time of crisis.” The ship’s cargo includes tractors, diggers, trucks, quad bikes, command and all-terrain vehicles. The vessel will also take part in anti-drug operations in the Caribbean later this year with partners in the region.

2019. May 18. A British Army general responsible for commissioning more than 1,000 officers and who wrote the book on military leadership has shared his expertise with the Royal Bermuda Regiment. Major General Patrick Marriott, a former Commandant of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, the training school for British Army officers, visited Warwick Camp while on the island to speak about ethical leadership at a conference organised by asset management firm Schroders. He met RBR Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley, other RBR officers and senior non-commissioned officers. General Marriott said: “The regiment is unique and I think it does an incredible job in a situation that’s changing and evolving. It’s evolved very well under Colonel Curley’s leadership. He consults people, that’s very obvious and that will make the evolution of the regiment so much better.” The RBR has re-organised to create two main companies, one trained for humanitarian and disaster relief and the other for more traditional military roles. General Marriott said: “Essentially, the RBR is going to be focused on real public service — disaster relief and crises. There will be great rewards when, sadly, they do need to respond to a hurricane. I think the island is very fortunate to have them here.” General Marriott was speaking at the Officers’ Mess at Warwick Camp, just before he spoke at the Schroders conference at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club last weekend. He said: “If I was a young lad or young girl on the island, joining up is a really good thing to do, even if only for a few years. It’s putting something into the island in a really good way.” General Marriott was Commandant at Sandhurst, where RBR officers are trained, between 2009 and 2012. Captain Paolo Odoli, the new RBR Adjutant, who attended Sandhurst when General Marriott was in charge, said: “It was a real pleasure to once again be able to attend one of his talks on leadership having done so nine years ago at the academy. ‘Do as you ought, not as you want’ speaks to the heart of ethical leadership, which is a guiding principle for officers who earn a commission in the RBR. We are pleased that he enjoyed his visit to Warwick Camp and thinks so highly of the RBR and the success of our reorganization. We strive to be a modern, forward-thinking organisation that is focused on preparing ourselves for the challenges that we are likely to face in the future.” Captain Odoli added that the RBR was still accepting applications for places on the next Recruit Camp, due to be held in July. General Marriott joined the British Army in 1977 and was commissioned from Sandhurst into the 17th/21st Lancers. He has served in combat hotspots like Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Northern Ireland and also held senior staff command positions, including Director-General of Leadership, and was responsible for the creation of British Army’s leadership doctrine. He is still a serving soldier in the British Army Reserve. Schroders made ten spots at its conference available to the RBR free of charge. Lana Desmond, the firm’s managing director, said: “I am extremely grateful to Major General Marriott for being the guest speaker at our investment conference last week, and was delighted that we were able to connect him with the Royal Bermuda Regiment during his time here, which allowed him to share his personal experiences with Bermuda’s soldiers. It was also our pleasure to be able to host some of the Royal Bermuda Regiment personnel at our investment conference.”

2019. May 13. The British Government has rejected a parliamentary committee proposal to come up with a timetable for talks that would give British residents in Bermuda the right to vote. It said the Foreign Office did not plan to publish any such schedule but recognized the importance of a “reasonable qualifying process” to allow expatriates a place at the ballot box in overseas territories. In its response to a House of Commons committee report, the British Government also said timetables would be set for the introduction of public company ownership registers and that it planned to hold workshops on their implementation “in the coming months”. The Foreign Affairs Committee earlier this year recommended the launch of a consultation that would bring about a plan for a “pathway for all resident UK and British Overseas Territory citizens to be able to vote and hold elected office in territory”. Its report, Global Britain and the Overseas Territories: Resetting the Relationship, added that the Foreign Office should set a timetable for the process and “set a deadline for phasing out discriminatory elements of belongership, or its territory-specific equivalents”. The UK Government’s response was released by the committee today. It said: “The UK Government understands the committee’s concerns and continues to impress upon OT governments the importance of allowing people who have made their permanent home in the territories the ability to vote and engage fully in the community, but recognizes the desire of island communities to maintain their cohesion, hence the need for a reasonable qualifying process. We understand the OTs’ concerns, sensitivities and historical background on this issue.” The response added: “In the spirit of a relationship based upon partnership, we will continue to support and encourage consistent and open political engagement on belongership and its territory-specific equivalents, while respecting the fact that immigration decisions are primarily a matter for OT governments. The FCO does not plan at a future date to publish such a timetable.” The committee’s report pointed out that relationships between the UK and territories became strained in May last year when the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act was passed, setting out a deadline to produce a companies’ beneficial ownership register available to the public by the end of next year. It added that the committee regretted “public registers may not be published before 2023” and recommended that the foreign secretary, along with overseas territories’ governments, should — before the summer recess — lay out a detailed timetable for the publication of registers in each jurisdiction. In its reply, the British Government said it would prepare an Order in Council, which is effectively a decree from the UK, by the end of 2020 with overseas territories “expected to have fully functioning publicly accessible registers as soon as possible, and no later than the end of 2023 We are scoping the assistance the OTs will require and will be holding technical workshops and providing OTs with assistance over the coming months. This will support the OTs in developing publicly accessible registers. The FCO is not currently in a position to lay out detailed timetables for each territory and the timetable for implementing registers in each OT will differ depending on its fiscal position and business model. However, we will do so when this becomes clear.” The committee’s report also said the British Government should set a date for all overseas territories to have legalized same-sex marriage. Expressing its commitment to equal rights, the British Government added: “Our relationship with the overseas territories is based on partnership and therefore as policy on marriage law is an area of devolved responsibility it should be for the territories to decide and legislate on. As has been demonstrated by recent LGBT cases, the territories’ justice mechanisms and processes should be allowed the space to address these matters.” The Court of Appeal in November dismissed the Bermuda Government’s claim that former Chief Justice Ian Kawaley was wrong to strike down parts of the Domestic Partnership Act, which banned same-sex marriage. The Government later sought permission to take the case to the island’s final court of appeal, the Privy Council in London, which has not yet said if it would hear the matter. Tom Tugendhat, the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, said in response to the British Government’s feedback: “The concept of Global Britain, underpinned by shared values and commitments, lies at the heart of our foreign policy. All of the British overseas territories have their own constitutions but, rightly, share a bond with the UK and a pride in their deeply rooted British identities.” He believed the report made a number of recommendations that strengthened the bonds but by rejecting certain proposals, the British Government risked “weakening messages of core sympathy for each other’s core values”. Mr Tugendhat added: “We will hold the Government to their commitment to keep us informed of timetables relating to fully functioning publicly accessible registers for the OTs.”

2019. May 11. More than 20 soldiers from the British Army’s elite 24 Commando Royal Engineers are to spend a week helping to hone the disaster relief skills of the Royal Bermuda Regiment in the run-up to hurricane season. The UK soldiers will work with the RBR to share expertise and experience in humanitarian and disaster relief, known as HADR, before they join the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay when it docks in Bermuda next week. RFA Mounts Bay, a near-600ft logistics vessel, is scheduled to start a six-month deployment in the Caribbean region to provide rapid assistance in the event of hurricane strikes on UK Overseas Territories. The hurricane season runs from the start of June until the end of November. Captain Tom Booth of 24 Cdo RE, which provides engineering support for the Royal Marines 3 Commando Brigade, said the visit was arranged after RBR Sergeant Major Pete Ramm met soldiers from the unit at a planning meeting for this summer’s Exercise Tradewinds, a multi-national disaster relief exercise based in the Dominican Republic and St Vincent & the Grenadines. Captain Booth, 30, from Harrogate, Yorkshire, added: “The RBR seems like a very professional unit and takes its role very seriously, which is very promising. What we can do is give them a different look at how to do things – the RBR has far more experience than we have in hurricanes, but we have a different skill set and it’s always good to exchange knowledge. We were extremely keen to do it because we have HADR capabilities that we’re constantly developing and Pete was very keen to get the best training for the RBR. We have a wide skill set, from building bridges, demolishing bridges, laying mines, clearing mines, construction and water supply, which makes us ideally suited for the HADR role.” RFA Mounts Bay will also transport all the RBR equipment needed for Exercise Tradewinds, including trucks, to the Caribbean at no cost to Bermuda. The 21 soldiers, who arrived on Friday, will work with the RBR’s HADR specialists in B Company. RBR Private Va’shonte Wilson, 23, from St George’s Parish, said he looked forward to working with the British soldiers. He added: “I think there’s a lot we can learn from them and we can help them with hot weather conditions. We’re more used to a tropical environment, as well as hurricanes.” Soldiers from the RBR and 24 Cdo RE worked together in Operation Ruman, the 2017 relief effort in the Turks & Caicos Islands after they were devastated by Category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Captain Gordon Emmerson, 36, Commandant of the Junior Leaders programme, who will join RFA Mounts Bay for five weeks as the RBR’s liaison officer, said: “I’m very much looking forward to it. It’s a great opportunity for growth and development for me and for enhancement of the skills and experience of the RBR. At the end of this, we will be better equipped and with more knowledge, which we can pass on to our soldiers in the future to prepare us for HADR operations at home and overseas.” 24 Cdo RE Staff Sergeant Mohan Thapa, 40, from Devon, said he and the rest of the contingent were delighted to be in Bermuda. The former Royal Gurkha Rifles engineer, who transferred to the Commandos in 2010 and is a veteran of Afghanistan, added: “We were told when you wear your uniform here, you’re welcomed. We are over the moon to be working with the RBR – for 70 per cent of our soldiers, it’s their first time in the Caribbean region. We understand what the RBR is and what they proved they could do during Operation Ruman. I believe we will definitely work well with them and help them out with HADR capabilities.” Lance Corporal Matthew Hemmings, 29, from Newport, South Wales, said: “It’s a beautiful island – very picturesque. I’m looking forward to working with the RBR and hoping to swap some badges.” He added: “The RBR is obviously more experienced in dealing with hurricanes because of the constant threat of them and our only dealings with them are when we’re overseas. But we can help with the general running of operations, the control of situations and how to deal with unexpected problems in a methodical way. We also have a lot more specialist equipment.” Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley, the RBR’s Commanding Officer, said: “This is a golden opportunity for us to enhance our HADR capabilities. These UK soldiers are trained up and ready for deployment in the Caribbean. The end state will be both units will enhance their HADR knowledge and will continue to focus on unit development. We are on line for Bermuda first, but there may be a time when both our units are working hand in glove on HADR operations if the call comes and we are deployed anywhere in Caribbean after the approval process is completed.”

2019. May 8. Britain is to reduce the amount of information available publicly on its companies register after thousands complained their data could be used by fraudsters. The move is part of an overhaul of operations at Companies House, which oversees the UK registry of more than four million businesses, after claims that scammers and money launderers are taking advantage of flaws in the system. A report by anti-corruption group Global Witness found that Companies House did not make basic identity checks, meaning criminals could set up a UK company with false details. The reforms come as Britain is preparing to issue an Order in Council at the end of next year. British Overseas Territories, including Bermuda, will have to provide public beneficial ownership registers in operation by 2023. In a statement released on Sunday, the British Government said companies and their owners would be better protected from fraud under a slew of Companies House reforms. “In the last three years there have been almost 10,000 complaints to Companies House from people concerned about their personal details, with worries including fraud and use of personal details topping the list,” the statement added. Last year the register was accessed about 6.5 billion times. One of the proposed reforms aims to better protect personal information on the register. The British Government stated: “In a minority of cases the register can be misused to identify personal information, which can then be used for criminal purposes. Under these proposals, directors will be given additional rights over their information, for example personal home addresses, while ensuring this information is still available in a transparent manner to public authorities where appropriate.” The Bermuda Government has kept a beneficial ownership register for more than 70 years. It is not open to the public, but its contents are available to government authorities under international information-sharing agreements. David Burt, the Premier, has said Bermuda will be happy to comply with the British demands when public registers become “a global standard”. The Government has also argued that the Order in Council from the UK, if not approved by the Bermuda Parliament, would breach the island’s constitution. Global Witness’s report said the lack of ID verification at Companies House has helped UK companies to become “a conduit for scandal. In among the millions of companies and partnerships created in the last few decades, there are thousands that seemingly exist for no other purpose than to launder money, on a mind-boggling scale. Once incorporated through Companies House, these companies are able to control bank accounts, own property and move money around the world in much the same way as a private person.” Under the reforms, Companies House will get greater powers to verify and corroborate identities and submitted information. Global Witness found that about 8 per cent of UK companies declared no “person with significant control”, the description given to an owner of a stake of 25 per cent or more. According to Britain’s National Crime Agency, “there is a realistic possibility that the scale of money laundering impacting the UK annually is in the hundreds of billions of pounds”. On its website, the agency states: “Virtually all high-end money-laundering schemes, and several cash-based ones, are facilitated by the abuse of legitimate processes and services.” UK shell companies were found to have played a role in the Danske Bank and “Troika Laundromat” multibillion-dollar money-laundering scandals.

2019. May 3. MPs and senators were told they were on “a public platform” and should behave accordingly as part of talks in a two-day seminar with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Appropriate use of social media and conduct in the House of Assembly were among the topics covered in sessions lead by both Bermudian politicians and visiting experts. The final session was on Parliament and Social Media: Is it a menace or benefit for democracy and parliament? Dennis Lister, the Speaker of the House, explained: “We have to make sure that as elected officials there are standards we conduct ourselves under, whether that’s just simple interaction with people or whether that’s using social media. We have to remember that our life is no longer just a personal life, we’re on a public platform and everything that we do should recognize that and be respectful of the fact that we’re on a public platform.” He added: “It was not an attempt to limit their use of it, it was an attempt to make sure they know how to use it correctly and in a positive way because it can easily be used negatively and it won’t only just harm that individual. In a sense, it harms all of us as a body, in that we all get tainted by any negativity that goes around in our circle as leaders. So all of us have a responsibility to protect the sanctity of Parliament and the Senate.” The Speaker said all the island’s parliamentarians were invited to the seminar and most attended, although some were off-island on government business or were unable to be there for personal reasons. Mr Lister added after the seminar closed yesterday: “I’m the old man in the room of Parliament and in my 30 years in Parliament we have never done such a session to help show ways for us to improve how we function in Parliament, what’s the business of Parliament and what we should be benchmarking ourselves against. That was a key element for me. The other piece of it was to make sure that we get members to understand the relationship between our Parliament and the CPA” The CPA was invited to the island to help increase understanding of the concepts and standards that help to create parliamentary democracies. Akbar Khan, the secretary-general of the CPA, explained that the organisation, founded in 1911, aimed to “promote, develop and connect parliamentarians and their staff” to help them recognize good practice benchmarks and encourage parliamentary democracy. He said: “We’re a community of learning and parliamentarians are no different than any other professionals who are seeking to make a difference in public life. The public often forget, in my experience, that parliamentarians come into parliament without any particular qualification or experience about parliamentary life. We expect our parliamentarians to deliver to the highest standards serving their constituents, serving their community, serving their nation, but we don’t provide any form of training for that beforehand. That’s where the CPA comes in.” Shirley Osborne, the Speaker of the Montserrat Legislative Assembly and a CPA vice-chairwoman, said although politicians all over the world can become “excited” during debates, it was often because they were driven to make a change. She said: “Parliaments are filled with people who are passionate about something, who have a cause, who have a policy or something that they’re really intent on achieving for their constituents, so that comes out sometimes. One of the older speakers from my jurisdiction warned me ‘Parliament is not Sunday school’ and I think we need to remember that. Parliament is a place where there are adults who are trying to get something done and how they manage themselves in there is managed by standing orders and by the rules of civil conversation, civil society.” Mr Lister said his role was not to stifle debate, but to set boundaries for it. He added: “As long as members stay within those parameters I’ll sit back and be quiet but the moment you step over, I’m going to deal with that individual and bring them back into line.”

2019. April 29. A legal battle over Britain’s demand that Bermuda establishes a public beneficial ownership register will most likely be avoided. That is the view of Lord Tariq Ahmad, Britain’s Foreign Office Minister for the Overseas Territories, who said the UK was pushing for public registers to become an international standard by the 2023 — the same deadline being imposed on Bermuda. In an interview with The Royal Gazette, Lord Ahmad also explained why the UK had not used its veto power to keep Bermuda off the European Union tax blacklist at a meeting of European Union finance ministers last month. He also expressed confidence the island would come off the list next month. Lord Ahmad was speaking during his one-day visit to the island on Thursday when he met with government and business leaders and other members of the community. David Cameron, the former British Prime Minister, first called on the OTs to introduce public beneficial ownership registries some six years ago. The Bermuda Government has opposed that ever since, on the grounds that if other countries are not required to do it, it would cause the island economic damage. Also, the island has maintained a beneficial ownership register for more than 70 years and has tax information exchange agreements with many countries, including Britain. Britain will issue an Order in Council in December 2020, requiring OTs to establish public registers. The Bermuda Government has argued that the order would breach the Bermuda Constitution. Lord Ahmad said Britain’s Conservative government had been opposed to taking this course of action, but was obliged to do so after Parliament passed an amendment to the Sanctions and Money Laundering Bill. “It was a clear government view that we did not want this amendment to carry,” Lord Ahmad said. “It was defeated in the House of Lords where I was navigating this Bill. Regrettably, the opposition to the Government’s position, including from the Conservative benches, meant it was clear that the numbers would not have stacked up, which was why the amendment was carried in the House of Commons.” He said the British Government had to “respect the will of Parliament” and that meant issuing the Order in Council at the end of 2020 for any OT without a public beneficial ownership register by then. “We then have defined that timeline to 2023 which will give those territories time to establish a public register,” Lord Ahmad said. Mr Cameron had first voiced the idea of an international standard for public ownership registers in 2012. Lord Ahmad said: “I’m very cognizant of the consistent position Premier [David] Burt has taken that we shall establish a public register when we have an international standard. We have set a timeline that reflects our ambition and are lobbying to get an international standard by 2023.” On Bermuda’s constitutional argument, Lord Ahmad said: “There is undoubtedly a difference between the constitutions of different OTs. The Bermuda Government’s interpretation and advice is that they themselves would have to issue this Order in Council. As I said to the Premier, we do not believe we will get to the stage where we have to get into some sort of confrontation with Bermuda over legal opinion and advice. Certainly there is precedent for both positions in terms of recent history. We will work constructively with Bermuda to get a solution that is reflective of Bermuda’s desire.” He said Britain was setting up technical working groups to help each territory to meet the deadline. “We will ensure that as we work towards that 2023 deadline, we will do so in a very inclusive way, a way which is consensual, and Premier Burt was very accepting of that. If we continue working in this way, I don’t think we’ll get to the point where we have to test issues of a constitutional point, because I think that would be unhelpful to both sides.” In March, EU finance ministers voted to add Bermuda to the bloc’s list of non-cooperative jurisdictions on tax matters. Britain could have vetoed that decision, but did not. Asked why, Lord Ahmad described Britain’s traditionally cautious use of vetoes and added that the problem, related to Bermuda’s economic substance regulations, had been rapidly dealt with. “There was an anomaly which came to the fore very late in the day on the issue of intellectual property,” Lord Ahmad said. “That issue has been addressed.” He added: “Vetoes are there as a matter of last resort and they should be exercised at times when a resolution cannot be found. We regret that the resolution was not found in the first instance, but we have worked together with Bermuda to find a solution with the EU and the European Commission and I believe that’s been found. If you have the right to veto, exercise it with care and caution — that’s our view on vetoes wherever we are able to exercise them in the international community.” Lord Ahmad is the minister responsible for the United Nations and said Britain had not used its veto as one of the five permanent members of UN Security Council in decades. The last time that happened was in 1989. Britain had reached out to help its territories legislate for economic substance requirements, lending the diplomatic resources of the Foreign Office and the technical assistance from the UK Treasury “to ensure we could get all the territories in the right place”, Lord Ahmad said. So is he confident Bermuda will come off the list at the next meeting of EU finance ministers in May? “The issue that was identified by the commission has been addressed by Bermuda so I can see no reason why they would remain on the list,” he said. The island is frequently labelled as a “tax haven” around the world. Combating that perception requires a collective effort, from public and private sectors, Lord Ahmad said. “It’s very easy to label things,” he said. “Sometimes when you don’t want to delve into the detail, that’s an easy thing to do. That’s what’s happened with the Overseas Territories. We need to move away from the narrative that is not a picture of the reality.” He saw Bermuda having “a crucial role to play in terms of its business opportunities and offerings to the world” as well as a “member of the British family. Yes, there are some in the UK and Europe who need some insight and basic education on what our OTs represent,” Lord Ahmad said. “And the best people to sell that concept are the people themselves. It’s not the responsibility of the Bermuda Government alone; it’s also the responsibility of the businesses that define Bermuda today. I, as the minister responsible for the OTs, am seeking to do my bit in ensuring that we communicate and convey the correct nature of how our OTs, including Bermuda, operate and the fact they are seeking to build open, progressive economies and are committed to seeking new opportunities.” Reflecting on the modern relationship between Britain and its OTs, Lord Ahmad said it was “based on partnership”. He added: “This is not about us telling them what needs to be done. It’s about having practical and pragmatic working relationships, recognizing the needs and what can be delivered in each territory. There are times when we disagree, but when we do, we do it in a very respectful manner.” The OTs are “part of global Britain in 2019” and “bring incredible diversity in terms of people, resources, industries, perspectives — and that’s something that we in the UK value greatly,” the minister added. With Britain due to leave the EU, some in Bermuda are concerned that the island will lose its voice at the EU table and that the Brexit agreement will fail to regard the island’s interests. “Brexit will change the way Britain is defined within the European context,” Lord Ahmad said. “We still will have strong and important relationships with our European partners. When I say that, that includes our OTs. We have represented the interests of the OTs in terms of their access to EU markets. Whatever relationship and final agreement we have with the European Union, it will reflect the priorities that have been identified with the OTs.”

2019. April 28. Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition, said the protection of Bermuda’s children had been discussed with Lord Ahmad. The British Foreign Office Minister for the Overseas Territories met with Mr Cannonier and other members of the One Bermuda Alliance during his visit to the island last week. Mr Cannonier said: “Lord Ahmad spoke to the issues of the Children Act and made it very clear that Bermuda needs to have a plan in place that is comprehensive and which speaks to the vulnerability of children. “He was very aware that vulnerable children in our court system were not receiving the support and guidance from litigation guardians despite the Children Act mandating this protection. He brought up that it was a human rights issue. We echoed his sentiment and I presume he also raised this issue with the Premier.” Mr Cannonier said the OBA was concerned that the proposed amendment to the Children Act would reduce protection for children. He said that he and Scott Pearman, the OBA’s spokesman on legal affairs, had also met the Attorney-General to discuss the issue earlier this week. Mr Cannonier added: “I am confident that there is a shared concern with the AG that we must protect the rights of our vulnerable children.” The issue of Bermuda’s blacklisting was also discussed at the meeting with Lord Ahmad, Mr Cannonier said. He added: “Based on Lord Ahmad’s sentiments, it is very much hoped that Bermuda will come off the blacklist next month. Lord Ahmad recognizes Bermuda as a well-regulated and managed jurisdiction and said the blacklisting was unfortunate.” Mr Cannonier said the accessibility to registers of beneficial ownership was also discussed and that Bermuda, which has had a list since the 1940s, was ahead of the UK and the EU. Lord Ahmad also met David Burt, the Premier, and other officials during his visit to Bermuda last Thursday.

2019. April 28. Bermuda is soon to host an international parliamentary seminar intended to help lawmakers broaden their understanding of the legislative process. Dennis Lister, Speaker of the House, announced that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association had been invited to Bermuda for the seminar, which will be held on Wednesday and Thursday. Along with local parliamentarians and senators, attendees will include Angelo Farrugia, Speaker of the Malta House of Representatives, Shirley Osborne, Speaker of the Montserrat Legislative Assembly, Jacqui Sampson-Meiguel, clerk of the Trinidad and Tobago House of Parliament and Paul Belisle, former clerk of the Canadian Senate. CPA members traveling to Bermuda from the UK will include the CPA secretary-general, Akbar Khan. Mr Lister said: “This seminar and training programme will provide opportunities for Members of Parliament and Senators to learn more and deepen their understanding of parliamentary processes. When I took on the role of Speaker, one of my objectives was to ensure ongoing training was established for Bermuda’s parliamentarians. This training is one of several that has taken place over the last two years.” He added that the seminar will include sessions on the separation of powers and proper practice and procedure in the House.

2019. April 26. The heroic performance of soldiers from Australia and New Zealand in the ill-fated First World War Gallipoli campaign was marked at the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s Warwick Camp yesterday. Citizens of both countries and Bermuda residents joined together for a sunrise ceremony to honour the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, the Anzacs, who took part in the unsuccessful attempt to invade Turkey, a German ally, on April 25, 1915. Lord Ahmad, the UK Minister for the Overseas Territories, was among the VIP guests at the ceremony, which also included John Rankin, the Governor, Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, US Consul General Constance Dierman and Imam Bassim Muwaakkil of Masjid Muhammad Mosque in Hamilton. Lord Ahmad told the crowd on the lawn of the Officers’ Mess: “It’s a huge privilege for me to be here in Bermuda for the first time and indeed a great honour to join you in this poignant service of remembrance. Today we stand side by side in quiet reflection in prayer just as our countries’ servicemen stood side by side at dawn on April 25.” Lord Ahmad added that George Samson, a Scottish Royal Naval Reserve sailor who won the Victoria Cross, the highest UK award for gallantry, at Gallipoli was buried in Bermuda after he died of pneumonia in 1923. Seaman Samson, who was later promoted to Petty Officer, rejoined the Merchant Navy after the war and was one of six VC winners among the crew of HMS River Clyde, a landing ship that was beached at Gallipoli. Lord Ahmad also paid tribute to the 76 Bermudian servicemen, some of whom fought at Gallipoli, who died in the First World War. He added the commemoration of the Anzac sacrifice for freedom and shared values was particularly appropriate in the wake of terrorist attacks on mosques in New Zealand in March and last weekend’s Easter Day bombing of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. Mr Caines added that the ceremony allowed people of all backgrounds and nationalities to remember those who had lost their lives “not in war, but in places of worship” as well as those who died in conflicts. He said the service represented an “enduring commitment and belief that that which binds us is much more powerful than that which divides us”. The dignitaries, who also included Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley, and representatives of New Zealand and Australia, laid wreaths at one of the RBR’s 25-pounder guns before the Last Post was sounded. Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley, the RBR’s Commanding Officer, said afterwards the RBR had supported Anzac Day for two years. He added: “It’s quite fitting to see the 25-pounder gun with the wreaths around it at daybreak, which is when the soldiers went into battle at Gallipoli. We are honored to be able to help remember them and others who have lost their lives, whether in war or through acts of terrorism.”

 2019. April 26. Citizen rights such as the ability to vote are best dealt with by the Bermuda Government, a visiting politician said yesterday. Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the UK Foreign Office Minister for the Overseas Territories, added that the extension of the right to vote to Britons and other UK nationals resident in Bermuda was one that the island needed to look at “very carefully”. Lord Ahmad said a Foreign Affairs Committee report that recommended the extension of the franchise in Overseas Territories had attracted “a lot of publicity and comment”. He added: “First and foremost, the FAC is not part of Her Majesty’s government. One shouldn’t be alarmist about these issues, it’s a recommendation of a committee. And like all recommendations of the committee, the UK Government looks at those recommendations and will respond accordingly. There will be an official response in due course.” Lord Ahmad, on his first visit to the island, was speaking after a meeting with David Burt, the Premier. Mr Burt said in February that Bermuda would fight a “tone deaf” recommendation made by the FAC to the House of Commons that British residents on the island should be granted the right to vote. The committee report, Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the Relationship, said: “While we recognise that the OTs are small communities with unique cultural identities, we do not accept that there is any justification to deny legally resident British Overseas Territory and UK citizens the right to vote and to hold elected office. This elevates one group of British people over another and risks undermining the ties that bind the UK and the OTs together in one global British family.” The recommendation was one of 14 made by the group, which also covered public beneficial ownership registries, same-sex marriage laws and access to treatment by the British National Health Service. Mr Burt said that he and Lord Ahmad had discussed passports, economic substance regulations, child protection and public registers of beneficial ownership. Lord Ahmad said that same-sex marriage had also been discussed and that the UK’s position was well defined. He added: “We have legislated for that within the UK. In terms of the matter here in Bermuda, I know that is something which is going through due legal process, and I think that has to be respected. The United Kingdom’s position on this is very clear, and we will continue to stress that in all our bilateral discussions as I did this morning with Premier Burt.” He dismissed the suggestion that the relationship between Britain and its Overseas Territories had broken down. He added: “There are points of difference, and it’s important that we have a discussion on those points of difference and agree a way forward.” Lord Ahmad said Britain’s relationship with its territories was “vibrant, open, but productive and progressive”. He added that the relationship that the UK had with Bermuda and the other territories was “part of what defines modern Britain today. It is valued, it is one we respect, and one of which is steeped in history. I also believe there is a very positive future and progress to be made in developing that relationship.”

2019. April 25. Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the British Foreign Office Minister for the Overseas Territories, will visit Bermuda today. His visit is expected to reaffirm the strong UK-Bermuda relationship. Speaking ahead of the visit, Lord Ahmad said: “The UK remains committed to strong and positive relationships with the Overseas Territories now and following Brexit. We will continue to work in partnership with Bermuda in support of its security and prosperity. I look forward to engaging with its government, business leaders and members of civil society during my first visit to the island.” During his brief visit, Lord Ahmad will meet members of the Government, including David Burt, the Premier, the Attorney-General Kathy Lynn Simmons and Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition. He will also meet business leaders, members of civil society and officials responsible for ensuring the island’s disaster preparedness and maritime security. A government spokeswoman said the meetings would provide an opportunity to engage on a range of matters relating to the island’s economy and opportunities for future growth, including in the post-Brexit context. The foreign office minister will also be briefed on the capacity for the Royal Bermuda Regiment and Bermuda Police Service to assist fellow Overseas Territories should a disaster occur. In his meeting with civil society, Lord Ahmad will discuss Bermuda’s implementation of International Human Rights obligations and the challenges facing vulnerable groups.

2019. March 20. Britain will be pressured to sort out problems with passport codes on Bermudian passports printed in the UK, the Cabinet Office minister said on Monday. Walton Brown earlier said he hoped there would be progress on the passport problem, which has caused difficulty for some Bermudians entering the United States from outside the island. Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the shadow health minister, asked for an update on passports during a debate on the immigration budget in the House of Assembly. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, explained that Mr Brown was dealing with the problem. Ms Gordon-Pamplin said that difficulties arose after Britain took over responsibility for the printing of Bermudian passports and coding used on the travel documents was changed. This caused problems for some Bermudians with UK-printed passports who wanted to enter the United States from jurisdictions outside the island. Ms Gordon-Pamplin said: “The reason that this difference is important is because there are special arrangements between Bermuda and the United States that the UK does not have, so while it may not be a problem to them to say that ‘we’re issuing this in Great Britain, therefore that’s the code that you get’, it causes inconvenience for Bermuda travelers when we don’t have every customs and border control system in the United States recognizing this preferential treatment.” She added: “I believe it’s vital to us as a country, it’s vital that we get something done.” Mr Caines replied later: “This is being handled at the Cabinet Office by Walton Brown. He’s working closely with HMPO; the minister will be traveling to the UK in the not-too-distant future to have discussions with the relevant people on the passport codes.” David Burt, the Premier, and Mr Brown addressed Joint Ministerial Council meetings in London about the need to resolve the problem last December. Mr Burt said then: “We met with officials from HM Passport Office and left with assurances that this important matter will be addressed. Minister Brown and I will continue to push until an acceptable solution is in place.” Mr Brown added later: “They seemed to have a more sympathetic ear to our position, and I am hopeful there will be progress made.”

2019. March 8. A British parliamentary committee said yesterday it was regrettable that the Premier did not attend an inquiry that led to a report he claimed was a bid to “erode the constitutional rights of Bermudians”. The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said elected leaders and representatives of most other Overseas Territories spoke when it heard evidence about relationships with the Britain. Premier David Burt was listed among those due to appear at a session in December, when he and Walton Brown, the Cabinet Office minister, were in London, but he said later their presence was unnecessary. In notice of a motion against the report this week, he asked the British Government to reject it. The FAC’s proposals included voting rights for British citizens in Bermuda and legalisation of same-sex marriage. A spokesman for the UK committee said: “While the Premier disagreed with some of the conclusions and recommendations in the committee’s report, we are grateful to him for engaging with the issues raised. He continued: “We were sorry that the Premier and the Bermudian representative in the UK were unable to speak to the committee before we published our report, as the elected leaders and representatives of most of the other Overseas Territories did.” The Royal Gazette asked the committee if it expected its report to spark independence debates in the UK’s Overseas Territories. The spokesman said: “This is a matter for the people of the Overseas Territories. Nonetheless, while the Premier and Bermuda’s representative in the UK did not contribute to our inquiry in person, we spoke to the elected leaders and representatives of numerous territories, who made clear that their attachment to the UK is deeply rooted and that there is more appetite to reform the UK’s relationships with the Overseas Territories than there is to sever ties.” Mr Burt claimed on Monday that committee members were not uninformed about the island. He added: “They have been to Bermuda; they are persons that have interacted with our government on many different occasions.” Mr Burt said then: “They view Bermuda as a province of the United Kingdom that they can govern and legislate for from Westminster.” The FAC spokesman replied that some members may have visited in the past, but the committee was unable to travel to Bermuda during its inquiry. He said they took as much evidence from as many Overseas Territory leaders and representatives as possible and they had made it clear that they were all proud of their autonomy. The spokesman added: “The committee respects this and recognizes that territories like Bermuda have centuries-old political institutions. However, if the bonds uniting the British family of nations and territories are to remain strong, we believe that we must all commit to shared values and strive for the highest standards on fundamental issues like human rights and equality.” The committee said it expected the Foreign Office to “engage seriously” with the report — titled Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the Relationship — and respond within two months. The committee’s inquiry was launched last July and the group made a total of 14 recommendations. The report said that relationships between the UK and its Overseas Territories became strained last May when the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act was passed, which had a deadline to produce a public beneficial ownership of companies register by the end of next year. It concluded that a detailed timetable for the lists should be laid out by this summer. A letter from Mr Burt included in written evidence to the inquiry said the Government’s position on the issue was “well known”. He wrote: “Bermuda is committed to meeting any properly adopted, global standard for such matters and will work with the UK Government as necessary once such a standard is promulgated.” A Foreign Office spokeswoman said on Tuesday: “As set out clearly in the Act, we will prepare draft legislation by the end of 2020, with all Overseas Territories expected to have fully functioning public registers in place by the end of 2023. This is part of the Government’s call for all countries to make public registers the global norm by 2023. Our approach both respects the will of Parliament and delivers this in a way that is fair and proportionate to all our OTs.” Mr Brown said in December, while he and the Premier were in London, that a meeting in the city with the committee was not on the pair’s agenda. He explained: “We do not feel that we have to answer to the FCO, and so we did not appear before them.” A committee member confirmed that there was “no compulsion” to attend. Mr Burt said then: “Bermuda has regular, direct engagement with the UK’s officials and ministers and, as such, Bermuda’s position on a wide variety of issues is well known and familiar to actual key decision-makers in London. The London Office is staffed by an expert team who provide leadership and daily interaction at the highest levels of the UK Government. I informed the Governor before leaving Bermuda for London that I would not be appearing before the committee.” His motion, which has still to be debated, asked MPs to reject “the unwarranted and unjustified attempt at intervention into Bermuda’s domestic affairs” and called on the UK Government to reject “the report and its retrograde recommendations”. Mr Burt said today: “Our position on the recommendations of the report is clear and on these issues Bermuda is of one accord. We will stand by our principles and our Constitution which states that only persons that possess Bermuda status can vote and hold elected office in Bermuda.”

2019. March 5. Premier David Burt rejected talk of independence yesterday as he asked the British Government to dismiss a report that recommended that British citizens resident in Bermuda should have voting rights. However, the Premier warned the stance on independence could change. Mr Burt said that Bermuda had a constitutional relationship with the UK. He added: “There are certain persons inside the House of Commons that believe that we should have a different relationship and we should serve as a province of the United Kingdom. If the 50-year settlement between our constitutional affairs will change, then I think the people of Bermuda will have a different discussion.” Mr Burt said that Bermuda was in “new and dangerous territory”. He added: “From the perspective of the Government, we are going to stand by our principles. We are going to stand by the Constitution which we currently have, our constitution settlement, which says that the UK cannot legislate for our own affairs. And if the United Kingdom changes that position, then we’ll have decisions to make here.” Mr Burt was speaking as he called on the UK Government to reject the Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the Relationship report. The report, created by the House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee, made 14 recommendations. These included the mandatory publication of a beneficial ownership of companies register, the right to vote for UK citizens resident in Bermuda, and legalisation of same-sex marriage. Mr Burt gave notice of a motion against the report in the House of Assembly. He said that members of the committee responsible for the report were not uninformed about the island. Mr Burt added: “They have been to Bermuda, they are persons that have interacted with our government on many different occasions.” He said he believed the committee members had a different perspective of the island. Mr Burt explained: “They view Bermuda as a province of the United Kingdom that they can govern and legislate for from Westminster. We do not agree with that perspective, and we are going to make it very clear in this House, and I expect to receive unanimous support on this particular motion, that it is for us to make our own laws. And if they want to be colonial, then they need to go back to a different era. It is not for today.” Mr Burt said Bermuda’s position on beneficial ownership was “a bipartisan one, endorsed by successive governments. We will adopt the global standard for a public register of beneficial ownership once one is implemented.” Mr Burt said the motion would “signal the political unanimity” in Bermuda. He added: “This united front will convey to the UK Government that on these issues, Bermuda is of one accord.” Mr Burt said that Bermuda’s designation as an Overseas Territory was “a cute way of saying a colony”. He added that the island had enjoyed a relationship where Britain “respected our ability, and our constitution, insofar as we have the ability to make our own laws” for 50 years. But the Premier said: “It seems as though that view in the United Kingdom is changing. So what we want to do is make it as clear as possible, so that they understand the view of Bermuda and then the ball is in their court. I look forward to leading the debate on this motion and tracing for the people of Bermuda, and reminding some, and perhaps informing others, of the history of voting rights in this country, and setting out in the clearest possible terms possible that Bermuda, in this 21st century, will not be turned back to the worst excesses of what we thought was a bygone colonial era.” The news came as leaders of the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey were in London as a cross-party amendment came before the Houses of Parliament to force the Crown Dependencies to start a public register of beneficial ownership. The dependencies complained the amendment was unconstitutional and the British Government delayed the vote.

2019. February 28. The top-ranking UK military officer in the US said yesterday the Royal Bermuda Regiment boosted the country’s regional profile and was an invaluable resource for natural disasters at home and abroad. Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Parker, the UK Defence Attaché and Head of the Defence Staff in America, added: “Having the Regiment adds very much to Bermuda’s prestige. It’s a very important capability and something Bermuda can be very proud of — that ability to be able to assist other countries in times of need.” The former frontline Royal Air Force fighter pilot was speaking on a three-day whirlwind visit to the island to meet the latest intake of recruits and discuss how the island can forge closer links to the British military with Governor John Rankin, the Government and senior RBR officers. Air Marshal Parker, who is based at the British Embassy in Washington, visited Recruit Camp soldiers at Hog Bay, Southampton, where the island’s newest troops spent their first nights in the field, before he toured Warwick Camp and got an overview of the RBR’s role and how it worked with other services like the Bermuda Police. He said: “The recruits all looked highly enthusiastic — all volunteers, of course. They looked like they were having a great time and learning a lot. I was also incredibly impressed by the quality of the Non-Commissioned Officers taking them through their training package." The Defence Attaché earlier discussed how the RBR is to take over maritime security duties from the police service and its reorganization from an infantry role to widen its ability to serve the public after a strategic review. Air Marshal Parker said: “The Regiment is an outstandingly important capability for Bermuda. I can see a huge amount of potential for the Regiment in all of the environments, not just the land environment, but the sea environment.” The former Typhoon jet pilot added that Bermuda could also consider developing an air capability through the use of low-cost drones for search and rescue and security duties. Air Marshal Parker said: “It’s been interesting and encouraging to see the Regiment is keeping up with the times and critically evaluating its role and how it needs to adapt to a new environment and the needs of the island. Hopefully, we have been able to assist in some ways with the review. We are always very keen to help with the Regiment and with the service it provides to Bermuda. People may argue what has caused it, but we are undoubtedly subject to climate change. Hurricane seasons are becoming more prolonged and violent, it seems. Set against that change, it’s very important to build networks and for everybody to be able to contribute what they can in overcoming the carnage which can be caused by tropical hurricanes. I know Bermuda is engaged in these sorts of initiatives further south in the Caribbean.” Royal Bermuda Regiment Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley said the visit was a good example of using the island’s contacts to boost training and efficiency. He added: “The Defence Attaché represents one of our first ports of call when we need assistance, guidance or advice. Hopefully, he was impressed with what we’re capable of doing with limited resources — the funding available, the availability of part-time soldiers and limited training facilities. The recruits and more senior soldiers were surprised and pleased that a two star officer had time in his busy schedule to visit them. Air Marshal Parker engaged with them and talked to them on a personal level, which they appreciated.”

2019. February 22. Bermuda will fight a recommendation to the House of Commons that British residents on the island should get to vote, the Premier vowed yesterday. David Burt said the proposal was a “tone-deaf” idea that ignored the history of voting rights in Bermuda. He was speaking after the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee published its report, Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the Relationship . An inquiry was launched by the group last July and it made a total of 14 recommendations that also covered public beneficial ownership registers, same-sex marriage laws and access to treatment by the British National Health Service. The committee report said: “While we recognize that the OTs are small communities with unique cultural identities, we do not accept that there is any justification to deny legally resident British Overseas Territory and UK citizens the right to vote and to hold elected office. This elevates one group of British people over another and risks undermining the ties that bind the UK and the OTs together in one global British family.” The committee added the British government should start a consultation with territories “to agree a plan to ensure that there is a pathway for all resident UK and British Overseas Territory citizens to be able to vote and hold elected office in territory”. Mr Burt said: “The right to vote is perhaps the most highly valued right in a democracy. To suggest that non-Bermudians should have the right to determine the direction of our country via the ballot box ignores the history of voting rights in Bermuda and is a tone-deaf recommendation which we will strenuously resist.” The document was submitted to the House of Commons and the British Government has eight weeks to respond. Mr Burt said: “The Government of Bermuda is reviewing the report and will be ready to address any issues that may arise.” He added: “Separately, we are focused on preparing Bermuda for what may emerge as a result of Brexit, a situation which can best be described as evolving daily.”  The report said that relationships between the UK and territories became strained last May when the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act was passed, which set out a deadline to produce a companies’ beneficial ownership register available to the public by the end of next year. The committee added: “Some OTs say that this will impact their financial services sectors and make them less competitive. We believe it is a matter of national security, because there is evidence to suggest that money tied to autocratic regimes has been connected to OT-registered companies and that considerations of competitiveness cannot prevent action.” The report said: “We cannot wait until public registers are a global norm and we cannot let considerations of competitiveness prevent us from taking action now.” It added the committee regretted “public registers may not be published before 2023”. The report said: “The Foreign Secretary, in co-operation with the elected governments of the OTs, should lay out before the summer recess a clear and detailed timetable for the publication of registers of beneficial ownership in each OT.” Mr Burt, who wrote a letter included in written evidence to the inquiry, said yesterday: “Bermuda is committed to meeting any properly adopted, global standard for such matters and will work with the UK Government as necessary once such a global standard is agreed.” Nicola Barker, a British expert on human rights and constitutional law, admitted the suggestion of a “pathway” for British people to vote was likely to stir up strong emotions. She highlighted the opposition to the Pathways to Status legislation that the former One Bermuda Alliance administration attempted to table in 2016. That was designed to make it easier for long-term residents to gain permanent residency and status, but the Bill was withdrawn after days of demonstrations shut down Parliament. Dr Barker said yesterday that from what she had seen of “the controversy from the last time around, it doesn’t seem particularly sensible to me, or the right thing for the UK to do” to impose such a rule, “if it came to that”. She added: “The thing that struck me in reading the report is really how little representation there was from Bermuda, and I think that’s really unfortunate because there are a couple of things in the report that don’t necessarily ring quite accurately in relation to Bermuda. The report recognizes that the UK government should allow residents of Overseas Territories to access treatment on the NHS if they can’t get treatment in their home country. Most Overseas Territories’ citizens are given free medical treatment in the UK under a quota system. Dr Barker said: “It’s not mentioned in the report what Bermuda’s quota is.” The report said the British Government should consider options for the removal of quotas on the number of people from the Territories that can use NHS services. The committee also found that the British Government should examine how the Foreign Office managed its responsibilities for the Territories. The report added: “The OTs’ needs extend far beyond the FCO and their voices must be heard elsewhere in Whitehall.” The committee suggested consideration of a secondment programme between British and territories’ government departments. Same-sex marriages were highlighted as “points of friction”. The report said: “It is time for all OTs to legalize same-sex marriage and for the UK Government to do more than simply support it in principle. It must be prepared to step in.” Mr Burt declined to comment on same-sex marriage yesterday as a case is still to be heard by the Privy Council in London. A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We will carefully consider the report from the Foreign Affairs Committee and respond fully in due course. We take our responsibilities to the Overseas Territories extremely seriously and are committed to assisting them in a range of areas, from building strong economies, to improving standards of governance and protecting vulnerable groups, to providing support to help protect the environment.”

2019. February 18. A clerk from the British Parliament, who spent two weeks on the island working with Bermuda’s Public Accounts Committee, returned to the UK on Saturday. Stephen McGinness, a Clerk of the House of Commons’ PAC, visited to help the Bermuda committee with planning and reporting its findings. Dennis Lister Jr, the Speaker of the House, said the trip followed a visit by the Bermuda PAC to the UK in January 2018 to “go through some exercises and training in rules, responsibilities and functions”. Mr Lister told Dr McGinness, who was in the House of Assembly, that he was “sure you can testify to your colleagues that it has been a very worthy exercise”.

2019.  February 5. A clerk from the British Parliament has been seconded to Bermuda to work on financial oversight with the Public Accounts Committee. Stephen McGinness, the clerk of the House of Commons PAC, will work alongside the group whose job is to look at how public cash is spent and scrutinize value for money. A press release from Westminster said the Bermuda PAC would welcome Mr McGinness from February 4 to 15. It is part of the UK Overseas Territories Project, a three-year project on public financial oversight involving the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK, the UK National Audit Office and the Government Internal Audit Agency. The release said the move would “provide bespoke face-to-face assistance in the preparation of inquiry planning, public reporting, and communicating findings with the aim of strengthening the capacity of the committee”. Mr McGinness said: “With 20 years in the UK Parliament, and eight as a parliamentary clerk, I hope I will be able to bring my experience and expertise to assist in the day-to-day running of the Bermuda Public Accounts Committee. I also intend to build long-lasting relationships with colleagues in Bermuda that can continue to support the work of the PAC as well as my own work in the UK.” The UK Overseas Territories Project has organized previous clerk attachments to PACs in Anguilla, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, St Helena and Turks and Caicos Islands, drawing on expertise from the legislative bodies of Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Wales and Jersey. The release also said PAC chairwoman Patricia Gordon-Pamplin will attend the UKOTP Oversight of Public Finances Forum in Miami in March. The forum will explore progress in Territories, address common challenges faced by PACs, internal and external audit agencies and explore further potential development of public financial oversight.

2019. January 12. A British attempt to force overseas territories to produce public registers of beneficial company ownership has sparked a war of words in the UK’s House of Commons. Dame Margaret Hodge, a Labour MP who helped to lead a cross-party alliance of MPs that won a promise from the Conservative government that it would introduce an order to enforce the requirement, claimed the lists were expected to be in place by 2020. But that has been delayed by three years. Dame Margaret spoke out after Lord Ahmad, the UK minister responsible for overseas territories, told a foreign affairs committee hearing last month that any required territory without a public register by next year, would be issued with an Order in Council instructing it to have such a list in operation by 2023. The Guardian newspaper reported that Dame Margaret said: “This new timetable is a sleight of hand and an attempt to ignore the clear will of Parliament. It was clear not that that order in council should be introduced in 2020, but the public register. We will have to consider what steps are taken to restore what was intended.” Chris Bryant, a Labour member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, added: “This timetable is not what Parliament thought they were getting when they discussed this. The Government has dragged its heels on this issue and this seems yet another unjustified delay. It’s as if the Government has become the department for procrastination.” Bermuda has resisted calls for a public register of beneficial ownership and David Burt, the Premier, earlier said the Government’s position was that the island would implement such a list “when it is a global standard”. The island has maintained a register of beneficial ownership — available to authorities in other countries on request — for decades but it is not open to the public. At a Foreign Affairs oral evidence session last month, Lord Ahmad said it was up to the UK Government to make an Order in Council but explained there were different constitutional arrangements across the Overseas Territories. He added: “For example, in Bermuda there is a legal issue there whereby ... the Order In Council may well have to be instituted by the territory itself.” Lord Ahmad admitted it was unlikely public registers of beneficial ownership would become the global standard within four years. He told the session: “In terms of, from a global perspective, whether there will be a level playing field by 2023, as I said, that is an objective — an ambition we’ve set ourselves. But, in my personal view, whether we will see every territory across the world having public registers by 2023, I don’t think that will be the case.”

2018. December 7. Bermuda’s Premier and Cabinet Office minister were not required to appear at a British Foreign Affairs Select Committee session to examine Britain’s relationship with its Overseas Territories, a member of the UK's all-party group said last night. Ian Murray, a Labour MP, emphasized there was “no compulsion to attend” on David Burt or Walton Brown for the Wednesday meeting. The discussions were part of an inquiry into the future of Overseas Territories in relation to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Mr Murray, the MP for Edinburgh South in Scotland, added: “We invited all the participants to attend if they so wished and some took it up and others didn’t.” Mr Burt had been listed among those due to appear for the session, which heard from eight Overseas Territories leaders. Neither Mr Burt nor Mr Brown went to the meeting — but last night the Premier said that it had been unnecessary. Mr Burt said: “Bermuda has regular, direct engagement with the UK’s officials and ministers and, as such, Bermuda’s position on a wide variety of issues is well known and familiar to actual key decision-makers in London. The London Office is staffed by an expert team who provide leadership and daily interaction at the highest levels of the UK Government. I informed the Governor before leaving Bermuda for London that I would not be appearing before the committee.” The UK Parliament’s website said the session with the Overseas Territories was the first in “more than a decade”. Bermuda got a brief mention when Sharlene Cartwright- Robinson, the Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, was asked if the territory planned to emulate Bermuda in permitting same-sex marriages. The committee received written evidence from across the territories in September. Bermuda-related submissions included statements from George Fergusson, a former Governor, Bob Richards, a former Minister of Finance, as well as Saul Dismont and Peter Sanderson, both lawyers.

2018. December 6. Bermuda snubbed a meeting with British parliamentarians in London yesterday. The Foreign Affairs Select Committee had invited Overseas Territories to give evidence in an inquiry into the relationship with the Foreign Office. Walton Brown, the Cabinet Office minister, said the meeting was “not on our agenda”, which included David Burt, the Premier, who was in London before he went to Brussels. Mr Brown added: “We do not feel that we have to answer to the FCO, and so we did not appear before them.” A Government spokeswoman later confirmed that Bermuda “declined to give evidence because the Government does not report to the British Parliament”. Bermuda’s record of disclosure of the beneficial ownership of companies also came up for discussion during the trip to Britain. Mr Brown attended a round of meetings on beneficial ownership at Lancaster House in London yesterday, organized by Tariq Ahmad, the UK junior minister responsible for the Overseas Territories. He said that Bermuda was “very clear that we have always upheld the principles of disclosing ownership of certain companies”. But he added that there had been “concern” among some of the OT representatives at the UK’s drive to push for public registers of beneficial ownership as the global standard by 2023. However, Mr Brown said that the possibility of “constitutional overreach by the UK Government into the Overseas Territories” had not featured as a concern for Bermuda. He was speaking as he and Mr Burt prepared to travel back to Bermuda today. Mr Brown said he was also optimistic about the island’s bid to return the printing and issuing of Bermuda passports to the island. Passports were taken over by Britain last year and a new code on the documents has caused problems for some Bermudians traveling through the United States from outside the island. Mr Brown said: “They seemed to have a more sympathetic ear to our position, and I am hopeful there will be progress made.”

2018. December 5. The Premier has “forcefully” called on British authorities to resolve problems for Bermudian travelers after the printing of Bermuda passports was shifted to the UK. A government spokeswoman said David Burt and Walton Brown, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, addressed Joint Ministerial Council meetings in London about the “urgent need to resolve Bermuda’s passport issue”. Britain took responsibility for the printing of Bermuda passports last year on security grounds. But the coding for the travel documents was changed, which has hampered travel for Bermudians with UK-printed passports who want to enter the United States from jurisdictions outside the island. Mr Burt said that the meeting today had “moved us closer to resolving the longstanding problem of Bermuda passports being printed and issued in the United Kingdom”. He added: “We met with officials from HM Passport Office and left with assurances that this important matter will be addressed. Minister Brown and I will continue to push until an acceptable solution is in place.” Switching Bermuda passports to the GBR code has meant travelers have been told that they need to have a US Electronic System for Travel Authorization. But Bermudian travelers are permitted to enter America without an Esta under an agreement with the US.

Bermuda passport of a registered Bermudian

Bermuda passport of a registered Bermudian

2018. December 4. Premier David Burt sat down with the UK Overseas Territories Association yesterday as part of a series of meetings in London. Mr. Burt said online that the meeting, held in Westminster, was “critical for Bermuda”. The association was set up to promote the interests of the Overseas Territories in Britain and encourage co-operation among the jurisdictions. Mr Burt also met the Britain-Bermuda All Party Parliamentary Group at the House of Lords to update members on “the latest developments in Bermuda”.

2018. November 23. Premier David Burt will host a reception for Bermudians in Nottingham during his upcoming trip to Britain. The Premier will be at Pitcher & Piano, The Unitarian Church, High Pavement, on December 2, from 3pm to 5.30pm. The event will be the first of its kind in the region and will be open to Bermudians studying and living in Britain. It will come after a similar event at Clubhouse, St James’s Square, London, on Monday, from 6.30pm to 10pm, which has already been announced. 

2018. November 16. As Brexit looms for Britain, with question marks hanging over a deal over its divorce from Europe, the Bermuda Government stated last night that nothing would change in the island’s relationship. David Burt, the Premier, is scheduled to hear more on Brexit this month during a trip to London. It came as an unpopular draft deal for the withdrawal from the European Union sparked political turmoil yesterday for Theresa May, the British Prime Minister. May’s Cabinet was beset by ministerial resignations, and the pound dropped against the dollar and the euro. A tentative Brexit deal would include a 21-month transition period after the exit date of March 29, 2019. But May’s draft agreement with Europe appeared to have slim hopes of winning approval in the British Parliament — raising the specter of a no-deal exit, which would scupper any transition. British trade would be subject to EU tariffs and cross-border travel would likely revert to the days of Customs and passport checks. With Bermuda’s legal and business framework tethered to Britain, its departure from Europe has been closely watched. However, a government spokeswoman said: “Any Brexit deal or a no Brexit deal scenario will have no impact on the constitutional relationship between Britain and its Overseas Territories. Any protection of citizen’s rights under the withdrawal agreement will equally apply to Bermudians with British Citizenship.” She added: “The Premier will be attending the Joint Ministerial Council in London later this month and as part of the agenda for those meetings will be hearing directly from the Prime Minister or a representative of Her Majesty’s Government on Brexit.”

2018. October 17. Closer links between Bermuda and the British Parliament would “cause unease”, the former Governor of Bermuda said yesterday. George Fergusson was asked by a UK parliamentary committee to consider the relationship between other countries and their former colonies and if these arrangements would be appropriate for Britain’s relationships with its Overseas Territories. Mr Fergusson, who was Governor of Bermuda from 2012 to 2016, told the Foreign Affairs Committee it was possible to “envisage a much more orderly, logical and accountable relationship” and highlighted France, the Netherlands and the United States as possible models. He added: “Most of that would involve direct representation to the House of Commons and that has some benefits — it means that the territories could call to account the relevant secretaries of state and it addresses a bit of a democratic deficit.” Mr Fergusson said the problem of representation without taxation could be resolved with an arrangement that meant Overseas Territories representatives in the British Parliament would have no right to vote on British financial affairs. But he added: “I think the really big obstacle to the neat, logical structure is that it would bind territories in more closely to the United Kingdom probably more than they want, and the slightly messy arrangement we’ve got at the moment, certainly compared to the French, is messy, but it reflects the wishes of territories, who I think would have — you’d need to ask them direct — but I think they’d have a reluctance at being tied in to Parliament. Bermuda in particular, Bermudians think of themselves as Bermudians, and becoming more legislatively connected with Britain would cause unease.” The committee asked why so many territories wanted to stay part of the “British family”. Mr Fergusson agreed with reasons put forward by witness Susie Alegre, the director of the Islands Rights Initiative consultancy group, who said factors included size and a sense of self. He added “security and sovereignty” to the list, but admitted that his only direct experience was in Bermuda and Pitcairn, where he was a non-resident Governor while High Commissioner to New Zealand and Samoa. Mr Fergusson said: “There’s an element of if it’s not broken, why fix it or change it?” Mr Fergusson told the committee: “Like everything else I think it varies across the different territories, some feel a greater organic attachment than others, for some I think it is a matter of convenience, not getting around to doing anything about it.” He and Ms Alegre were asked how good the relationship between the UK government and its territories was. Mr Fergusson said: “I think it’s almost fated to be difficult.” He added: “I think there will always be a degree of confusion and pushing and pulling. I’m now two years away from Bermuda. I don’t think it is worse than usual, I don’t think it’s necessarily bad. I think that things like the sanctions and anti-money laundering Act obviously would represent a little bit of a spike in spikiness. There will always be something around but I don’t think the relationship is too bad.” The witnesses were also asked about how the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office managed links between other government departments and Overseas Territories. Mr Fergusson said: “The Foreign Office has not very much to do with the Government of Bermuda, especially on a day-to-day basis. The Governor is obviously the main channel for that. Probably the government department that spoke most often to counterparts in the Government of Bermuda would have been the Treasury, to the Ministry of Finance. There were connections between the Ministry of Defence and the (Royal) Bermuda Regiment and sometimes events made those contacts be more frequent.” He added there was a “varied picture” across other territories because some had closer ties to the UK Department for International Development.

2018. August 12. Britain would breach international obligations if it failed to enforce legal recognition for same-sex unions in its Overseas Territories, a former Cayman Islands lawyer has said. Leonardo Raznovich, joint vice-chairman of the International Bar Association’s LGBTI Law Committee, added that a Foreign Office commitment that ministers would work with the British Overseas Territories “so they can drive their own lasting legislative change” was not enough. Mr Raznovich said: “Nothing short of independence will restrict the power of Parliament. The Foreign Office statement is not enough — there is a clear distinction that needs to be made between policy and international law. There is a clear dereliction of duty by the UK Government when it comes to international human rights, particularly as it relates to the LGBT community. They are responsible, and they can’t just say they will continue to ‘encourage and engage’ — that doesn’t work when there are international obligations in place that have been breached.” Mr Raznovich added: “This is for the UK to tell the world — here is a list of obligations under the European Court of Human Rights. You are bound by it, you have to comply. You have five years to catch up. This is what I am trying to push Parliament to do.” He was speaking after the Foreign Office said it welcomed a Bermuda Supreme Court decision “in favour of same-sex marriage rights” — which is to be appealed by the Government. A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office added: “Ministers will continue to encourage and engage with all of the Overseas Territories on these matters so they can drive their own lasting legislative change.” The IBA’s Human Rights Institute wrote to David Burt, the Premier, in June and asked him to accept the court ruling that reinstated gay marriage, which had become legal last year, but was outlawed again by the Domestic Partnership Act months later. The DPA removed full marriage rights for gay people last December and replaced them with civil union-type arrangements available to both gay and heterosexual couples. The IBAHRI acted after Mr Raznovich’s committee highlighted “breaches of international law by the UK Government”. The Human Rights Institute also wrote to Boris Johnson, then British Foreign Secretary, to condemn the UK Government’s failure to order John Rankin, the Governor, to refuse to give Royal Assent to the Domestic Partnership Act. Mr Raznovich, who won a legal challenge to be listed as a dependent on his same-sex partner’s work permit under Caymanian immigration law, said the UK should give its Overseas Territories a timeline to change their legislation. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in favour of legal recognition for same-sex unions, but has not backed full marriage rights for gay people. Mr Raznovich trained as a lawyer in his homeland of Argentina and later qualified as a barrister in England and Wales. He was a principal lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University in the UK, as well as a law lecturer at the Bodden Law School in the Cayman Islands. The Cayman Islands is also locked in controversy over same-sex marriage and the rights of gay people. Two women were last month granted leave to apply for a judicial review of a Cayman Islands government decision to refuse their application to marry. A UK Foreign Affairs Committee has been set up to examine how the Foreign Office manages its responsibilities to “ensure the security and stability of the UK’s 14 OTs”, including “instances of divergence between the UK and some of the Overseas Territories on issues such as civil rights and financial transparency”. A Bermuda government insider, who asked not to be identified, said there was growing pressure for the introduction of same-sex rights, but that it came mainly from Britain and the European Union. The source said: “It is the obligations that the UK have at the moment with the ECHR and any removal from Brexit doesn’t remove that so it is more a pressure from Europe and the UK rather than an international pressure so far. Pressure is growing but I think that a lot of it is politicking because the UK has to make a decision not only on the decision of SSM, but also on the registration of beneficial owners. I believe the UK will engage and have more direct consultation diplomatically with Bermuda, but they will have to resolve the issue as to whether this is a domestic issue or an international issue under section 62 of the Constitution.” A Government House spokeswoman said: “The Governor remains committed to upholding compliance with the Constitution and international obligations in accordance with his responsibilities. The decision of the Supreme Court in relation to the constitutionality of the Domestic Partnership Act is now the subject of an appeal and it would be inappropriate to comment further on the particular issues in that case.” A spokeswoman for Mr Burt also said it would not be appropriate to discuss a case before the courts.

2018. August 3. The new Commissioner of Police, Stephen Corbishley, was sworn in today by John Rankin, the Governor. The ceremony at Government House was attended by Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, along with Paul Wright, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, and Alison Crocket, the Deputy Governor. Mr Rankin welcomed the new Commissioner and his family to the island. The Governor also thanked Mr Wright for his period as Acting Commissioner of Police and for his continued service to Bermuda. Mr Corbishley said he looked forward to working with the Governor, the Minister of National Security and his new colleagues in the Bermuda Police Service. He added: “I am both delighted and proud to be joining the Bermuda Police Service. I am committed to protecting and serving the people of Bermuda as Commissioner of Police and to leading the Bermuda Police Service in maintaining the highest international standards.” Mr Corbishley’s appointment was announced by the Governor on May 31. He has previously served with Kent Police in Britain, and has held command positions in both operational and crime divisions in UK policing. The new Commissioner brings a background of strategic experience, which includes his secondment to the National Crime Agency in the UK.

2018. July 31. Ginny Ferson, the former Deputy Governor, made history last year by becoming Bermuda’s first female chief scout. Mrs Ferson assumed the post last year when she served as Acting Governor. Mrs Ferson said she was delighted to have filled the post, even on a temporary basis. She said: “My son really enjoyed his time with the Cub Scouts and, if I had had a daughter of the right age I would have encouraged her to try the scouting experience too. Scouts get involved in all sorts of activities, which are of interest to both girls and boys — it’s a shame to let the boys have all the fun.” And she told girls: “If you are a girl who enjoys trying new things like camping, archery, fishing, kayaking and lots more, then scouting is for you. Give it a try, I know you’ll love it.” A spokesman for the Bermuda Scouting Association said Mrs Ferson would be missed. The spokesman said: “Ms Ferson donated her time as a scout parent, volunteering to assist in camp set up and break downs, continuously providing support to the Scouting Association when needed.” Geoff Rothwell, chief commissioner for the Scout Association of Bermuda, added: “In the past, we were restricted to male scouts, but look forward to the growth of the female scouting contingent. Having Deputy Governor Ferson serve as our first female chief scout is a fantastic way to boost the growth of scouting with girls and young women across the island.”

2018. July 26. Bermudians who travel to the UK for work have been warned their visits are most likely taxable — and British authorities are about to drastically increase penalties for those caught failing to report. Even those on vacation who occasionally send work e-mails could be liable, according to Ed Hobern, a director at professional services firm KPMG in the UK. KPMG gave a presentation to a group from the Association of Bermuda International Companies on UK tax changes that will take effect from October 1. In an interview, Mr Hobern said that because Bermuda and the UK have not signed a double tax treaty for income tax purposes, islanders on working visits to the UK are likely to be subject to British income tax. “The UK has a double tax treaty with most of the rest of the world, and people from countries with a treaty normally don’t have to do anything when they work in the UK,” Mr Hobern said. “Countries without a treaty include Cayman and Brazil, but Bermuda is particularly hard hit, especially in the insurance sector with the strong connection with the London market.” As Mr Hobern noted, the rules on UK working visits have long been in place. What is quite new is the HM Revenue and Customs’ enhanced capability to catch up with tax dodgers and in just over two months, increased penalties will kick in. “The penalties now are about 20 or 30 per cent of the tax due,” Mr Hobern said. “The new rules are very severe and the penalties will go up to 250 per cent. In the past, it was very hard to police. But two or three years ago, the HMRC spent about £1.6 billion ($2.1 billion) on a new computer system, which pulls in all the records it can get its hands on, including immigration records. So it knows when you have got off the Bermuda-to-Gatwick flight and when you go through border control, and when you’re back at the airport. It also knows who has a bank account in Bermuda and so it is able to piece together information quite effectively.” Armed with such data, the HMRC could reach out to an individual and ask what they were doing on a 15-day trip to the UK, for example. While there is no definition of “work” in UK tax legislation, there is a distinction between “incidental” and “substantive” duties. Incidental duties might include arranging meetings, attending training sessions and reading generic business e-mails. Such activities are not considered taxable, according to KPMG. Substantial duties, which are taxable, would include sending instructions to colleagues, information analysis, preparatory work for meetings and meetings with clients. Vacation e-mails could fall into that bracket, for example in the case of an employee going to the UK for Christmas and extending the stay by a week while being in contact with the office in contact. Employers should tally the number of days their staff are working in the UK, Mr Hobern added, to ensure UK tax liabilities are recorded. “You are taxed on your time working in the UK, so if an employee spends five days working in Britain and has a 220-day working year, then UK tax would be due on five 220ths of annual salary,” he added. Employers should also be aware of whether they have a Paye presence in the UK, which can occur if a company has a branch or agency there. Paye is collected through payroll and includes income tax, as well as national insurance. The HMRC’s target is not ordinary travelers, it’s very wealthy people in Bermuda who are hiding stuff offshore.” But many others could get caught up by the system, he added.

2018. July 25. Lords in the UK have suggested that Britain should force Bermuda to legalize same-sex marriage in the same way it forced the island to adopt public registers. Baroness Elizabeth Barker, a Liberal Democrat, questioned the Minister for the Overseas Territories Lord Tariq Ahmad on the issue and asked him: “Why the double standards.” Lord Ahmad said he believed there was no double standard and told the baroness that he had made a “vociferous defence” of the overseas territories to retain autonomy over the issue and domestic issues in general. “The will of the other place was such that the actual will of Parliament was upheld by the Government. We would rather have not been in that position,” he said. Labour Lord Ray Collins of Highbury spoke on the issue, declaring his interest as a half Bermudian. He said: “Bermuda did pass SSM laws … and then we had that overturned. It was agreed to by this government which it shouldn’t have been. When I go out there with my husband will I be able to exercise the same rights? I hope the noble Lord, the minister will stand up for SSM in Bermuda.” Lord Ahmed said that the Government of Bermuda was now appealing that particular decision and the issue would be determined later this year. “We need to ensure that those local issues of justice are played out properly,” he said.

2018. July 25. A British career diplomat was today sworn in as the island’s second woman Deputy Governor. Alison Crocket takes over from Ginny Ferson, who is moving on to a Foreign Office post in Indonesia. Ms Crocket said she was delighted to be given the chance to work in Bermuda and that nothing had prepared her for the island’s beauty. She added: “I am committed to serving this island to the best of my ability.” Ms Crocket was the head of the Foreign Office’s Anti-Corruption Unit based in London. She also has experience in counter-narcotics work, justice reform, international organized crime and HIV prevention.  Ms Crocket thanked her predecessor for her support. She said: ““I have big shoes to fill and I will do my best to match her professionalism and dedication. As the second female Deputy Governor, I will continue to contribute where I can and to continue to celebrate equality and diversity.” Ms Crocket was sworn by John Rankin, the Governor, at a ceremony at Government House. Mr Rankin thanked Ms Ferson for her work, which included helping to safeguard children and promotion of women’s concerns.

2018. July 11. Deputy Governor Ginny Ferson yesterday backed same-sex marriage in Bermuda “before too long”. Ms Ferson added that the island’s showdown on the issue helped her see perspectives she disagreed with. She admitted that the subject of same-sex marriage could put her at risk of being seen as “controversial”. Ms Ferson said: “I do not agree with that viewpoint, I believe in equal rights for everyone and I very much hope that it will be achieved in Bermuda before too long. But I do appreciate why it is a difficult issue for many people.” Ms Ferson was speaking at Hamilton Rotary Club as she looked back on the “ups and downs, the legacy and the lessons learnt” of her 4½-year tenure on the island. Same-sex marriage in Bermuda was highlighted in April 2015 by entertainer and activist Tony Brannon, who organised a petition in support. But a non-binding referendum in 2016 found a majority against the introduction of both same sex marriage and civil unions. The referendum had a turnout of less than 47 per cent with 14,192 against same-sex marriage and 6.504 in favour. A Supreme Court ruling in May 2017, however, paved the way for same-sex couples to wed. Same-sex marriage was again outlawed by legislators in December that year, when the Domestic Partnerships Act, which offered civil unions to both gay and straight couples, was passed by Parliament. The Act came into effect on June 1 this year but was successfully challenged in the Supreme Court on constitutional grounds less than a week later. Chief Justice Ian Kawaley’s ruling, however, is to be appealed by the Bermuda Government. Ms Ferson told Rotarians that “in the spirit of opening minds and embracing alternative viewpoints”, she wanted to recommend the 2016 BBC documentary Just Call Me Martina. She said the “heart-warming story” was about gay former tennis champion Martina Navratilova, who married her girlfriend in 2014. Ms Ferson said that “regardless of what our parents or church elders have told us about same-sex marriage, I suggest we ask — is it the truth, is it fair to all concerned, will it build good will and better friendship, will it be beneficial to all concerned?” She said that living and working in a small community like Bermuda came with “its delights and its restrictions”, but that she and her husband had been enriched by the island’s diversity. Ms Ferson said that hurricanes also stood out, with four major storms hitting Bermuda during her time on the island — the “double whammy” of Fay and Gonzalo in 2014, Joaquim in 2015 and Nicole in 2016. She added that last year’s America’s Cup was proof of the island’s “talent and professionalism to stage a truly world-class event”. Ms Ferson also mentioned Bermuda Day parades and the camaraderie of Cup Match. She added: “I know I am not the first one to say it, but if only we could bottle that community spirit and apply it to everything we do, Bermuda would be an even more beautiful place to live.” The Deputy Governor, who arrived in Bermuda in December 2013, will leave the island on July 27 for a new diplomatic post in Indonesia — where same-sex marriage is not recognised. She will be replaced at Government House by Alison Crocket, an anti-corruption expert from the UK Foreign Office.

2018. July 5. A Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship equipped for natural disasters is to be stationed in the Caribbean region throughout the hurricane season this year and next year. The announcement came as the British Government unveiled new measures to ensure its Overseas Territories in the area were supported if there was a repeat of last year’s devastating hurricanes. A statement revealed that Mounts Bay, deployed to the region since 2017, had also been stocked with thousands of collapsible jerry cans, hygiene kits and temporary shelters. Mark Lancaster, the UK Minister for Armed Forces, said: “Our armed forces are committed to supporting our Overseas Territories and we have worked alongside our colleagues across government to ensure we are fully prepared in the event of a natural disaster or other crisis. RFA Mounts Bay, which played a vital role during the 2017 hurricane crisis, remains ready in the Caribbean and will be supported by specialist forces from the UK if required.” Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated parts of the Caribbean last year. The British Government committed £72 million in September to help Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands but the islands criticized the speed of the reaction by UK leaders. Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, committed a further £70 million for reconstruction efforts and £300 million of UK loan guarantees in November. A ministerial statement yesterday said that British government departments had put plans in place to combine humanitarian, military support and diplomatic work in a joint unit co-ordinated by the Foreign Office. Experts have also been sent to the region to lead talks on commercial contracts to deliver essential recovery needs in advance of the peak of hurricane season. The UK has also co-ordinated meetings with representatives from the United States, Canada, the Netherlands and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency to ensure a joint approach to hurricane preparedness. Other measures include military reconnaissance and analysis in the area to build links with local and regional disaster management personnel and inspect critical infrastructure. There are also plans for a multinational group in the Caribbean to co-ordinate countries and organisations to ensure efforts are not duplicated across the region and to make first responses more efficient. The UK Department of International Development also sent a team to the region last month to co-ordinate UK preparations with national and regional institutions. The UK has also helped to make sure all islands affected by last year’s hurricanes are now insured under the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Fund. The fund provided more than $50 million of payouts to hurricane-hit Caribbean countries and territories in 2017. Hurricane preparedness was one of the key topics of discussion at the Joint Ministerial Council with the Overseas Territories in London last month. Walter Roban, deputy Premier and the Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, said after the JMC that the UK had pledged a more rapid hurricane response. Lord Ahmad, the Foreign Office Minister for the OTs, visited Anguilla, the Cayman Islands and Montserrat as part of a regional tour to discuss hurricane preparedness in May. He said: “The UK has provided critical support and help with recovery efforts and I have seen for myself the huge impact that this has had already. The UK continues to work closely with the governments of the Overseas Territories in their recovery efforts and in helping to rebuild their economies. Moreover, we have also been working hard with key partners across the region to ensure an even more effective and strategic response in the event we see a repeat of last year’s hurricane season.” Lord Bates, the International Development Minister, added: “Britain continues to stand by those people whose lives were devastated. Not only have we been working with the islands’ governments to make sure they are more resilient to natural disasters but we are also well prepared to respond and provide humanitarian relief if a hurricane hits again.”

2018. July 2. There is “no need to be concerned” about the island’s ongoing push to regain the printing of Bermuda passports from the British Government, home affairs minister Walton Brown told Parliament. “We do believe we will make progress — it’s time consuming, but we will,” Mr Brown said. The switch led to travel havoc for some Bermudians attempting to enter the United States. Mr Brown said that on May 24 he had shared a report on the challenges to Her Majesty’s Passport Office. It followed a meeting with UK authorities in February, he said. The details came in response to parliamentary questions from One Bermuda Alliance MP Patricia Gordon-Pamplin. Britain’s decision to take over passport printing resulted in travel problems from May 2016.

2018. June 23. The Speaker of the House of Assembly questioned yesterday if race had played a part in the United Kingdom’s decision to impose public registers of company ownership on its Overseas Territories. Mr Lister, one of four Bermudian MPs who attended a regional meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in the Caymans this week, said British Crown dependencies, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man, had not been asked to create public registers. He said: “The territories in this region that were affected by this aren’t the only territories that fall under the Crown. Let’s accept that. Let’s accept the fact that the territories that haven’t been affected by this do similar business as those in this territory that have been affected by this registry.” Mr Lister was speaking after former finance minister Bob Richards highlighted that Crown dependencies had not been told to take the same measures as Bermuda and British Caribbean territories. The Speaker said: “They are territories just like us, even though they fall in a different category as far as naming, meaning they’re not Overseas Territories, they’re called Crown Dependencies, but the business model is the same.” He said: “Let’s look at the racial make up of those countries that have been affected and those that haven’t. That’s a simple question I’m putting to you, look at it, you draw your own conclusion.” Mr Lister said that the racial make-up of the Crown Dependencies compared to most Overseas Territories may account for the different treatment. He added: “I can’t put myself in the mind of anybody else, I’ll put that on the table, but I can look at what’s obvious in front of me and until somebody can justify why, then you have to look at the obvious and try and make a decision on the obvious that’s in front of you.” Mr Richards, who retired from politics after he lost his One Bermuda Alliance seat in last year’s General Election, earlier said the British Parliament’s decision to make the OTs reveal the owners of all their registered companies by the end of 2020 was a “huge retrograde step and totally unacceptable”. He added that it was obvious why Crown dependencies were not told to take the same measures. Mr Richards compared the difference in treatment to Britain’s “kith and kin” policy towards the former Rhodesia under the rule of white leader Ian Smith, who made a unilateral declaration of independence from the UK in 1965 in a bid to stave off black majority rule. He said: “In other words, because the Rhodesians who were in charge of Rhodesia were the descendants of the white British, they were kith and kin. They had a different approach towards kith and kin. The folks in the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey are also kith and kin.” Mr Lister said on Thursday the work of the CPA conference, which included delegates from the Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic region, was to discuss how small territories can prepare for “global impacts”. He added the enforcement of beneficial ownership registers would affect Overseas Territories in different ways, But Mr Lister said: “The collective decision was that we have to recognize that we’re one and the same when it comes to the impact that this would have on our respective economies, as the individual territories. And we need to stand as a united front saying that this isn’t the way that these things should be forced down on any of us.” Members of Bermuda’s Youth Parliament took part in debate on Britain’s decision to leave the EU at the conference yesterday. Taj Donville-Outerbridge, 18, said the conference was “really interesting” the chance to spend time with parliamentarians was “a really great experience”. Tierrai Tull, 17, added: “It was definitely an amazing experience to see other youth delegates and hearing their voices.” The UK’s Foreign Office did not respond to a request for comment.

2018. June 16. A UK minister has vowed to tackle concerns over public registers of company ownership in Bermuda and other Overseas Territories. Lord Ahmad, the UK’s Minister for the Overseas Territories, said he recognized the “strength of feeling” over the proposed register and a spokeswoman yesterday said the UK Government would consider any proposals for reform. The Foreign Office official said the gathering was a “valuable opportunity to talk about EU exit and to have a constructive dialogue with the delegates on topics of mutual importance”. She added: “The Minister for the Overseas Territories, Lord Ahmad, reiterated the UK Government’s commitment to work collaboratively with the territories to address concerns raised about the potential adverse impact of public registers of beneficial ownership. The spokeswoman added that “the UK Government would give due consideration to any reform proposals put forward.” The commitment came at the annual meeting of the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council in London, attended by Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier. Mr Roban, also the Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, was due to arrive back in Bermuda last night. He underlined Government’s position that it does not recognize UK legislation designed to enforce public registers of company ownership in Overseas Territories after the meetings. A spokesman for Mr Roban said: “As a result of the passing of an Order in Council under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act, together we stand with Governments of the Overseas Territories and the UK Government that we will take all necessary measures to ensure that the UK Parliament does not interfere in the domestic affairs of an Overseas Territory. “Discussions on upholding democracy were strong. It is clear the domestic affairs and legislative process are the responsibility of the local elected officials.” The spokesman added that the existing agreement between the UK National Crime Agency and the Bermuda Monetary Authority to provide beneficial ownership information within 24 hours will remain in force. He said: “Together with the recent developments of UK Parliament’s interference and the UK’s departure from the European Union, the Prime Minister has recognized the need for all Overseas Territories to begin discussions on constitutional review and advancement.” He said Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has appointed David Lidington, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, to “oversee constitutional discussion or review with any Overseas Territory which desires change”. Overseas Territories were also assured a “rapid response” from the UK to restore law and order after a major disaster. The promise came in the wake of criticism of the reaction to Hurricanes Irma and Maria last year. The Foreign Office spokeswoman highlighted the views of Lord Ahmad, Junior Minister for the Commonwealth and United Nations, who visited Caribbean islands two weeks ago, which made clear the UK Government’s “strength of focus on hurricane preparation”. Lord Ahmad said: “The UK has provided critical aid and support across the region to assist in recovery from last year’s widespread devastation, and we can already see this help from the UK has made a real difference on the ground. However, there’s more that needs to be done. We will continue to work extremely closely with the British Overseas Territories, as well as the rest of the Caribbean, to make sure that the region have plans in place to prepare for, and better withstand, future hurricanes.”

2018. June 15. The Deputy Premier asked the British Government yesterday to ensure “appropriate succession planning” is carried out for roles appointed by the Governor. Walter Roban said the Bermuda delegation to the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council had raised controversy over the new Chief Justice and Commissioner of Police, neither of whom were born in Bermuda. Mr Roban, also the Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, said: “We raised the point around the recent appointments of the new Commissioner of Police and of the Chief Justice. We did raise some points directly with the minister on that, I also raised it as part of the conference deliberations.” He added: “In relation to the position that the UK Government currently holds, their position is linked to the 2012 White Paper which discusses constitutional reform. It says there is no interest at this time of pursuing major constitutional reform with the Overseas Territories. With that in mind, our view is that if that is the case, where the UK Government has responsibility such as the appointment of constitutional positions, such as the Chief Justice and Commissioner of Police — which is under their prerogative of security, foreign affairs and internal security — that they should also ensure that the appropriate successor planning within each territory is also properly deployed. They are in support of our sustainability as a jurisdiction of their governance and opportunities that will ensure that they will have less responsibility for our affairs. They should ensure that the appropriate succession planning around these appointments is done in the meantime and that should come with their responsibility.’ Mr Roban was speaking as he and Kimberley Durrant, the director of Bermuda’s London office and the official island representative in the UK, held a series of meetings in London. He said discussions were dominated by the implications of the UK’s decision to quit the EU — Brexit — but that Constitutional affairs and disaster management were also on the agenda. In a statement released today, a spokesman for the Deputy Premier said that the Bermuda Government stands alongside its counterparts and will “take all necessary measures to ensure that the UK Parliament does not interfere in the domestic affairs of an Overseas Territory”. He said: “The main issue that was raised by a number of territories was this concern about the British Government’s overreach further into domestic matters, contrary to the path that many have been on ... since the early 2000s — continuous constitutional reform, greater domestic responsibility for affairs and just a more partnership-type arrangement with the British.” Mr Roban said the subject caused a “quite heated discussion”. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, two weeks ago criticized the Bermuda Police Service’s management for its failure to prepare a Bermudian successor for Commissioner of Police Michael DeSilva, who will retire today. The appointment of British Chief Superintendent Stephen Corbishley was announced on May 30 by John Rankin, the Governor. David Burt, the Premier, earlier claimed the appointment of Narinder Hargun as the next Chief Justice was “an affront” to the Government. Mr Roban said the talks also raised the possibility of British Overseas Territories citizens applying for British passports if they feel their rights in the EU are reduced compared to British people after a deal is reached on Brexit. He explained: “We received clarification from the minister and the Cabinet Office that as far as they’re concerned there is a guarantee to a right of access to those Overseas Territories citizens to the Schengen area, which should not be affected by Brexit. But here’s the other part of it, as we all know that Brexit negotiations aren’t finished and we don’t know what they’re going to look like in the end. The British Government did also say that if, at the end of a deal with the UK and the EU, that British citizens have different rights or more rights than British Overseas Territories citizens, the British Government has welcomed the possibility of Overseas Territories citizens applying for British citizenship. “So if they find themselves in a situation where they have a difference in rights — there are more rights for British citizens post-Brexit — they can apply for British citizenship. But it is the British Government’s position that the status quo will remain upon conclusion of Brexit negotiations.” The Deputy Premier’s visit to London also included a meeting with Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the UK’s Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations. Mr Roban said Lord Ahmad “understood” the Bermuda Government’s position that it did not recognize UK legislation designed to enforce public registers of company ownership in Overseas Territories. He said: “We don’t recognize the authority of the UK Parliament to legislate over Bermuda outside of the prerogative powers that already exist in our constitutional order section 62 — that is understood by the elected minister and agreed with.” He added: “Bermuda will only do what is passed in the Bermuda Parliament. Bermuda is already adhering to international standards that meet the criteria that is required.” In a statement, a spokesman for the office of the Deputy Premier and Ministry of Transport and Regulatory Affairs said today: “As a result of the passing for an Order in Council under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act, together we stand with Governments of the Overseas Territories and the UK Government that we will take all necessary measures to ensure that the UK Parliament does not interfere in the domestic affairs of an Overseas Territory. Discussions on upholding democracy were strong. It is clear the domestic affairs and legislative process are the responsibility of the local elected officials. “Moving forward there will be a collaborative approach and the existing Exchange of Notes with the National Crime Agency and the Bermuda Monetary Authority to provide Beneficial Ownership Information within a 24 hour period will remain in effect. Together with the recent developments of UK Parliament’s interference and the UK’s departure from the European Union, the Prime Minister has recognized the need for all Overseas Territories to begin discussions on constitutional review and advancement. The Prime Minister has appointed Minister for the Cabinet Office and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the Rt Hon David Lidington CBE, MP to oversee constitutional discussion or review with any Overseas Territory who desires change.” He added: “The Minister raised the issue of a succession plan of qualified Bermudians to senior appointments under the responsibility of the Governor. This is relevant where the UK Government requires all Overseas Territories to be self-governing and self-sustainable as stated under the 2012 White Paper.”

2018. June 15. Hurricanes will be met with a more rapid response from the British Government, Bermuda’s Deputy Premier was told yesterday. Walter Roban was given the commitment during a meeting of the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council in London. He said the pledge came after complaints about the speed of the reaction by UK leaders after 2017 hurricanes devastated parts of the Caribbean. Mr Roban said: “There was significant criticism of the British Government’s response with Irma and Maria last year. It has been directed by both the Prime Minister and the minister that this will get a much more proactive support on their part and they will be much more rapidly responding to any disasters that might occur in this upcoming hurricane season. They have started to raise the level of attention to these matters to that of the Prime Minister as well as the minister responsible.” Mr Roban went on to say that Bermuda’s level of assistance to those affected by natural disasters such as hurricanes would match that of 2017. He explained: “We committed to certainly the same support that we gave last year around the areas of security and recovery that we gave to the territories.” Mr Roban said these included the deployment of the Royal Bermuda Regiment, police and private partners. John Rankin, the Governor, thanked the regiment and police last December for their work to aid people in hurricane-hit UK Caribbean territories. Mr Rankin held a reception for the 30 troops sent to Turks and Caicos and the six police officers stationed in the British Virgin Islands after Hurricane Irma’s 185mph winds brought “severe devastation” to the territories last September. David Burt, the Premier, was among those who asked the British Government to “fulfil its obligations” to the people of Britain’s Caribbean territories after the catastrophic storm. Mr Burt, president of the UK Overseas Territories Association, said he welcomed a British commitment to provide immediate resources in the event of a disaster. But the association questioned Britain’s response in other areas, including a regional reconstruction fund and the two-week wait for the arrival of the Royal Navy’s HMS Ocean in the Caribbean in the wake of Irma. Mr Burt said: “Now, more than ever, we need the United Kingdom to fulfil its obligations by providing comprehensive and lasting support to ensure a sustainable future.” Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, a few days earlier had increased the country’s aid package for the Caribbean region to $42.5 million. The UK Government did not respond to request for comment by press time.

2018. June 13. The Deputy Premier is in London to represent Bermuda in meetings with Britain and the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council. Walter Roban and Kimberley Durrant, Bermuda’s London Office director and representative in the UK, are attending the meetings focused on European negotiations. A government spokesman said discussions were expected to include an update on Britain’s constitutional relationship with the Overseas Territories. He added: “The JMC is focusing on issues relating to the Overseas Territories and Britain’s impending exit from the European Union. Formal discussions are expected to include an update on the Brexit talks and Britain’s constitutional relationships with the Overseas Territories. There are a number of other matters up for discussion including disaster management.” Mr Roban, who is also the Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, attended a pre-JMC meeting, chaired by the Falkland Islands and hosted by the UK Overseas Territories Association, this morning. The spokesman added: “He and Ms Durrant were then scheduled to meet in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the UK’s Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations. Lord Ahmad also hosts a reception for the visitors in the Map Room of the FCO tonight, in advance of tomorrow’s JMC.” The Guardian reported this morning that representatives from the British Virgin Islands were headed to London for talks about the British Government’s decision to compel OTs to make their company ownership registries public. According to the newspaper, the BVI group is led by its deputy premier, Kedrick Pickering, and has instructed legal counsel to prepare a challenge on the basis that the British Parliament has overreached itself. The move came after the British Government accepted an amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill last month. The key new clause in the Bill states that: “For the purposes of the detection, investigation or prevention of money laundering, the Secretary of State must provide all reasonable assistance to the governments of the British Overseas Territories to enable each of those governments to establish a publicly accessible register of the beneficial ownership of companies registered in each government’s jurisdiction. The Secretary of State must, no later than 31 December 2020, prepare a draft Order in Council requiring the government of any British Overseas Territory that has not introduced a publicly accessible register of the beneficial ownership of companies within its jurisdiction to do so.” David Burt said last month that the move marked a “significant backwards step” in relations between Britain and its Overseas Territories. The Premier added: “The Government of Bermuda has a strong constitutional position and the people of Bermuda can rest assured that we will take the necessary steps to ensure our constitution is respected.” But The Guardian reported that Andrew Mitchell, the former Conservative international development secretary and a leading MP behind the rebellion, said on Tuesday: “The Overseas Territories share our Queen, they travel under our flag and they must also share our values.” The newspaper added that he intends, with the former chairwoman of the public accounts committee, Margaret Hodge, to press Crown dependencies to accept the same regime.

2018. May 28. Premier David Burt reiterated Bermuda’s position about a public register of beneficial ownership during a phone conversation with British Prime Minister Theresa May. The Premier joined other leaders from the Overseas Territories for a 35-minute conversation with the UK leader last Thursday. He said: “During the call, I restated the Government of Bermuda’s position: this country does not recognize the right of the United Kingdom Parliament to legislate on matters which are internal affairs reserved to Bermuda under its constitution. “I reiterated our position that Bermuda will implement a public register of beneficial ownership when it is a global standard.” Britain’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, which aims to force British Overseas Territories to set up a public register of beneficial ownership, has won approval from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Mr Burt has argued it shows “wanton disregard” for Bermuda’s Constitution, and has vowed that Bermuda will not make its register public until the House of Assembly votes to do so. Bermuda has kept a register of beneficial ownership for decades. It is open to the authorities in other countries on request, but not available to members of the public

2018. May 23. The following is a re-purposing of the Premier’s speech to the House of Assembly on the 50th anniversary of Universal Adult Suffrage in Bermuda: "Mr Speaker, Madame President, Honourable Members of the House of Assembly and the Senate, former premiers, former Members of the Legislature and the distinguished “Class of 68”, good morning. It is indeed an honour to address this special joint session of the legislature on the 50th anniversary of the first election to be held under Bermuda’s Constitution Order. Historians have described 1968 as one of the most tumultuous years in history. Last month we recalled the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr and next month will mark a similar milestone that brings to remembrance the slaying of Robert Kennedy. There were student protests around the world, from Columbia University in New York against the Vietnam War, to the Latin Quarter of Paris against systems of economic injustice. Decades before NFL players knelt in solidarity, two African-American Olympic medal-winners bowed their heads and raised gloved fists in a Black Power salute as their national anthem played in Mexico City. Amid all of this unrest and more, an Order in Council was brought into force on February 21 of that year. In language that has now become familiar, the Bermuda Constitution Order attempted to codify the very ideals that were stimulating the protests around the world. “Fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual” begins chapter one of a story that 50 years later is still unfinished. It is a story that was meant to be co-authored. The Bermuda Constitution Order was largely the British contribution to this narrative, and the intent was that we, the people of Bermuda, would finish the story by writing our own chapter called “Independence”. The constitution of the party that I am privileged to lead states that the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party is to “serve as a vehicle in moving Bermuda to independence”. So it can and should be no surprise that as Premier, I have no fears about repeating that ultimate aim. The fits and starts, the passing flirtations with independence have never taken hold in the hearts and minds of the people. This is perhaps because we, as politicians, have been consumed with managing Bermuda and all its disparate interests, and have never turned our collective energies towards establishing the vision required to lead Bermuda into the next chapter of her constitutional development. This constitution has been tested, from within our island and without. Every meaningful test of the 1968 document teaches us that it is imperfect, unfinished and stands ready to be better cast in the image of the Bermuda of today. It is unacceptable in a modern democracy to have decisions made thousands of miles away that impact our customs, our institutions and our livelihoods. Likewise, it is not acceptable that decisions made closer to home reflect London’s desires, but bear no resemblance to our own desires as expressed at the ballot box. The year 1968 began a slow move towards electoral justice and parliamentary dignity for Bermuda. The elimination of the property vote and the extension of the franchise to all those of age eligible to vote was only a beginning. That fact makes all the more extraordinary the sacrifice of those men and women who put their names forward as candidates in that first election under the new constitution then. This was new ground and the trail they blazed set the stage for further victories in democracy that culminated in the 2001 constitutional changes and the 2003 General Election, where true universal adult suffrage was achieved: one man or woman, one vote; each vote of equal value. Over these 50 years, we have comforted ourselves with small victories, and the knowledge that the Bermuda Constitution Order gives us more protections than those of our sister Overseas Territories. Occasionally, the tenets of the Constitution seem to work in our favour. But, make no mistake, it does not take much for us to be reminded that the elegant strands woven together by its eight chapters, 108 sections and two schedules can be easily converted to stifle growth, legitimate aspirations and the manifest will of the people. Although we may be referred to now as “Overseas Territories” — it is just the politically correct way to say that we are a colonial possession of the United Kingdom; a country with a parliament that still thinks it is right to legislate for its colonies from Westminster; a place where we have no voice; a place where we have no vote; and a place where our people’s futures are treated as convenient political punchbags without regard for the lives that are impacted by the UK’s domestic political squabbles. Just yesterday [Monday], the Palace of Westminster witnessed a debate where the residents of the colonies were treated with disdain, and where peers spoke about the contingent liability of the colonies, with Members who may have never set foot here, purporting to have the right to make laws for this colony. Mr Speaker, Madame President, Honourable Members of the House of Assembly and the Senate, today’s observances are a critical part of understanding our past and using that understanding to chart this country’s future. Although some may not agree, it is not “independence at all costs” that will serve us well in writing the long-awaited next chapter in this island’s story. As the former Honourable Member and Premier, Dame Jennifer Smith, said on an August night in 1995: “Independence alone and of itself will not solve the many problems that face us today and that threaten our children’s future. For independence to mean a better future for Bermuda, it must be based on a solid foundation of electoral and constitutional reform.” Our charge after this commemoration of the unfinished story is to collectively build that solid foundation. It is to lead the movement to those reforms necessary to assure the people of Bermuda that when the inevitable question on independence is asked, the answers are clear and the people are properly equipped to uniquely finish the work that was started in 1968. Fifty years on, the story awaits an ending chapter. The question is will today’s teenagers have to wait until they collect their pension cheques to read that chapter? It is my hope that while Bermuda is challenged by the neocolonialism from Westminster that all Bermudians, white and black, PLP and One Bermuda Alliance, can relax our political tribalism long enough to realise that if we do not meet the threat posed by the British Parliament’s latest actions, that we in Bermuda may not have the means by which to write that final chapter. Mr Speaker, the Class of 1968 taught us to be bold, and their example should be an inspiration to all of us: to finish the work that was started so that democracy in these isles can be hailed with a song that does not end with the word, “King” or “Queen”, but pays tribute to our island home that gave us the present and departed kings and queens of the Class of 1968, the pioneers of Bermuda’s imperfect but yet unfinished democracy. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

2018. May 7. The choice of lawyer Narinder Hargun as the next Chief Justice was assailed in the House of Assembly. Announced last month, the appointment of Mr Hargun to succeed Ian Kawaley in the post drew sharp criticism that same day from David Burt, the Premier. Mr Burt denounced the selection made by John Rankin, the Governor, which he said had run contrary to the Government’s wishes. On Friday, that was echoed by Progressive Labour Party MP Derrick Burgess, who alluded to Mr Rankin as “the occupant of the largest house on Langton Hill”. Mr Burgess told Parliament he recalled the tenure in the 1920s by Governor Willcocks, who he said branded local police “unreliable because blacks comprised most of it. It seems to us that the representatives sent out here by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office use their power when it’s convenient,” Mr Burgess said. The Hamilton East MP told Parliament that there “never would be three consecutive black Commissioners of Police” or consecutive black Chief Justices. Mr Burgess charged that Mr Hargun had “violated the rules of the Commission of Inquiry”, in which the two men clashed in 2016 when Mr Hargun was counsel for the investigating body. Mr Burgess told MPs that Mr Hargun had cross-examined witnesses, which went against the procedural rules announced for the commission. PLP backbencher Zane DeSilva repeated the critique, but Trevor Moniz, the Shadow Attorney-General, objected that Mr Hargun had been examining witnesses on behalf of the commission, and not cross-examining. Mr DeSilva also questioned why Mr Hargun had represented the Commission after its chairman, Sir Anthony Evans, described a payment by trustees of the Port Royal Golf Course as “straightforward fraud. That was before they interviewed anyone,” Mr DeSilva said. “If he was a man of integrity, he should not have represented them.”

2018. May 5. Premier David Burt vowed a public register of beneficial ownership will not be imposed on Bermuda as he delivered a broadside against the British Government today. The Premier said the UK Parliament’s demand for Overseas Territories to make public their registers of company ownership by 2020 amounted to a “direct assault” on their conduct of business. He said it showed “wanton disregard for the unique constitutional position of Bermuda”. Mr Burt said the legislative power of the UK Parliament over Bermuda can only be done with the consent of Bermuda’s legislature, and cited the example of the abolition of capital punishment. He added that Bob Richards, the former Minister of Finance, had also expressed “his well stated views on this undue act of aggression by the British. There will be no public register of beneficial ownership in Bermuda until this honourable House, elected by the people, votes to implement one,” Mr Burt said, to approval from both sides of Parliament.

2018. May 4. Premier David Burt is expected to tell MPs today whether Bermuda will take legal action against the UK over a move compelling the island to make its company ownership registry public by the end of 2020.The Premier and Minister of Finance is likely to make a statement to the House of Assembly on the issue, days after he criticized the British Parliament for voting for the measure, which will also affect the other British Overseas Territories but not the crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. MPs in the House of Commons gave the green light to the amendment on Tuesday. It states that if any OT doesn't introduce a publicly accessible register of the beneficial ownership of companies, the Secretary of State must, by December 31, 2020, prepare a draft Order in Council requiring it to do so. Lawyers here have been considering the legality of the amendment. Tim Marshall, a consultant at Marshall, Diel & Myers, said the UK Parliament was able to make Orders in Council that affect its territories, including Bermuda, but would normally only do so after consultation. He said obtaining the consent of the territories, though preferable, was not a prerequisite to Britain “exercising their legislative power”. Mr Marshall added: “Our constitution [itself] is an Order in Council, made pursuant to the Bermuda Constitution Act 1967. The UK can amend that or repeal it any way they see fit. “They don't exercise that supreme power with any degree of frequency but in special circumstances they certainly have, Turks & Caicos being a case in point.” Mr Marshall said in the case of the company ownership registry, it was his belief that Britain could impose its will “if this is something that they feel absolutely compelled to do”. But he questioned whether it was the right thing to do or whether any “real or actual problems” with regards to tax compliance actually existed and needed addressing by the amendment. “This seems to be taking a hammer to a very small nail,” he said. “There are treaties that allow them, in appropriate circumstances, to gain access to who the beneficial owners of companies are.” He described the amendment as “draconian” and said it was “really irresponsible” for MPs to approve it “without any real thought as to how it's going to damage” the affected territories. Peter Sanderson, head of litigation at Benedek Lewin, said there had been a convention for the last 150 years that the UK parliament did not interfere with Bermuda's internal laws. “On Tuesday, although not quite yet interfering, the UK Parliament threw down a gauntlet,” he wrote, in a Letter to the Editor. “Of course, this might not come to pass. The UK Parliament might have less of an appetite for interference in 2020 when the time comes to vote on the order. However, this is a threat that has been made, and one that Bermuda ought to take seriously.” He said if the UK was allowed to get away with this once it would “only get bolder with their interference in future” and praised Mr Burt for his “strong statement” on the issue. “This is the appropriate response from Bermuda and our jurisdiction should refuse to implement any such 'requirement' imposed by the UK and, further, refuse to enforce the law if the UK imposes it on Bermuda. More immediately, our government could inform the UK authorities that, on principle, they will not even entertain any discussion of a public register, or further co-operation on related matters, until the UK law 'requiring' them to do so has been repealed.” Mr Sanderson said Bermuda could also have remedies under international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 1, which protects the self-determination of people to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

2018. May 4. Former finance minister Bob Richards has accused British MPs of betraying an inherent bias by forcing Bermuda and the other Overseas Territories to be transparent on company ownership. Mr Richards described the British Parliament’s decision on Tuesday to make the OTs reveal the owners of all their registered companies by the end of 2020 as a “huge retrograde step and totally unacceptable”. He added that it was obvious why the Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man were not being told to take the same measures, likening it to Britain’s “kith and kin” policy towards the former Rhodesia under the rule of white leader Ian Smith. “In other words, because the Rhodesians who were in charge of Rhodesia were the descendants of the white British, they were kith and kin. They had a different approach towards kith and kin. The folks in the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey are also kith and kin.” The retired One Bermuda Alliance politician, who lost his seat at the last General Election, took particular exception to a remark made by Labour MP Liam Byrne during the parliamentary debate. Mr Byrne said: “Have we not learnt that dark money will move to wherever the law is darkest? If we bring transparency to the Overseas Territories, most of the money is simply going to be relocated to the Crown dependencies, unless we change the law to cover them, too.” Mr Richards said: “This is an affront to us. It’s an affront to our democracy. It’s an affront to Bermuda in every way you can think.” He added: “The reference to ‘darkest’ was an unfortunate one in the broader context. The broader context is that, notwithstanding the points being made by certain Members that say that the Crown dependencies should have been treated the same as OTs, the fact is that the UK Parliament, overall, voted to exclude them, after strong lobbying. Taken in this overall context, where the residents of the Crown dependencies, who are indeed kith and kin of the majority of British citizens, escape these sanctions, while the residents of the OTs involved in financial services, who are by and large not kith and kin, do not escape, leads one to the inevitable conclusion of net bias in the UK Parliament. After all Bermuda has done over the past 20 years to be early adopters of the ever-evolving global standards of transparency and co-operation, the statement that we are, and have been, an epicentre of ‘dark money’ is not only a display of profound ignorance, and crass stereotyping, but an example of the kind of scapegoating, for UK-specific political purposes, we have had to endure in recent years.” Britain first raised the idea of requiring the OTs to make their beneficial ownership registers public in 2013, during Mr Richards’s time as deputy premier and finance minister. The Bermuda Government got a legal opinion from a London barrister, who Mr Richards said was “very clear that the decision by the United Kingdom can’t stand scrutiny in the courts”. Mr Richards said: “The Bermuda Constitution is different to the other Overseas Territories. An order in council [by the UK Parliament], having to do with matters that are clearly the responsibility of the local government — which the beneficial ownership thing is — is not allowed in the Constitution. Our self-governing powers in the local constitution are more advanced than that of other Overseas Territories.” He said the Bermuda Government had access to the legal opinion and he was “totally confident” it would challenge the UK decision and be successful. The debate on Tuesday centered on an amendment to an anti-money laundering Bill put forward by Labour MP Margaret Hodge and Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, which won the support of a majority of the House of Commons. Mr Richards said the politicians’ claim that the British OTs were tax havens and were harboring illicit funds was “purely rhetoric to try to embarrass the Conservative Government. Unfortunately, we are being made a whipping boy for political issues in the United Kingdom,” Mr Richards said. “I think the opposition party in London will try to do anything to embarrass the Government. They are also playing to a false narrative that places like Bermuda are taking food from the mouths of starving babies in Africa. This whole argument in the UK is about their tax.” Agreeing that Bermuda was a competitor to London in the financial-services sector, he said the island’s registry was “hugely superior” to Britain’s and company ownership information was provided to overseas tax authorities swiftly. “We have always demanded to know who the human beings were behind a company,” he added. The UK’s Guardian newspaper reported that the amendment did not apply to the Crown dependencies because Parliament did not have the legal right to impose its will on them. Mr Mitchell was quoted as saying that in light of the amendment’s success, Parliament would expect the Government “to make the point persuasively, that we hope that the Crown dependencies embrace the same ethical position and equal transparency”. Mr Byrne could not be reached for comment by press time. An assistant at his Birmingham constituency office explained he was busy with local elections yesterday.

2018. May 2. Relations between the UK and its Overseas Territories have taken “a significant backwards step” following a move to compel the OTs to make their company ownership registries public by the end of 2020. That was the reaction of David Burt, the Premier, after hearing the outcome of a debate in the UK’s House of Commons. If Bermuda and the other thirteen UK Overseas Territories do not make their company ownership registers public they face having the requirement imposed by Britain. A debate in the House of Commons, in London, saw the UK government accept an amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill. The Bill had previously passed through the House before being turned back by the House of Lords in January. Mr Burt was asked for his response, and in a statement said: “The action taken in the UK Parliament today signals a significant backwards step in the relations between the United Kingdom and the Overseas Territories. In the case of Bermuda, it is ironic that in the very year we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our Constitution, Bermuda is confronted with this regrettable ‘about face’ which fails to acknowledge this long history of full internal self-government. The Government of Bermuda has a strong constitutional position and the people of Bermuda can rest assured that we will take the necessary steps to ensure our Constitution is respected.” The key new clause in the Bill, which was accepted by the UK government, states that: “For the purposes of the detection, investigation or prevention of money laundering, the Secretary of State must provide all reasonable assistance to the governments of the British Overseas Territories to enable each of those governments to establish a publicly accessible register of the beneficial ownership of companies registered in each government’s jurisdiction. The Secretary of State must, no later than 31 December 2020, prepare a draft Order in Council requiring the government of any British Overseas Territory that has not introduced a publicly accessible register of the beneficial ownership of companies within its jurisdiction to do so.” An Order in Council is effectively a decree from the UK and must be approved by both Houses of Parliament. Mr Burt said: “This attempt to legislate for Bermuda from London is a return to base colonialism and is an action that has no place in 2018. It is especially telling that the Crown Dependencies are not included in this amendment which is restricted to the Caribbean OTs and Bermuda.” Bermuda has had a central beneficial ownership registry for about 70 years, and under tax transparency agreements it is obliged to share such information with authorities in the UK and many other countries. However, it has been argued that making the Bermuda registry public, when few other countries do, would damage the island’s international business sector. During yesterday’s debate UK Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan acknowledged “the will of the House” and said the government would not vote against the new clause. He said the UK government was “acutely conscious of the sensitivities in the overseas territories and of the response that the new clause may provoke”. Sir Alan said: “I give the overseas territories the fullest possible assurance that we will work very closely with them in shaping and implementing the Order in Council that the Bill may require. To that end, we will offer the fullest possible legal and logistical support that they might ask of us. Alongside that, we retain our fullest respect for the overseas territories and their constitutional rights, and we will work with them to protect their interests.” Margaret Hodge, an opposition Labour Party MP, was one of the two principal backers of the amendment. The UK introduced a company ownership public register in 2016, however Dame Margaret accepted that the UK’s registers need to be improved. She said: “That is not an either/or; it is a both/and. We need both to improve our registers and ensure transparency in our overseas territories. To those who argue that the money will transfer to other tax havens, I say this: there may well be some leakage, but our tax havens play a disproportionately large role in the secret world that makes tax havens”. Some MPs argued that the UK should not legislate on the issue for its overseas territories. Dame Margaret said: “I agree that it would be far, far better for all of us if those overseas territories willingly enacted public registers, but we have now had five years, and it is clear that they will not act without real pressure from us. Our new clause gives them a further three years — until the end of 2020 — to adjust to a transparent regime. The present practice is unsustainable. The fifth anti-money laundering directive from the EU will bring in public registers across the EU by the end of 2019.” Countries across the world, from Nigeria and Afghanistan, are beginning to commit to public registers, she said, adding: “We should be showing leadership on this, not trying to be the last man, or the last woman, standing against what is morally right.” Sir Alan said the UK was the first G20 country to establish a public register of company beneficial ownership, and that it is committed to seeing the overseas territories and Crown Dependencies take further action. He noted that significant progress has been made through “consensual joint action”, and that four of the seven overseas territories with significant financial centres have central registers or similar arrangements that are able to provide UK law enforcement authorities with access to information at short notice. With the new clause attracting wide support among MPs from different parties, including 19 on the government’s side who signed the amendment, Sir Alan said: “We do not want to legislate directly for the overseas territories, nor do we want to risk damaging our longstanding constitutional arrangements, which respect their autonomy. However, we have listened to the strength of feeling in the House on this issue and accept that it is the majority view of this House that the overseas territories should have public registers ahead of their becoming the international standard, as set by the Financial Action Task Force. We will accordingly respect the will of the House and not vote against the new clause.” The clause does not apply to beneficial ownership of trusts. A separate clause would have seen the Crown Dependencies — the Channel Islands and Isle of Man — treated in a likewise manner. Helen Goodman, an opposition Labour MP, brought that amendment. However, she did not press it to a vote, explaining that the clause was linked to the EU’s fifth anti-money laundering directive and added: “I think we can reach an agreement on how to proceed on these matters.”

2018. May 1. A move to require Bermuda to make its register of company ownership public by the end of 2020 has been described as a backwards step in relations between the UK and the UK Overseas Territories by David Burt, the Premier. A debate in the House of Commons, in London, saw the UK government accept an amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, requiring Bermuda and the other 13 UK Overseas Territories to make their company ownership registers public. The bill had previously passed through the House before being turned back by the House of Lords in January. Mr Burt said: “The action taken in the UK Parliament today signals a significant backwards step in the relations between the United Kingdom and the Overseas Territories. In the case of Bermuda, it is ironic that in the very year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of our Constitution, Bermuda is confronted with this regrettable ‘about face’ which fails to acknowledge this long history of full internal self-government. The Government of Bermuda has a strong constitutional position and the people of Bermuda can rest assured that we will take the necessary steps to ensure our Constitution is respected. This attempt to legislate for Bermuda from London is a return to base colonialism and is an action that has no place in 2018. It is especially telling that the Crown Dependencies are not included in this amendment which is restricted to the Caribbean OTs and Bermuda.” The key new clause in the Bill, which was accepted by the UK government, states that: “For the purposes of the detection, investigation or prevention of money laundering, the Secretary of State must provide all reasonable assistance to the governments of the British Overseas Territories to enable each of those governments to establish a publicly accessible register of the beneficial ownership of companies registered in each government’s jurisdiction. The Secretary of State must, no later than 31 December 2020, prepare a draft Order in Council requiring the government of any British Overseas Territory that has not introduced a publicly accessible register of the beneficial ownership of companies within its jurisdiction to do so.” An Order in Council is effectively a decree from the UK.

2018. April 26. The selection of Narinder Hargun as Chief Justice was transparent and fair, according to a statement this morning from Government House. The appointment of Mr Hargun, who retired this month after serving as director and head of litigation at Conyers Dill & Pearman, came under fire from David Burt, the Premier, after it was announced yesterday by John Rankin, the Governor. Mr Burt said he was consulted about the appointment and informed Mr Rankin that the Bermuda Government did not support the selection of Mr Hargun by the Judicial and Legal Services Committee. Mr Hargun will replace Chief Justice Ian Kawaley, who steps down in July. The statement from Government House said that Mr Rankin had “carefully considered the appointment of the Chief Justice, drawing upon advice received from the Judicial and Legal Services Committee and after consultation with the Premier, who in turn consulted the Leader of the Opposition, in accordance with section 73(3) of the Constitution. Narinder Hargun was appointed following an open and competitive process. As the Governor has already noted, Mr Hargun is a highly regarded lawyer both within Bermuda and internationally and his appointment will help maintain the island’s standing as a legal jurisdiction of the highest order.” The statement added: “The separation of the executive, judiciary and legislature is an important pillar of good governance and the Governor is confident that Narinder Hargun will execute his duties impartially and fairly for the benefit of all Bermudians.”

2018. April 26. The appointment of Narinder Hargun as successor to Chief Justice Ian Kawaley is “an affront” to the Government, the Premier said last night. David Burt said the Government did not support the appointment and that he had told the Governor, John Rankin, during the consultation process. Mr Burt added: “The Governor did consult with me and I shared with him that this government could not support the recommendation of the Judicial and Legal Services Committee. We were elected to represent the people of Bermuda and to bring meaningful change to this country. The views we express are founded in the convincing mandate to govern which was given to us by an overwhelming majority of the people. Every Bermudian should be concerned that this mandate can be ignored and discarded by a process that cannot be moulded to reflect their will through the existing consultative process.” The Government was asked last night for the reasons behind its objection to Mr Hargun’s appointment, but no response was received by the time of press. Mr Burt was speaking after Mr Rankin announced yesterday that Mr Hargun will take over as Chief Justice on July 14. The Governor highlighted Mr Hargun’s qualifications and experience in the courts. Mr Rankin said: “Mr Hargun is a highly regarded lawyer both within Bermuda and internationally. He has over 35 years of professional legal experience, appearing as counsel in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council, and serving as an Assistant Justice of the Supreme Court since 2011. I am confident that his legal expertise and management experience in the legal profession will serve the Supreme Court well, helping to maintain the island’s standing as a legal jurisdiction of the highest order”. Mr Burt said: “Bermudians must feel that fairness, equity and above all justice can be found in all our courts. After 50 years of this constitutionally sanctioned disrespect, this is the latest example of this modern era of democracy being frustrated by the application of standards from the last century.” The Premier added: “It is now for the new Chief Justice to discharge the duties of the office fairly and justly, and in so doing he will have this Government’s support.” Mr Hargun served as counsel for the 2016 Commission of Inquiry, which was set up to examine allegations of mishandling of the public purse under the Progressive Labour Party. Derrick Burgess, a former public works minister and still a Progressive Labour Party MP, accused Mr Hargun of racism for his line of questioning about Government contracts during the inquiry. Mr Burgess accused Mr Hargun of “racist practices” and suggested a line of questioning about the involvement of Vincent Hollinsid and Winters Burgess in LLC — the contractor for the Dame Lois Browne Evans courts and police building — was because of their colour. Mr Burgess said: “If they were white, you wouldn’t even hear those questions to me.” He told Mr Hargun: “I know you are from South Africa, you know.” Mr Hargun, a director of global law firm Conyers Dill & Pearman and head of litigation in its Bermuda office, is understood to be from India. Jeanne Atherden, the Leader of the One Bermuda Alliance, welcomed the appointment of Mr Hargun. Ms Atherden said: “Mr Hargun is one of Bermuda’s pre-eminent jurists and brings a wealth of litigation and judicial experience to the post. I am disappointed by the openly political opposition of the Premier to the appointment of such a respected and qualified Bermudian member of the Bar. Mr Hargun was appointed following a thorough, transparent and public competition run by the committee, which comprises a number of notable Bermudians and prominent international legal minds.” Ms Atherden added: “ For the Premier to make this a political football is irresponsible to the extreme. A mature democracy is governed by the separation of powers and the rule of law. An independent judiciary is key to upholding these important values. Attacks such as the Premier’s are aimed at having a chilling effect. Thankfully, our judiciary is robust and will continue to take decisions without fear or favour — no matter who forms the Government. I wish Mr Hargun the best as he takes up this critically important position.”

2018. April 24. The birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s third child is to be celebrated tonight with a gun salute. The Royal Bermuda Regiment said a field gun will fire from Hamilton’s Albouy’s Point at 6pm to mark the birth of the couple’s second son. A single round will be followed by a rifle volley from a firing party. Barricades will be put up along Point Pleasant Road, blocking traffic to Albouy’s Point, for the event. The Bermuda Police Service will control traffic and spectators in the area and the Department of Marine and Ports will notify sailors.

2018. April 21. Government House plans to ditch single-use plastics for events and in its day-to-day operations. John Rankin, the Governor, said Government House would also encourage its suppliers to take steps to cut back on the use of disposable plastics. He said: “We are all increasingly aware of the risks to our environment from throw-away, non-biodegradable plastics which foul the waters around Bermuda and endanger our wildlife. If we all act together, we can make a difference and Government House will be encouraging its suppliers themselves to take steps to reduce unnecessary use of plastics.” Mr Rankin added: “We are also looking at ways to increase our recycling of waste.” Single-use plastics include cold-drinks bottles, packaging, plastic cups, cutlery and straws.

2018. April 17. Bermuda’s plan to capitalize on financial technology like cryptocurrency has got a good reception from British business leaders, the Minister of National Security said yesterday. Wayne Caines, speaking from London where the island this week launched a charm offensive on fintech, said: “We have received generally positive feedback both locally and internationally. We have received good reaction from the companies that are launching their own tokens, to the law firms and others who advise them. Additionally, the ecosystem and fintech community are very appreciative that Bermuda has taken the lead to provide a safe, fair and regulated environment, where clear guidance has been provided. Fintech innovation is happening globally at a rapid pace. We are an internationally recognized insurance and financial centre. With that in mind, we must continue to keep abreast of the changing business trends if we are to continue to thrive. “Additionally, as I have said, embracing this new world with responsible regulation could lead to the attraction of new companies and capital investment to Bermuda, additional government revenues, new career, employment and training opportunities for Bermudians and the laying of a foundation for a prosperous future for our next generation. The vision and path that Bermuda is taking thus far is being very well-received.” We recognize that this is new and innovative for Bermuda, so we will continue our primary role of ensuring that we provide as much information as possible, particularly as it relates to our proposed legislation and strategy.” Mr Caines said earlier there was “considerable interest” in the island’s approach to blockchain and virtual currency. He added: “We believe that Bermuda will become a global leader in the fintech space. So, this visit is quite timely as it allows us to share Bermuda’s fintech strategy directly with some of London’s key business industry influencers.” Mr Caines, whose portfolio includes information technology, policy and innovation, will make a presentation to industry leaders at law firm Mishcon De Reya. He will also meet representatives of the City of London Corporation, UK Treasury officials, and the Financial Conduct Authority. Mr Caines is also expected to meet British politicians. The Companies and Limited Liability Company (Initial Coin Offering) Act was tabled in the House of Assembly last week. The Bill, which will be debated at a later sitting of the House, is designed to make ICOs a restricted business activity which require consent from the Minister of Finance. The next Bill to be tabled will be the Virtual Currency Business Act, which will set out regulations designed to govern virtual currency digital asset exchanges. Mr Caines said yesterday: “The consultation process is currently under way and we anticipate tabling the next piece of legislation in early May.”

2018. April 16. Ministers from the Bermuda Government are to be asked to give evidence before British MPs as part of a probe into tax avoidance and evasion. The sub-committee of the Treasury Select Committee launched its investigation in the wake of the Panama and Paradise Papers leaks. John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw and chairman of the sub-committee, wrote in The Guardian newspaper that he wanted to “hear from the dependencies and territories themselves”. Mr Mann said Britain should “regard it as a matter of national shame that the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories that fly our flag give shelter to the wealth of the world’s financial elite”. He pointed out that half of the 240,000 shell companies used by Mossack Fonseca to help the wealthy dodge tax were incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. Mr Mann said the BVI was “far from alone” in looking the other way “as the world’s financial elite used its legal structures to hide their wealth from prying eyes”. He added: “Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands are on the EU grey list of uncooperative tax jurisdictions. If they do not co-operate further, they may be placed on the blacklist.” Mr Mann said he would be chairing a “Treasury sub-committee inquiry into avoidance and evasion, aiming to unpick the failures of policy and resourcing that have allowed the tax base to be undermined”. The Paradise Papers — secret files from Bermudian-founded law firm Appleby — were released in June by journalists looking into the offshore activities of some of the world’s most powerful people and companies. The Paradise Papers were unveiled just over a year after 11 million documents were leaked from secretive Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca which sparked international investigations and fresh vows to crack down on tax cheats. British parliamentary committees cannot force individuals resident outside the UK to appear before them. A series of hearings on tax abuse, the practices of major accountancy firms, individual tax avoiders and evaders and the use of the UK’s Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories are to take place over the next six months. Britain's The Guardian newspaper added that the “sub-committee will also investigate the UK’s network of Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, which have refused to implement new standards on transparency for offshore company owners despite pressure from campaigners and MPs”. A government spokeswoman said Bermuda had not been asked to attend the sub-committee hearings

2018. March 21. Britain would have to apply for regulatory equivalence — just as Bermuda has already successfully managed — in order for its insurers to access European Union markets on a level playing field with continental competitors, under the EU’s latest draft Brexit proposal. Many insurers have already conceded that the UK would lose “passporting” rights for financial services that enable Britain’s banks and insurers to serve clients across the EU. But bodies representing them are pushing for a system of mutual recognition as they want a set of rules that is more durable and not subject to unilateral withdrawal. The EU will consider offering the UK “improved equivalence” for its financial services, according to the latest draft of the bloc’s negotiating position, obtained by wire news services Bloomberg and Reuters. Under equivalence, the EU will only let UK financial services firms access its market for as long as it considers British rules to be equivalent to the bloc’s. Bloomberg reported yesterday that the use of the word “improved” in the draft is intentionally vague, according to an EU official who declined to be named. “Regarding financial services, the aim should be reviewed and improved equivalence mechanisms, allowing appropriate access to financial services markets, while preserving financial stability, the integrity of the single market and the autonomy of decision making in the European Union,” the draft reads. “Equivalence mechanisms and decisions remain defined and implemented on a unilateral basis by the European Union.” Britain’s impending departure from the EU was triggered by a referendum in June 2016. Many Bermudian-based insurance groups have operations in London whose ability to access European markets could be jeopardized by Brexit. Most have not waited for the outcome of the complex negotiations to ensure they have a European hub to continue to service EU clients, whatever happens. Bermudian-headquartered Hiscox, for example, is setting up a base in Luxembourg and XL Group has opted for Ireland. Sian Hill, a partner and Brexit insurance lead with KPMG in the UK, said in an interview with The Royal Gazette last November that Bermudian-based groups had an added option, thanks to the island’s third-country equivalency with the EU’s Solvency II insurance regulations. “It might be possible for some Bermuda-based groups to write European business directly from Bermuda in the future, because the licences already exist, even if they don’t do that currently,” Ms Hill said. “It’s hard to say how that’s going to pan out, but Bermuda is a recognized Solvency II-equivalent jurisdiction, which means that the Bermuda Monetary Authority is regarded as a good group supervisor.” Bermuda won third-country equivalence two years ago, the culmination of a six-year effort led by the BMA, the island’s financial services regulator. Ms Hill added: “It’s not yet clear whether the UK would be recognized as an equivalent jurisdiction. It’s something that would have to be granted by the EU, as opposed to being automatic.” Ms Hill added that Brexit would also have repercussions for groups with an EU platform outside Britain looking to write business in the UK. A Bermuda-based firm writing EU business out of Ireland, for example, may also have a UK branch, but Ms Hill said an extra step may be needed in future. “The current expectation is that they would need to get that UK branch separately authorized in the UK,” she said. “So you wouldn’t necessarily need to change your legal structure, but you would need to have a locally regulated branch.”

2018. March 15. A new deputy governor will take over from Ginny Ferson, the Governor announced today. Alison Crocket, an expert in anti-corruption work, will replace Ms Ferson in August. Ms Crocket said: “I am very excited at the opportunity to serve Bermuda and its people in the role of Deputy Governor. “I have already begun learning about the issues that are important to Bermuda and familiarizing myself with my constitutional responsibilities. “My family and I look forward to meeting new friends from all backgrounds and across all walks of life in Bermuda.” Ms Crocket joined the Diplomatic Service in 2001 after a career in local government social services and the children’s charity Barnado’s. Her present post is head of the anti-corruption unit in the Foreign Office. She played a leading role in drafting international aspects of the British Government’s anti-corruption strategy. She earlier served in Vienna, Austria, where she worked on counter-narcotics programmes, justice reform and international organized crime, as well as HIV prevention and public health programmes. Ms Crocket, who has two adult daughters, will be accompanied by her long-term partner, Pete.

2018. March 6. Criminal records are to be stored electronically and shared with British police forces, the Minister of National Security said last week. Wayne Caines said a member of the Association of Chief Police Officers Criminal Records Office, the criminal records service for England and Wales, will be seconded to Bermuda for three months to help to digitize priority records such as sex offenders, gang members and “high-harm offenders” with Bermudian or UK passports. Mr Caines said: “Acro will also be given remote electronic access to these records so they can conduct their own searches. “The Commissioner of Police has confirmed that this arrangement will reduce the demands on the staff, and speed up the information-sharing process. The data contained within records management systems will remain the property of the Bermuda Police Service at all times. ACRO use will include searching, printing and exporting information, with users subject to BPS auditing.” Mr Caines was speaking in the House of Assembly as the debate on the Budget continued. Bermuda Police already has an information sharing agreement with ACRO, but the island’s criminal records office has only two staff and about 20,000 paper records, some dating back to the 1930s. Mr Caines told MPs the cost of the secondment will be about $4,000 and digitized records will mean officers will have access to offender information 24 hours a day, rather than be limited by the police record office’s normal hours. He added the digital records could also be shared with other authorities such as the Department of Public Prosecutions and the court service. Mr Caines said: “The BPS will now have the ability to research prolific priority offenders based on criminal convictions.” He added that digital records would also cut down the risk of important information being destroyed by accident. Mr Caines said: “This positive use of an established international relationship will assist in modernizing a significant feature of criminal justice administration and improve the efficiency of the Bermuda Police Service in this critical area of criminal record-keeping.”

2018. March 2. A fresh attack on Britain’s decision to stop passport printing in Bermuda has been launched by the Minister of Home Affairs. Walton Brown said that the change, made two years ago, had led to delays and travel confusion for Bermudians traveling to the United States from outside the island because the new passports are coded with the British GBD rather than the former Bermudian BMU. Mr Brown told MPs in the Budget debate on Wednesday night that if the British authorities “were not so obstinate, we would have that code back in place tomorrow”. He said he had met UK officials on a recent trip to London and that they had been “sympathetic” but that “to date there had been no concerted action”. Mr Brown added that, although security concerns were the original reason for the change, there had been no security issues with Bermudian-issued passports. The minister spoke after Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, former One Bermuda Alliance home affairs minister, asked what was being done to resolve the problem. Opposition MP Trevor Moniz also noted a “bizarre” drop in budgeted passport revenues. Mr Brown told the House that money had been budgeted for 2018-19 for the push to secure the right code for island passports. He added: “There is a remedy to deal with the British. The question is whether or not we have the fortitude.”

2018. February 19. Bermuda is to open an office in Brussels to protect the island’s interests as Britain prepares to leave the European Union. David Burt, Premier and Minister of Finance, said the office would cut the cost of consultants in Europe. He said in his Budget Statement on Friday: “Efforts to protect and strengthen the economy will require increased resources to be allocated to external affairs. With increased pressures from Europe owing to the EU review of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions together with Brexit, it is necessary for Bermuda to increase its engagement with the European Union and member-state governments.” The office would fall under the Cabinet Office’s budget, which was increased by $748,000. The bulk of that rise was listed as going towards the Government’s London and Washington offices. The London Office will see its budget increase by $403,000, a 39 per cent rise. The Washington DC office will have its budget almost doubled with an additional $194,000 — a 94 per cent increase. Mr Burt said the island is not on the recently published list of non-cooperative jurisdictions, but the EU Code of Conduct Group has expressed concerns about the island. He said: “Since December, the Government has been meeting with various local stakeholders and is in the process of formulating a response to address the European Council’s concerns. It is the Government’s view that the mischief that the EU is trying to cure — tax leakage from companies operating in their jurisdictions — has largely been mitigated by advances in international tax transparency and regimes.” Mr Burt added recent tax changes in the US were the “most pressing threat” to the island’s international business sector. He said: “Although the tax changes were not directly targeted at Bermuda, many of Bermuda’s international companies have had to make quick adjustments to their operations to avoid an additional tax burden.” Mr Burt said the Government has continued to work with the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers to protect Bermuda’s interests. He added: “Although we feared the worst, the resulting tax changes will not be fatal to our insurance industry and may present some opportunities for growth due to the superior regulatory advantages for companies operating from Bermuda. Recently, the minister responsible for immigration met with the leadership of Abir and made it clear that the Government will facilitate any transfer of jobs to Bermuda that may result from any restructuring caused by the US tax reform. Any transfer of jobs to Bermuda will create additional opportunities for Bermudians, and this government is committed to preparing Bermudians to take advantage of those opportunities.” The Premier said the Government has remained focused on the island’s upcoming assessment by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. Mr Burt said the assessment is vital as a poor report card could harm the local economy. He said: “Other countries that have not done well have seen correspondent banking relationships disappear. If this were to happen in Bermuda, it would pose a critical threat to our financial services industry. The full resources of the Government have been marshaled to ensure that Bermuda is prepared for the assessment and we will continue to work with the Bermuda Monetary Authority and our industry partners.”

2018. January 30. A decision by Britain to overrule Bermuda’s attempt to ditch same-sex marriage would be “an exceptional step”, the House of Commons in London heard last night. Sir Alan Duncan, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, said the UK was “disappointed” by the island Parliament’s decision to backtrack on marriage equality. He added that a number of UK Overseas Territories had moved to introduce same-sex marriage, but that Britain had no plans to impose it on its overseas territories. Sir Alan was speaking during a House of Commons adjournment debate on Bermuda’s 2017 Domestic Partnership Act, which was passed last month. The legislation is designed to replace same-sex marriage with watered-down civil partnerships. But Sir Alan, the first openly gay Conservative MP in the House of Commons, said the UK would consider the implications of the proposed Bermuda law “very carefully”. The debate was scheduled after opposition Labour MP Chris Bryant called on Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, to weigh in on the issue. Mr Bryant said Bermuda’s legislature had been in effect “begging the Foreign Secretary to allow it to cancel same-sex marriage”. Last night, Mr Bryant appealed to David Burt, the Premier, and Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, to withdraw the legislation. The former Overseas Territories Minister, who entered into a civil partnership in 2010, said: “Bermuda and the Premier of Bermuda — I hope you change your mind. I hope Bermuda changes its mind, and I hope the Government does not sign this Bill into law.” Mr Bryant branded the Domestic Partnerships Act “a deeply unpleasant and cynical piece of legislation” that might appear “the same as civil partnerships in this country — but it is not”. He added: “I have never seen a piece of legislation that so clearly declares, from the outset, that it is inconsistent with all the other laws in the land, including the Human Rights Act and the Constitution.” He compared discrimination against gay people to the view “over two centuries or more” that slavery was part of the natural order. Mr Bryant said that John Rankin, the Governor, was “entirely within his rights” to delay signing the Bill into law or to refuse Royal Assent. He admitted that he had been told to “butt out” in some of the messages he had received, But Mr Bryant said he disagreed because the legislation “impinges on how Britain is viewed around the world”. He told the House of Commons that the Bill would also affect cruise ships registered on the island. Mr Bryant said that cruise line Cunard, which had advertised gay weddings after a Bermuda Supreme Court decision last year paved the way for gay marriage, now feared it would lose the ability to perform the ceremonies. Same-sex marriage is legal in England, Wales and Scotland but not in Northern Ireland, where the hardline Democratic Unionist Party blocked it, despite a majority in favour in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Mr Bryant said that “this Government, here in Westminster, needs to look hard at Northern Ireland, and implement equality”. Sir Alan did not give any indication on what Mr Rankin would do about the Bill. If Mr Rankin approves the domestic partnership law same-sex marriages will be outlawed, although those that have taken place so far would remain valid. Mr Rankin has taken legal advice on the legislation and its constitutional implications and is still considering his decision. Mr Bryant told UK MPs there had been eight same-sex marriages since the Supreme Court ruling and another four banns published. Sir Alan did not signal UK support for the Domestic Partnership Act, but said it represented “progress in comparison to the situation just a year ago”.

2018. January 25. The House of Lords has voted down an attempt to force Bermuda and other UK Overseas Territories to adopt a public register of company ownership. The proposal came last week in the form of an amendment to the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, and was rejected by Britain’s upper chamber by 211 votes to 201. Amendment 73, moved by Baroness Stern, named Bermuda and five other territories — Anguilla, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks & Caicos Islands and the British Virgin Islands. The proposal said that Britain should order any of these territories that failed to establish a publicly accessible beneficial ownership register by January 1, 2020 to do so through an Order in Council — effectively a decree from the UK. The Lords voted down a similar proposal in April last year, presented as an amendment to the Criminal Finances Bill. Beneficial owners include those who have the benefits of ownership of a company, even when the title of the company is listed under another name. Bermuda has had a central beneficial ownership registry for about 70 years and has argued that making it public when few other countries do would be damaging to the island’s international business sector. Under tax transparency agreements, Bermuda is obliged to share such information with the UK and many other countries. The UK will monitor the effectiveness of those arrangements through the end of this year and file a report in Britain’s Parliament by July 2019. Lord Ahmad, Britain’s Minister for the Commonwealth and United Nations, who is responsible for the Overseas Territories, said Bermuda and the other islands mentioned had made good progress with transparency and warned that forcing them to go public with ownership registers could be counterproductive. “Imposing public registers of company beneficial ownership on the Overseas Territories against their wishes and not including their legislative bodies and elected representatives is something that the territories will not take lightly,” Lord Ahmad said. “It will set back progress we have already made and have a negative impact on the ability of UK law enforcement and tax authorities to access beneficial ownership information held across the territories.” And he asked the Lords if they were talking about Wales and Scotland, rather than Anguilla and Bermuda, whether they “would be so keen to disenfranchise their elected representatives”.

2018. January 25. The attempt by Bermuda to ban same-sex marriage will damage Britain’s international reputation if it is allowed to go ahead, a UK politician warned yesterday. Chris Bryant, who will lead a debate on the controversy in the House of Commons on Monday, told The Royal Gazette that the British Government should block a Bill designed to replace same-sex marriage with civil partnerships. The Domestic Partnership Act, which aims to reverse a Supreme Court ruling last May that opened the way for gay marriages, has yet to be signed into law by John Rankin, the Governor. Mr Bryant said: “I think Britain will harm its reputation internationally for leading on such issues as this when we basically say ‘yes, in one of our overseas territories, which has a strong link to the United Kingdom and has the same queen, we are prepared to sanction getting rid of same-sex marriage’.” He added: “I used to be a minister in the Church of England. I understand some people’s religious issues around all this, but 200 years ago the Church of England still thought slavery was OK. I think in 200 years’ time, Christians will be saying ‘why weren’t we celebrating love?’. Lots of Christians do, of course.” Mr Bryant, a former Overseas Territories Minister at the Foreign Office, was speaking after he was given a half-hour adjournment debate on the Bermuda Bill, to be held at the end of Monday’s session at Westminster. He will speak for 15 minutes before Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, responds for the Government. Mr Bryant, the opposition Labour MP for Rhondda in Wales, said: “I’ll say I think the Government should always sit down with politicians in each of the overseas territories and try not to get to these standoffs. I think the only legitimate position for a government that supports same-sex marriage is to say to those territories it must stand there as it does here in the United Kingdom.” Mr Bryant added he “very much” valued the links between the UK and its overseas territories. He said: “I think of British citizens in Bermuda as being just as much a British citizen as a constituent of mine in Rhondda.” He added the close ties meant the UK was prepared to step in with help last year when Caribbean territories were hammered by hurricanes. Mr Bryant, who entered into a civil partnership in 2010, said: “That’s the kind of link we want to retain.” He added he believed Britain, where same-sex marriage was introduced in 2014, had a duty to intervene in Bermuda, as it should in Northern Ireland, where marriage equality is also illegal. Same-sex marriage in the province was blocked by the Democratic Unionist Party in 2015, despite support from a majority of Northern Ireland Assembly members. Mr Bryant said: “I would be telling the Government to do the same in Northern Ireland. When Labour was in government and we introduced civil partnerships, we said they had to happen in Northern Ireland.” The backbencher added that a reversal of marriage equality by the island’s government would signal to gay couples who have already wed that they were “not really” married, even if those marriages would still be considered legal. Mr Bryant said: “In the past, people thought homosexuality was something you chose. You chose to have sex with other men or other women.” But he added no one could seriously hold that view today. He said: “You’d be hard pressed to find a serious psychiatrist in the world who thinks it’s a mental health problem or that it’s a choice. I say God made me this way. I don’t think he would want me to live rejected by society or without the opportunity that love affords.” Monday’s debate will not result in a parliamentary resolution, but Mr Bryant said he hoped the British Government would pledge to stand by same-sex marriage and stand by its “strong links” with Bermuda. The Foreign Office said this month that it was “disappointed” by the Domestic Partnership Act, which passed in Parliament last month. But a spokeswoman added that “this is a matter for the Bermuda Government acting within the terms of the Bermuda Constitution and in accordance with international law”.

2017. December 22. RG Editorial. “Since Bermuda has a large measure of internal self-government, the British Government has no authority to intervene in this matter." Foreign Secretary David Owen, Autumn 1977. The notion that British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson could intervene in 2017 over the Bermuda legislature’s plans for same-sex marriage on the grounds that to ban it would go against “British values and principles” is utterly reprehensible. When set against a disturbing and redefining period in the history of this country, as the mother country refused infamously 40 years ago to get involved in the last act of capital punishment carried out here — notably eight years after the death penalty had been abolished in Britain, having been suspended four years earlier — any form of interference at this stage would be rightfully shouted down for touching the heights of hypocrisy and double standards. That is at the least; at the worst, it could spark a constitutional crisis. The deaths by hanging of Erskine “Buck” Burrows and Larry Tacklyn set in motion days of rioting, burning and looting — and more death — after repeated attempts to gain a Queen’s pardon were rebuffed. Jonathan Smith’s Island Flames recounts those horrific days and what led to them as though they were yesterday, the British Parliament taking the decision ultimately that the Queen could not be trusted to determine for herself whether the prerogative of mercy was warranted. Thus the ball was batted back into the court of the governor of the day, Sir Peter Ramsbotham, himself barely in tune with the Bermuda mood, given his newly minted status. His hands tied, Sir Peter acceded to the wishes of the government of the day, then headed by Sir David Gibbons, the leader of the United Bermuda Party — and Burrows was put to death for the assassinations of the Governor, Sir Richard Sharples, and his aide-de-camp, Captain Hugh Sayers. The Governor’s dog, Horsa the Great Dane, was also killed. Tacklyn was acquitted of the Government House murders but found guilty of the Shopping Centre killings of Mark Doe and Victor Rego, and was executed shortly before Burrows in the early hours of December 2, 1977. So with that as a pretty grisly backgrounder, why now would or could Britain look to dip its big toe into waters in which no one has paid the ultimate price? The mess over same-sex marriage was made in Bermuda and should be sorted out by Bermuda. Boris would be better served casting a glance across the Irish Sea, for the last time we checked Northern Ireland had yet to follow the rest of the United Kingdom in legalizing same-sex marriage. To play Big Brother to a smaller yet also self-governing “subordinate” would not go down too well at all. But not if you believe The Mail on Sunday. The British Sunday newspaper has a mass circulation approaching 1.3 million in Britain, making it the second-highest circulation weekend paper in Britain, after The Sun on Sunday. But as far as universal credibility is concerned, it and the Daily Mail, the sister paper whose ethos it shares, are not to be confused with the “quality press” in Britain — The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, the Financial Times and The Independent, which has resided solely online since March 2016. The final paragraph of the Daily Mail’s Wikipedia description provides a modicum of insight: “The Daily Mail has been widely criticized for its unreliability, as well as printing of sensationalist and inaccurate scare stories of science and medical research and of copyright violations.” Still trying to get over his foot-in-mouth moment from the state visit to Iran this month to speak on behalf of the detained Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an Iranian-British national charged with spying, Boris has his own credibility and suitability issues to contend with. As an Independent editorial concluded when he appeared to fan the flames in the theocratic republic by suggesting Zaghari-Ratcliffe was merely training journalists: “It would be wrong to move him [from his position] for a mistake for which he has apologized and sought to make amends. But he was a poor choice as Foreign Secretary in the first place, and his handling of the responsibilities of this great office has not been so impressive that he has made a compelling case for long service. When the Prime Minister, strengthened by her success in Brussels this week, comes to refashion her Cabinet in due course, there is a strong case for appointing as Foreign Secretary someone with more subtlety, principle and, above all, tact than the present incumbent.” It can be argued that the Foreign Secretary’s greatest contribution to British life came when as Mayor of London in 2010 he launched the Boris Bikes scheme that has had the effect of popularizing cycling through the country. But it is as a diplomat that Boris is now judged and with his contribution to a worrying Brexit and now the Iran incident on his CV, Bermuda should not be gagging to be used as a tool for “the floundering haircut” to sharpen his teeth. We have enough problems — and same-sex marriage is but one of them. The politicians have been beat up enough about this, and we shall beat them up some more. For, quite truthfully, they cocked it up. When given what proved to be an 18-month head start after Chief Justice Ian Kawaley ruled that gay couples had legal rights to be treated the same as heterosexual couples, they did nothing while all around them engaged in the cattiest of catfights. The timing of the next General Election was not helpful, for the parties had long shifted into electioneering mode, and what got lost were the people who are truly affected. Had the One Bermuda Alliance pushed through its Civil Unions Bill, much of today’s fuss might have been about nothing. That Bill, which has been tweaked in areas to now sit as the Domestic Partnership Act as presented by the Progressive Labour Party government, contained much of what gays have been fighting for throughout the 21st century. It would have put Bermuda in a quite unique position, as being the first country that is significantly slanted against gay marriage — for as far as could be determined through the ill-fated June 2016 referendum — to confer benefits making domestic partnerships marriage in everything but name. Given the uproar since Parliament passed the Act on to the Governor for Royal Assent, you would have thought that we had retreated to the pre-Stubbs era and banned homosexuality altogether. “Ashamed” Bermudians and those Bermudians and Bermuda residents who colluded to give #BoycottBermuda wings in social-media circles have done more reputational harm to the country than Walton Brown can have done during his worst excesses. By putting Bermuda in a spotlight so that even the likes of “Screaming” Howard Dean can take pot shots at us and urge his several thousand Twitter followers to steer clear of an island that he has yet to visit or appreciate, we risk cutting off our nose to spite our face. The final decision to be made is for the Governor and the Governor alone. He should find the solution far easier to arrive at than the more complex questions to be posed on Quiz Night during his casually low-key forays into the community. As part of a team, the Governor often would be minded to defer to a colleague’s superior local knowledge, but on the subject of rejecting a government Bill, especially one so emotive, this is one time when he would be ill-advised to leave it to Boris."

2017. December 18. Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary, is under pressure to veto Bermuda’s ban on same-sex marriage, a UK newspaper said yesterday. The Mail on Sunday, a conservative tabloid that sells around 1.28 million copies in Britain, added that John Rankin, the Governor, had taken “advice on requesting Mr Johnson’s authorization to veto the bill”. The newspaper also said Mr Rankin had to get approval from the foreign secretary before he could withhold consent on an Act passed by the island’s Parliament. The news came less than a week after the Senate backed the Domestic Partnership Bill, which is designed to replace same-sex marriage with a watered-down legal relationship open to both gay and straight couples. The Mail on Sunday said Mr Johnson’s position was “fraught with difficulties” and that a veto would “spark uproar and accusations of neocolonialism” in Bermuda. It added that if the Act is signed into law by Mr Rankin, Bermuda would face a backlash from a boycott of its tourism industry. A foreign office spokesman told Mail on Sunday: “The UK Government is a proud supporter of LGBT rights and continues to support same-sex marriage. While the UK Government is disappointed with the implications of this Bill, this is a matter for the Bermuda Government acting within the terms of the Bermuda Constitution and in accordance with international law.” The article, published yesterday, also quoted Chris Bryant, a former Labour government Overseas Territories Minister, who called on Mr Johnson to let Mr Rankin veto the Act. Mr Bryant said: “A British citizen, regardless of what part of Britain they’re from, should have the same rights. If approved, the law would make Bermuda the first country in the world to cancel gay marriage after previously allowing it.” Political heavyweights in the US have also hit out at the island’s removal of marriage rights. Howard Dean, a former presidential candidate, a former Governor of Vermont and one-time chairman of the Democratic Committee, tweeted on Friday: “Progressive Labour Party in Bermuda just eliminated gay marriage. Americans who really are progressives should find another vacation spot.” The tweet had nearly 1,500 re-tweets and more than 3,300 likes by yesterday afternoon. Same-sex marriage became law in England and Wales in 2013 and in Scotland, which has a devolved Parliament and its own legal system, a few months later in 2014. Same-sex marriage is not recognized in Northern Ireland after it was blocked by the hardline Democratic Unionist Party in the province’s Assembly. Civil partnerships for gay couples had become law nine years earlier and applied across the UK. Government House yesterday declined to comment on the Mail on Sunday story and referred to its statement last week that “in considering this matter, the Governor will continue to act in accordance with his responsibilities under the Constitution.”

2017. December 12. The Bermuda Government has signed a major tax agreement with the United States. The Country by Country Competent Authority Agreement means that the Government has satisfied the Internal Revenue Service’s data safeguards review and complies with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting tax transparency standards. Under the new agreement, Bermuda now automatically provides corporate income of Bermudian-based multinational enterprises that have any US income-generating activities. David Burt, the Premier, said: “The agreement we have put in place with the United States demonstrates Bermuda’s continued commitment to being transparent, co-operative and compliant with international tax authorities. As a leading jurisdiction in global tax transparency we will continue, without reservation, to show that Bermuda is no place to hide money. We stand by our call for other countries to meet the Bermuda Standard.” The agreement was said to complement Bermuda’s other automatic exchange of information agreement with the USA, signed in 2013 and designed to give access to income information on US taxpayers under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. The country by country treaty is also in line with an agreement signed on November 29, 2017 between Bermuda and the United Kingdom. The UK agreement, like the US agreement, enables the automatic reporting of corporate income on a country-by-country basis for UK tax enforcement purposes. Bermuda is the first UK Overseas Territory to sign a CbC Competent Authority Agreement with the UK and now also the USA.

2017. December 8. Bermuda is being unfairly targeted by international groups which show a “wilful lack of understanding” of the global economy, David Burt said today. The Premier insisted some European officials said the island is on the right track with its efforts on tax transparency when he took part in meetings last week. However, he said some non-governmental organisations are attempting to apply standards to Bermuda that are not applied to European Union, OECD and G20 jurisdictions. He was speaking in the House of Assembly, after the EU’s economic and financial affairs council, known as ECOFIN, reaffirmed Bermuda’s status as a co-operative tax jurisdiction. The British media highlighted how the island is among 47 jurisdictions warned to take extra steps to prevent corporate tax avoidance. Mr Burt told MPs: “Notwithstanding our sound regulatory environment and fair and transparent tax regime, Bermuda remains a target of some who seek to pursue a political agenda pushed through by certain international non-governmental organisations on global tax reform that seeks to apply standards to Bermuda and other offshore jurisdictions that are not applied to EU, OECD and G20 jurisdictions. Much of this unfair effort is based on inaccurate and misleading representations and a wilful lack of understanding of the efficient functioning of the global economy. Last week, following my meetings in London, I had the pleasure of speaking and meeting with Ministry of Finance officials from France and Germany. Those officials support Bermuda’s efforts and indicated that we were on the right track with our leadership in the area of global tax transparency. They suggested that Bermuda could serve as an example for other jurisdictions, and it is our intention to do so. Bermuda plays its part in the global effort for greater transparency in tax regimes. We will ensure that Bermuda fulfills the commitments we have made to the European Union Code of Conduct Group to further enhancements to our transparency regime, and will continue to offer our support to the EU and OECD in an effort to make their standards globally applicable across varying tax regimes. However, we will continue to aggressively fight any effort to place us in a disadvantaged position through unfair treatment based on inaccurate information, often promoted by NGOs and their supporters, designed to serve their own political ends. To this end we must continue our dialogue in Brussels and in other European capitals with senior Government and political influencers to protect Bermuda’s reputation and to ensure continued prosperity for Bermuda and Bermudians.” Mr Burt, who is also Minister of Finance, also repeated his statement that “Bermuda is not a place to hide money”. He said the island has demonstrated its commitment to transparency and fairness through participation in the Common Reporting Standard and Country by Country automatic reporting regimes. and by our membership in the OECD Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion & Profit Shifting. He added that any legitimate tax authority can request and receive information from Bermuda under 114 tax-transparency relationships pursuant to the OECD multilateral tax treaty. He said Brussels recognises Bermuda as a soundly regulated insurance market, and that it has achieved compliance with Solvency II, an achievement matched only by Switzerland and Japan.

2017. December 4. Opinion, by Michael Fahy, former Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities. "So which is it? Is the Government seriously considering the i-word (Independence) or not? You may recall that the Junior Minister of Home Affairs, Jason Hayward, who also happens to be the president of the Bermuda Public Services Union, was the first government official under the Burt Administration to publicly mention it on September 4 when he said: “We have to now look at independence as a viable option for our people so we can set our own agenda, so we can create our own system and so we can see our people get ahead.” You may also recall that it took seven full days before anyone from the Government actually denied that the i-word was being discussed by the Government. Interestingly, it was the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, Jamahl Simmons, who shot down the utterances of the Junior Minister of Home Affairs, not the Premier, when after being questioned by a participant at the Bermuda Captive Conference on September 11, he said: “The position is this; it was not in our platform, we have not discussed it.” A very definitive statement. However, when the junior minister uttered the i-word, many in the community believed that this was just the utterance of a person unskilled in the art of diplomacy wearing his BPSU hat and not the hat of a junior minister — that is a topic for another day — but others saw something else: a trial balloon to gauge the reaction of the wider community on the matter. After all, government-appointed senators are directly answerable to the Premier. This feeling was heightened after comments attributed to the Premier at the Progressive Labour Party black-tie gala on November 18, when he deliberately uttered the i-word in his speech, albeit to the PLP faithful. Coincidence? I think not. Why do I say this? Well, less than a week later, on November 24, the Premier said in a prepared statement to the House of Assembly in relation to his trip to London to attend an Overseas Territories conference, “the priorities for this year will highlight issues such as upholding our right to self-determination as enshrined under Article 73 of the United Nations Charter and that this continues to apply to the peoples of overseas territories, as the UK’s obligation”. The fact is Britain is not in breach of any legal obligations relating to Article 73 and, more importantly, no UN treaty or resolution has ever gone on to insist upon independence; rather it is encouraged where it is the express desire of the peoples of the territories in question. So if “we have not discussed it [independence]”, why mention it in a scripted statement at all? Further, in response to questions by MP Trevor Moniz about whether the Premier had intentions to take Bermuda to independence, the Premier reportedly laughed off questions and said that MPs should not be surprised to hear discussions about cutting ties with Britain, and that he was “endlessly amused” by opposition inquiries into the matter. He went on and said that the Opposition should focus “on its own agenda rather than that of the PLP” — ripe considering that the Opposition’s job is to focus on the Government. The glaring omission is any reported outright denial from the Premier. In my experience, there is no such thing as coincidence when it comes to David Burt, who is absolutely deliberate in everything he does. Interestingly, the person who has been suspiciously quiet on the matter has been the Minister of Home Affairs, Walton Brown. Or has he? Brown was, after all, a lone voice for many years when it came to independence, and it is arguable that his activity as Minister of Home Affairs is designed to try to create a constitutional crisis. Thus far he has presented one Bill to the Governor that restricts human rights and another one is on its way that reverses rights gained in respect of same-sex marriage, which by the way is legal in Britain — or, as the minister was quoted in Parliament as saying on October 6, our “colonial masters”. The amendment to the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 was signed into law and I suspect when the Domestic Partnership Act passes, this too will be signed, since no Governor wants to be in the middle of a constitutional crisis by refusing to. I should also add that Brown has taken the position that those who are granted status are more likely to vote in a referendum against independence, which helps to explain why the PLP is so anti-immigration. It has more to do with independence than it does about anything else. So when you start to listen, to really listen, and consider the various contradictory statements made by a junior minister as opposed to Cabinet minister — and then the words of the Premier and the actions of the Minister of Home Affairs — it would seem that the i-word really is on the agenda. It is being discussed. It is and remains an integral part of the PLP’s desires and wishes. The PLP’s constitution is clear at Article III, which says that the party is “to serve as a vehicle in moving Bermuda to independence by political education, information and public meetings so that the people of Bermuda can be fully informed of what independence for Bermuda means, and the party will work towards achieving the necessary electoral reforms, which are preconditions for Bermuda achieving nationhood”. The electoral reforms referred to in the PLP constitution have long ago been carried out. So perhaps clarity can be given to allay the concerns of many that the campaign for independence has already begun? For the Premier to be “endlessly amused” is dangerous. Questions relating to Bermuda’s constitutional future should not be treated so dismissively as some cheap parlor game. I am betting that the next election will be based on independence. I also am betting that the election either will be solely on that issue — that was the method reportedly preferred by the PLP in January 7, 1994 — or an independence referendum will be held the same day as an election. This is not far-fetched. The stealth campaign for independence has already begun."

2017. December 2. A “comprehensive review” of last year’s protests against the airport redevelopment project must examine the role played by then acting Governor Ginny Ferson, a Progressive Labour Party backbencher said yesterday. St George’s West MP Kim Swan said: “We must get to the bottom of it, and we can’t get to the bottom of it by bypassing the role that (Ms Ferson) had in this play. It would be wrong to hold anyone accountable without looking at the very top.” Swan’s motion, passed in the House with an amendment, calls for the appointment of a Joint Select Committee to examine the events surrounding the protests. The Committee will “look into the events generally, including the decision-making and any directives the Executive and the then Speaker of the House gave to the police”. Government House, Mr Swan said, “doesn’t get a free pass if it participates in an act”. He added: “Scrutiny and accountability is the name of the game.” Mr Swan said letting Ms Ferson “off the hook” for her role in the protest was “not going to happen”. He added: “Because it’s wrong if it does. And we can’t condone wrong.” PLP backbencher Michael Scott said he was “concerned and interested” from a “legal perspective” about the decision that led to citizens being pepper-sprayed. Mr Scott recommended that the wording of the motion be changed to reflect that the JSC can recommend sanctions “because this House need not and should not be making sanctions”. He added: “The sanctions are for the courts, if indeed the findings warrant sanctions. Civil, criminal sanctions are what I am referring to in this regard.” Christopher Famous, Devonshire East MP, described December 2 as “the worst day Bermuda has seen for some time”. He said the events had “without a doubt” changed the mindset of how Bermudians think of police officers and how Bermudians see each other through racial contexts. Mr Famous added: “In a time as a country that we need to have good relations between police officers and its citizens, this motion to get to the bottom of this would help.” Wayne Caines, Minister of National Security, said that “people in Bermuda on both sides are ready to heal”. Mr Caines added: “You cannot fix what you do not face.” Lovitta Foggo, Minister of Government Reform, said that family and friends were among those pepper sprayed and injured, with one person still suffering. She said many believed justice had not been served and it was “incumbent” on Parliament to set up a committee and ensure recommendations are followed. Ms Foggo added: “Justice mandates that the matter be properly addressed. The people deserve to have that situation looked at properly.” Craig Cannonier, shadow works minister, questioned if a Joint Select Committee would “have enough teeth to get the answers”. But he commended Mr Swan for bringing the motion, telling the House that this was “not a one-sided experience”. Mr Cannonier added of the protests: “I was disgusted. I was afraid. I was scared for the people that were down there. So I hope that the public doesn’t walk away from what we are discussing tonight thinking that only the Government felt distressed about this.” Diallo Rabain, Minister of Education, said: “It comes down to this. We know what happened. We need to figure out why it happened.” Mr Swan’s motion calls for the committee to submit a report of its findings to the House within three to six months.

2017. December 1. Non-Bermudians holding British Overseas Territories Citizen passports need a visa to visit the United States, Walton Brown warned today. The Minister of Home Affairs told the House of Assembly the issue was brought to light after the spouse of a Bermudian was denied entry to the US. He said: “There are persons who are not Bermudian but who possess BOTC status because they were born in Bermuda before 1983 or have been naturalized as BOTC citizens.” Mr Brown said that those holding BOTC passports that do not include the observation “Holder is registered as a Bermudian” will not be allowed to enter the US without a visa. He added: “Additionally, it should be noted that Bermudians traveling with BOTC passports that are not displaying the mentioned observation will not be eligible for entry to the US under the visa-exempt classification.”

2017. November 29. Bermuda and Britain have signed a Country by Country Competent Authority Agreement that will enable the automatic reporting of corporate income for UK-related transfer pricing enforcement purposes. Transfer pricing refers to the setting of the price for goods and services traded internally between divisions or subsidiaries of a larger parent company. Such transactions can take place across multiple countries. In the past, a number of jurisdictions, including Bermuda, have faced criticism because of the practice of multinational companies transferring billions of dollars of revenue to offshore holding companies. Some of those corporations have been accused of using such mechanisms to minimize their tax liabilities elsewhere. In a statement, the Bermuda Government said the agreement will complete the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Base Erosion and Profit Shifting tax transparency package between Bermuda and the UK. Similar to individuals under the Common Reporting Standard, corporations must also automatically report financial information to Bermuda authorities. Any reported UK-related income will be shared automatically with UK tax authorities. The OECD describes BEPS as tax-planning strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules that can allow multinational enterprises to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations where they have little or no economic activity, resulting in little or no overall corporate tax being paid. And the OECD sees its BEPS project as providing governments with solutions for closing the gaps in existing international rules, that currently allow corporate profits to “disappear” or be artificially shifted in such a manner. Bermuda is the first UK Overseas Territory to complete a CbC Competent Authority Agreement with Britain. David Burt signed the agreement today, during his overseas trip to London which also included yesterday meeting Theresa May, the British Prime Minister. The Premier said: “I am pleased to sign this important agreement with the United Kingdom on behalf of the people of Bermuda. We are the first Overseas Territory to sign the agreement which further solidifies Bermuda’s position as a global leader in international tax transparency. Bermuda remains a jurisdiction with an excellent reputation for quality. We continue to demonstrate leadership in global tax transparency and we encourage other countries to meet the ‘Bermuda Standard’.” In June, the Government created a new online portal to meet Bermuda’s obligations under the OECD common reporting standards and CbC automatic exchange of information regimes.

2017. November 24. Premier David Burt laughed off questions today about the Progressive Labour Party’s intentions to take Bermuda to independence. Members have publicly stated the Premier raised the subject at the party’s banquet at the Fairmont Southampton last Saturday night. But the Premier told MPs they should not be surprised to hear discussion over cutting ties with Britain, as it is included within the PLP’s constitution. Responding to parliamentary questions from Shadow Attorney-General Trevor Moniz that Mr Burt said he would be the premier to take Bermuda to independence, the Premier said he was “endlessly amused” by the Opposition’s inquiries into the matter. He told the House of Assembly: “Independence is inside of the PLP’s constitution, so whenever we have a meeting that matter is discussed.” He asked Mr Moniz to refer to the PLP’s platform and Throne Speech, which he said “sets out the agenda of this government”. Neither document refers to independence. Mr Burt added that the One Bermuda Alliance would be better off “focusing on its own agenda rather than that of the PLP”. When the idea of independence was raised in September, tourism minister Jamahl Simmons told members of a Bermuda Captive Conference: “The position is this: it was not in our platform, we have not discussed it.”

2017. November 23.  Premier David Burt said he welcomes the UK Government’s proposal for a new tax on digital revenues — which he expects to impact some Bermuda entities. In his Budget statement yesterday, Philip Hammond, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, said he planned to raise £200 million a year from a tax on the revenue of internet companies that avoid tax by transferring their profits overseas. Mr Hammond said: “Multinational digital businesses pay billions of pounds in royalties to jurisdictions where they are not taxed — and some of these royalties relate to UK sales. So, from April 2019, and in accordance with our international obligations, we will apply income tax to royalties relating to UK sales, when those royalties are paid to a low-tax jurisdiction.” A good example of this was Alphabet, the parent company of search-engine giant Google, transferring billions of dollars to a Bermuda-based subsidiary, which had no physical presence on the island, a widely reported case. Hence, the planned levy has been dubbed “the Google tax” in Britain. Mr Burt said today: “We welcome the Chancellor’s proposals to capture value on digital and other income originating in the UK, including presumably, on entities who currently have income allocated to Bermuda. We, of course, receive no income on these matters either.” During the UK Budget debate, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, brought up the public release of documents stolen from law firm Appleby. “It’s not as if this Government isn’t doing its best to protect tax havens and their clients in the meantime,” Mr Corbyn said. “The ‘Paradise Papers’ have again exposed how a super-rich elite is allowed to get away with dodging taxes. This government has opposed measure after measure in this House, and in the European Parliament, to clamp down on the tax havens that facilitate this outrageous leaching from the public purse.” Mr Burt also responded to Mr Corbyn’s remarks, stating that Bermuda had no place on any blacklist and that the island was recently given ‘whitelisted’ status by the Government of France. “There appear to be one or two misconceptions about the role of Bermuda and some other territories in the wider UK economic portfolio. As many know, since 2015 the automatic reporting regime means HM Revenue and Customs is informed real time of relevant corporate matters on the island.” He added that Bermuda is a recognized leader in international tax compliance and tax transparency with 114 tax treaty partners, and, as an early implementer of the Common Reporting Standard, is the first UK Overseas Territory to adopt country-by-country reporting.

2017. November 2. The Bermuda Government has hit back at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for comments he made about Bermuda during a fiery exchange with Theresa May in the UK Parliament yesterday. Mr Corbyn attacked the Prime Minister over her government’s record on curbing tax avoidance and evasion during Prime Minister’s Question Time. “The Isle of Man VAT avoidance allegations are part of a wider leak from the Bermuda-based law firm said to be of a similar scale to the Panama Papers,” Mr Corby said. “Will the Prime Minister commit the Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to fully investigate all evidence of UK tax avoidance and evasion from this leak and prosecute where feasible?’ But last night, a statement released by the Government described Mr Corbyn’s comments as “misinformed". The Government of Bermuda notes the statement by Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Opposition in the UK Parliament, which was misinformed,” a spokeswoman said. “The Government of Bermuda can confirm that Appleby Global is not Bermuda-based; its global management is based in Jersey. Bermuda is a recognized leader in international tax compliance and tax transparency with 114 tax treaty partners. The Opposition leader may not be aware that Bermuda was recently confirmed by the French Government as a ‘white-listed’ jurisdiction due to its excellent work on international tax transparency.” During his speech, Mr Corbyn claimed that Conservatives had opposed a French proposal in the European parliament to blacklist Bermuda as a tax haven.

2017. October 20. The need to educate other countries about Bermuda’s business reputation is intensified because of uncertainty in Europe, according to Premier David Burt. The Premier gave MPs a report on his recent trip to Brussels, Paris and London, in which he met with European Union Cabinet of Commissioner Pierre Moscovici. He told the House of Assembly: “I outlined the challenges within Europe to highlight the current uncertainty of politics in Brussels and across Europe. This uncertainty means that Bermuda will, now more than ever, need to continue to educate others about our business model and reputation. During my visit I had the opportunity to meet with the head of staff in the Cabinet of Commissioner Moscovici to begin this process of greater understanding. Our message is that Bermuda adheres to all international standards of tax transparency.”

He said these include:

Mr Burt continued: “Bermuda shares data upon request and through automatic exchange through our tax information exchange reporting portal. This portal has received Common Reporting Standards information from industry and has delivered it automatically to OECD members including EU member states via the OECD’s reporting portal. Bermuda’s portal is also now live for receiving CBC information from the applicable large multinationals headquartered in Bermuda. It will be able to upload this CBC information to the OECD portal by the middle of 2018.” He said during his discussion with OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria, Mr Gurria had praised Bermuda’s recent OECD rating of “largely compliant”. Mr Gurria also applauded Bermuda’s placement on France’s CBC reporting White List, and the measures taken on levels of transparency, Mr Burt said.

2017. October 12. Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, said yesterday he hoped that Bermuda passports will be printed on the island again within a year. The UK Government took over responsibility for printing passports for British Overseas Territories Citizens in June 2016 because of security concerns. But Mr Brown said there was no reason why Bermuda passports should be printed in the UK rather than in Bermuda. He added: “We are in the process of identifying what the costs would be of bringing the process back to Bermuda. The Request for Information is just about to go out. The challenging part of us is to persuade the UK Government to relinquish their control of the printing of our passports. We were doing it for an extended period of time and we never lost a passport. We have the technical ability on island and there is no defensible reason why the UK should hold on to the printing of our passports.” Mr Brown said that he would have to travel to the UK and meet British government representatives to bring the process back to Bermuda. He added: “My goal is to have it done within the year. I have one passport — I don’t want to get another, and when I get that passport renewed I want to get it printed here.” The relocation of the printing process to the UK has led to delays in passport issuing and complications with the coding, which now read GBR rather than BMU. This has created problems for people with a Bermuda passport entering the US from outside Bermuda, as some have been told they are required to have a US Electronic System for Travel waiver because they have the GBR code. But Bermudian status holders do not require an ESTA and it is technically illegal for Bermuda status holders to even apply for one.

2017. October 10. Diversifying Bermuda’s economy through the space industry is one of the routes being explored by the Government of Bermuda. It is a sector that has been pursued for a number of years, and the impetus will continue, according to Walter Roban, Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs. “Bermuda is seeking to expand and diversify its economy, and next steps with respect to the satellite and space industry are of critical importance,” he told MPs in Parliament on Friday. Now that Bermuda has secured its orbital slots and the Space Industry Bill is presently before the UK Parliament — the next step in regulating space flight activities — Bermuda must consider its options and what it has to offer.” Mr Roban was speaking about his visit to London in September, where he attended London International Shipping Week conferences and took part in meetings relating to shipping, investment, and transport. Beyond the shipping conference, the space industry was a topic of conversation with consultants, and the Deputy Premier said he had “fruitful discussions” that continued in Bermuda after he returned from Britain. He added: “I will have more to report on this in due course.” Bermuda has four orbital slots for satellites, one is occupied by the EchoStar VI satellite operated by the company Satellite Ventures (Bermuda) Ltd, which is a joint venture of SES Satellites (Bermuda) Ltd, and EchoStar Ltd. The satellite operates on the BermudaSat-1 network at 96.2°WL, and its potential markets include commercial, leisure and government consumers. However, a US-imposed moratorium that has been in place since 2005 has prevented access to the highly valued US market by all new licensed satellite networks, including Bermuda’s. The EchoStar VI satellite was launched in 2000 and brought into service on the BermudaSat-1 network in 2013. In March of last year, in a report to Parliament, it was stated that no commercial agreements had yet been made for the satellite, although SES continued to be “optimistic about the commercial prospects of BermudaSat-1”. In December, Grant Gibbons, who at the time was the Minister of Economic Development, spoke about meetings he had with Nasa officials in Washington DC. The discussions included the issue of the moratorium and suggestions on how Bermuda might proceed. Afterwards, Dr Gibbons said work was bring done with consultants “to consider various options and provide me with a recommendation as to the best course of action to put us into a position to finally maximize the commercial potential of our premier satellite orbital resource”. Bermuda’s involvement with the space industry stretches back to some the earliest days of Nasa’s space programme, with the agency operating a tracking station at Cooper’s Island from 1960 until 1997. This year, the island has hosted portable satellite tracking facilities operated by Nasa, the European Space Agency, and SpaceX. In London last month, Mr Roban was part of a Bermuda delegation that included representatives from the Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority, the Bermuda Business Development Agency, and a number of Bermudian-based companies. He said the group had promoted “Bermuda’s ‘blue-chip’ advantages to the international shipping sector”. Mr Roban also met with Transport for London to talk about technology and travel products. He said: “These included, for example, ‘pay as you go’ or pre-loaded cards such as the Oyster card, contactless payment — which requires a chip and PIN technology not yet widely available in Bermuda, ticket vending machines, biodegradable smart cards and travel apps.”

2017. September 15. Conversations about independence are “counterproductive at this time”, according to Premier David Burt. The Premier insisted the Progressive Labour Party is not discussing a potential attempt to break ties with Britain, and is focusing instead on local issues such as the economy and social challenges. PLP senator Jason Hayward had put the topic on the agenda in a Labour Day speech earlier this month, when he told the crowd: “We have to shift the conversation and remove ourselves from this colonial rule. We have to now look at independence as a viable option for our people so we can set our own agenda, so we can create our own system and so we can see our people get ahead.” Former PLP premier Alex Scott, a long-time advocate for independence, followed up by saying Bermuda’s new political climate could set the stage for another review over the issue. It also became the topic of opinion pieces within The Royal Gazette this week. Asked about independence yesterday, Mr Burt told this newspaper: “As I have said on numerous occasions, the only place where independence seems to be an issue is in the editorial office of The Royal Gazette. The Progressive Labour Party government is focused on growing the economy, dealing with the social challenges and reforming our education system. Those are our priorities and focus right now and that is where our focus will remain.” Asked if he supported independence, he said: “Independence is in the Progressive Labour Party’s constitution.” Pressed on his opinion, he reiterated: “Independence is in the Progressive Labour Party’s constitution but I believe that conversations and writings about independence is counterproductive at this time. We are not discussing, it’s not our focus. We are dealing with the issues which I just explained.”

2017. September 11. The new Progressive Labour Party government is to end military conscription. Governor John Rankin, who delivered the Throne Speech on behalf of government, said: “The Government will amend the Defence Act 1965 in consultation with the Governor to officially end conscription to the Royal Bermuda Regiment within this legislative session.” The Royal Bermuda Regiment has not used conscription for two years and relied on volunteers instead after the previous One Bermuda Alliance government suspended mandatory call-ups. But the OBA was criticised for not striking conscription off the books altogether. The Progressive Labour Party said in the run-up to the 2012 election that it would “move away” from mandatory conscription if re-elected. The OBA also pledged to eliminate conscription, but came under fire after it was revealed that the Defence Amendment Bill 2015 still allowed it “when voluntary enlistment leaves a shortfall in the required number of members”. But Michael Dunkley, then Premier, said that the OBA had delivered on its commitment as it was sure the RBR would attract enough volunteers to fill its role. The speech also said that the RBR will take over responsibility for inshore maritime patrolling from the Bermuda Police Service, with statutes being changed to allow soldiers to carry out “some law enforcement functions”. Mr Rankin said: “These changes augment the special constable training and designation earned by soldiers and will return police officers currently performing this function to core policing duties.”

2017. September 11. The Government plans to create a new police authority to help set priorities for the service. The Governor, John Rankin, who delivered proposals for the new session of Parliament, said the Commissioner of Police would keep operational control. But he added the proposed authority would bring together the Government, Government House, police and laymen to determine policing priorities and the funding required. The Throne Speech also promised that changes were planned for the Police Complaints Authority, and that a parliamentary committee to investigate the clash between protesters and police on December 2 last year would be set up. The Police Complaints Authority investigated the disorder in which police used pepper spray on demonstrators and concluded that officers involved did not commit misconduct. Mr Rankin said: “In the wake of the events of December 2, 2016, this government has determined that a greater balance must be struck in favour of those who rightly question the actions of the police. Therefore, during this session, legislation will be introduced to give ordinary citizens greater confidence in the independence of the Police Complaints Authority. These amendments will enable truly independent investigations in the case of complaints regarding police conduct. The Government will also establish a parliamentary committee to look into the events of December 2 to bring closure to this dark day in our country’s history.” The Government also announced plans to provide financial support for gang members who want to break away from involvement so they can further their education or learn a trade. The speech also reiterated promises to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis, develop a strategy to deal with cybercrime, appoint a gang-violence reduction co-ordinator and address drinking and driving by introducing tougher penalties and sobriety checkpoints.

2017. September 6. Former premier Alex Scott believes Bermuda’s new political climate could set the stage for another review over independence. Mr Scott was a strong advocate for splitting ties with Britain during his tenure from 2003 to 2006, but did not push for a referendum, as he concluded Bermudians were not ready to make the leap However, after Senator Jason Hayward, of the Progressive Labour Party, called for independence to be high on the political agenda during Labour Day celebrations, Mr Scott told The Royal Gazette: “Mr Hayward is indicative of someone who holds a very important position who thinks we should review at least this subject — and there may be others. This is now a different time and a different political place to that which existed when I was premier.” The PLP, which has viewed independence historically as a long-term goal, claimed 59 per cent of the popular vote in a landslide General Election victory on July 18, and now has 24 seats to the One Bermuda Alliance’s 12 — comfortably the largest majority it has ever enjoyed. Asked whether he believes there is support within the governing party for independence, Mr Scott said that would be a question for David Burt, the Premier. Mr Burt declined to comment on the matter when approached by this newspaper. A referendum in 1995 revealed an overwhelming lack of support for independence — some 73 per cent voted against it — but Mr Scott re-ignited the conversation during his premiership with a series of debates and a report from the Bermuda Independence Commission. Yesterday, Mr Scott described the airport deal as a prime example of where Bermuda could have benefited from being independent. “We have something like the issue of whether we develop the airport as the former government committed Bermuda to and — Great Britain as far as we can determine — agreed with the government of the day and ratified that going forward. It was for Britain to decide yea or nay. There was strong feeling against it in Bermuda but the government of the day chose to ignore the very large body of opinion against developing the airport as the OBA had prescribed, and the British went along with them. We cannot truly be a democratic community as long as another parliament can hold the deciding determination over what we do. Bermuda is not an unfettered democracy — it is not one that is complete. Our future is not totally in our hands.” In 2005, the Commission noted Bermudians were divided over independence, and called for public meetings and parliamentary debates on the issue. Mr Scott said its report should be revisited. He said: “Independence is a subject that warrants review from time to time. The notion of self-determination or independence was taken up by myself and my administration when I was premier for discussion and consideration. As a consequence, there was a robust report written by an independent and diverse committee that concluded — when one considers the mechanics of self-determination — that there was no reason that Bermuda should not proceed to independence. There is no political or economic reason, that committee concluded at the time, to inhibit Bermuda. If one reads the report it might be helpful for any interested Bermudian to go through it. It is very comprehensive. It ended up with us having in our possession a blueprint for the way forward if one wants to seriously consider it. It would be helpful to revisit that report and then update it — then we can consider its conclusion in the light of our current status and position. Then it is left — as the British have identified and I have always maintained — that it is up to Bermudians.” Asked whether he would like to see another referendum, Mr Scott added: “It could be decided at the next General Election. The government of the day could put it on their agenda at the next General Election. If the government won the election with significant and workable majorities as we have now, we could then — if it was so determined — make it an item for a referendum or consider other options. It is for the majority of Bermudians to demonstrate their willingness to move in that direction.” Governor John Rankin declined to comment on independence when contacted by this newspaper.

2017. August 25. A new Immigration Act could be introduced next year to address inequities in the present system, according to Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs. Mr Brown also pledged that the new government would “explore with a level of urgency” how to resolve the complications linked to Bermudian passports being printed in the UK. He told The Royal Gazette that he would work to find a way for Bermudian passports to be printed on the island again. “The British are being obstinate and have taken away our ability to produce our own passports,” Mr Brown said. “This, in turn, has created a complication with the coding of these passports, which have been given GBR rather than BMU. This has created a challenge for Bermudians with a Bermuda passport trying to enter the US from outside Bermuda. Some have been told they are required to have the ESTA waiver. However, Bermudian status holders do not require an ESTA; so it is technically illegal for Bermuda status holders to even apply for an ESTA. Our goal is to get the Bermuda passports reprinted with the Bermuda code, and ultimately get the Bermuda passports printed in Bermuda again. Bringing back the code is the short-term remedy. Printing these passports in the UK also creates an unnecessary eight-week delay in getting your passport. We will explore with a level of urgency how this process can be brought back to Bermuda.” Mr Brown also stressed the importance of Bermuda having a voice as the UK pursues its Brexit agenda. He said: “The UK is moving forward to protect and pursue its interests, but those are the interest of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, not the Overseas Territories. Prime Minister May is putting the UK’s interests first and we need to ensure we have a seat to promote our interests.” During his first interview since taking the reins of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mr Brown elaborated on how the new Progressive Labour Party would look to implement comprehensive immigration reform. He vowed that his party’s approach would be consultative and collaborative, and involve the creation of a bipartisan committee when the House of Assembly reconvenes on September 8. Mr Brown previously outlined how the existing Immigration Reform Working Group has been given a new mandate to recommend principles relating to mixed-status families: additional categories of Permanent Resident certificates and additional categories of Bermudian status. The group will produce a final report at the end of October, which will then be subjected to public consultation until the New Year. “We know at the end of the process not everyone will be happy,” he said. “I do not expect everyone to be happy, but I expect people to think it was a fair and just process. This is a very important issue which involves laws, rights and privileges that are fundamental. We have seen different interest groups and we have heard rhetoric on many sides; it is politically salient and volatile, so it is fundamentally important we get the right balance. The current work permit policy is being examined and being revised; some tweaks will be coming out imminently that involve security. We have already met with the musicians union to fix the policy which marginalized their ability to work. There are many things in the current immigration policy that are unbalanced and will be addressed. Policy changes are imminent, although some things are technical matters.” Mr Brown told The Royal Gazette: “Our long-term plan is to introduce an entirely new Immigration Act; many components of the old Act have been tinkered with over the decades which has proven problematic. We need a clear and simple framework. I would be frustrated if that took two years; I am inherently impatient and think one year should be more than enough time. But having said that we will still do intervening reforms; like the plight of families who have status but whose children are unable to get work permits. I don’t want to see policies that lead to the fragmentation of families.”

2017. April 28. Britain’s imminent departure from the European Union should not impact Bermuda’s ability to successfully negotiate with the EU on matters of regulation and securing fair access to the EU market for the island’s insurance and financial services sector. That is the view of Jeremy Cox, chief executive officer of the Bermuda Monetary Authority. A year ago, Bermuda achieved Solvency II equivalence, with the EU recognizing that the island’s insurance regulation is at the same level as the EU’s new and enhanced insurance rules. It was the culmination of many years of effort and negotiation, led by the BMA, to ensure that commercial insurers and reinsurers based in Bermuda are not competitively disadvantaged when they do business in the EU. Mr Cox said that while Britain was not insignificant in the process of Bermuda gaining Solvency II equivalence, it was primarily Bermuda that negotiated the arrangements. Last month, Britain triggered a two-year process to leave the 28-nation EU. Mr Cox is confident that even when Britain no longer has a presence in the bloc’s decision-making mechanism, Bermuda will continue its negotiating and relationship channels with the EU. “We have never had questions about our linkage to the UK. People have always treated us as a third country, independently seeking to get equivalence,” said Mr Cox. “I don’t want to say that the UK were insignificant in the process. Every trip that I made to the UK, I always made a point of touching base with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and with Treasury, to give them an update on what we were doing and our progress, to pick their brain, to see if there was any intelligence they were gathering to suggest that we were not on the right track. So it was a useful process. But I believe the efforts of the BMA, the Bermuda Government, and certainly the significant efforts of organisations like Abir, won equivalence for Bermuda as opposed to anything else. They had to trust us. All along the way it was the face of Bermuda, and primarily the face of the BMA, that was needed to build trust and provide a technical overview of what we were doing in Bermuda and whether or not it was considered equivalent with Solvency II.” Mr Cox paid tribute to the team effort that secured the success, noting key roles played by the BMA’s Craig Swan, managing director of insurance supervision, and Shauna MacKenzie, director of legal policy enforcement. And Mr Cox recalled the former Governor, Sir Richard Gozney, attending a conference in 2011 with the then-Premier Paula Cox, “making it clear to the European Commission and other European regulators, that Bermuda has the ability to negotiate these type of arrangements independent of the UK”. He added that Sir Richard and Ms Cox met with “key influential people” within the EU Commission and members of the European parliament to spread that message, and had done “a very good job”. Late last year Bermuda avoided being placed on an EU blacklist after Britain blocked a French-led proposal that would have automatically branded the island a tax haven. Jurisdictions with zero per cent corporate tax rate, such as Bermuda, would have been denounced as potentially “non-co-operative” under the proposed change. While the BMA does not deal with tax policy, Mr Cox offered a personal view on how the island can stand its ground by showing its value to the EU. He said Bermuda has established its relevance to the EU through its insurance market. “We are supplying a significant contribution to Europe in the form of reinsurance coverage that has aided the European insurance market by helping them to lower costs for their consumers, and also spread and diversify risk.” As examples, Bermuda insurers and reinsurers covered half the insured losses from the sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Italy in 2012, and covered about 20 per cent of the estimated $1 billion market loss for the 2009 Air France crash in the Atlantic. Mr Cox said Bermuda would not have been able to get through even the first stage of the Solvency II equivalency assessment if it had not been able to show its relevance to Europe. “The fact that we were one of three jurisdictions that were assessed, signifies that they understood and connected with that, and recognized how important Bermuda is.” Mr Cox said that a week ago, while he was in London, an individual in Brussels mentioned to him that Bermuda has been able to distance itself from many other third-county jurisdictions because of the equivalence exercise. “People look at us very differently because of that and we will be judged favorably because of that. We are a partner and contributor to Europe’s success, not detracting from it,” Mr Cox said. And regarding possible tax changes in the US, he said it was a similar argument, with Bermuda, through the detailed work of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, able to demonstrate the contribution and benefits the island’s market makes to the US. Mr Cox spoke to The Royal Gazette at the Risk and Insurance Management Society’s annual conference in Philadelphia this week. For many years the BMA has been part of the Bermuda delegation at Rims, which attracts 10,000 insurance leaders from across North America and elsewhere. Explaining why it was important for the BMA to be present, Mr Cox said: “Regulation is always going to be a critical issue to someone making decisions about whether or not to come into Bermuda. If we were to disconnect from this, there are too many questions that wouldn’t get answered. Being part of it is what we have always said about Bermuda being a one-stop shop. You have everybody here, you can touch the industry, you can touch the Government and you can touch the regulator — and that gives you a good sense of what you would expect in Bermuda. You get the questions answered as opposed to having some questions answered and some unanswered. So the decision-making process is much faster. People always get a better feeling towards a jurisdiction if they can leave something like this with their questions answered. It would be foolhardy for BMA to pull away from ‘Team Bermuda’ and decide it is not going to attend this kind of event. It’s the partnership and the team approach that has really benefited Bermuda for so long, so let’s continue and enhance it.”

2017. April 11. A gift of Easter lilies has been sent to the Queen, picked by Governor John Rankin. The flowers were grown by Manuel DeSilva Jr on fields that his family has farmed for more than 40 years. The bouquet is to be sent courtesy of British Airways, and should reach Windsor Castle tomorrow.

2017. March 30. Premier Michael Dunkley said the Bermuda Government was “closely following” developments after the United Kingdom began the process to leave the European Union. The announcement from the Premier comes after British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty yesterday. The move signals the beginning of a legal process needed for Britain to leave the EU. Last month, Mr Dunkley and Minister of Finance Bob Richards travelled to London for discussions ahead of the move. “Our obligation as leaders and representatives of the Overseas Territories was to ensure that we explore all relevant opportunities and uphold our economic stability throughout the negotiation process,” the Premier said last night. “We agreed with the UK that when it leaves the European Union, the strong relationship we have with the EU and the important mutual trade and business links we share should continue.” The Premier said he would meet leaders in June for the next phase of negotiations. Mr Dunkley said the UK and Overseas Territories governments would continue to work towards adopting a “joint framework” for dialogue on three agreed priority areas of interest in relation to the EU — market access and trade, borders and free movement, and EU funding.

2017. March 21. Applications made by three out of the four Uighurs living in Bermuda for naturalization are being reviewed by the British Government, MPs heard yesterday. Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Minister for Home Affairs, provided the update in response to questions from Progressive Labour Party MPs during the budget debate of her ministry’s spending. “The UK Government is currently reviewing the naturalization applications of three of the four Uighurs,” she said. “If that is granted they can then obtain passports. This is a very positive development.” Walton Brown, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, asked Ms Gordon-Pamplin what had changed to allow the UK to state publicly that they were reviewing the applications. Ms Gordon-Pamplin responded: “The response I have been given is that they have been on island over five years with indefinite permission to stay so they are eligible to apply under the British Nationality Act.” She said she did not know why only three of the four Uighurs’ applications were being reviewed. The four Uighurs, Abdullah Abdulqadir, Khalil Mamut, Ablikim Turahun and Salahidin Abdulahad, who are originally from Chinese Turkestan, were secretly brought to Bermuda from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in 2009. They have remained stranded and stateless in Bermuda ever since then and unable to leave the island.

2017. March 8. Governor John Rankin is to host a Commonwealth reception on March 13 at Government House. The reception intends to commemorate Commonwealth Day and also to promote the Commonwealth Scholarship Programme in Bermuda. The Governor would like to receive as many Commonwealth Scholarship alumni as possible. Commonwealth alumni living and working in Bermuda should call 292-3600 and speak to the executive officer Barry Bobin-Martin who will provide more details. The reception will take place at Government House on Langton Hill, Pembroke, from 6pm to 9pm. This year’s theme will be the promotion of a Peacebuilding Commonwealth

2017. March 6. The Bermuda Hospitals Board had its budget cut in part because it had amassed $100 million in cash reserves, according to Bob Richards. Speaking during the debate on the 2017-18 Budget in the House of Assembly, the Minister of Finance noted the $25 million in budget cuts to the BHB, saying that the move would have no effect on service. Explaining the decision, he told the House: “The BHB was sitting on $100 million in cash. “At least $50 million of that they didn’t need for their operations. So we said in the budget we are going to make an adjustment and we have done so and it will have zero effect on service in this country.” Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health and Seniors, had previously cited “continued modernization, cost cutting and other efficiencies as well as reserves” as reasons that the 13 per cent budget cut to the ministry would not affect service. The Ministry of Health and Seniors had previously been the top budgeted item, however debt service claimed that title in the 2017-18 Budget.

2017. March 3. Premier Michael Dunkley has reached out to Government House regarding the stateless son of one of Bermuda’s four Uighurs who is in need of medical attention overseas. On Tuesday, this newspaper highlighted the dilemma of five-year-old Muhammad Abdulqadir who is suffering pains in his groin that multiple doctors in Bermuda have been unable to diagnose. Muhammad and his father Abdullah, as well as the other three Uighurs who have been living here since 2009 and some of their children, remain stateless and are not permitted to leave the island — even in the event of a medical emergency. This newspaper contacted Government House earlier this week to ask whether it had any power to move things forward and was told the matter is now in the hands of the UK government while the UK Home Office has refused to comment. However, in light of the boy’s situation, The Premier has made contact with Government House to request it look into the matter. Mr Dunkley told The Royal Gazette: “The comment from Government House earlier this week that the matter is with the UK is correct. However, we are very concerned for the health and welfare of all people in Bermuda. When a young person is ill and in need of treatment, it is human compassion to want to step in — it is natural we do our best to help someone in need and make sure they get the treatment required. I have reached out to Government House and they are looking into it. Unfortunately, we can not make the decision but Government House is considering the matter.” Former premier Ewart Brown and former Minister for National Security David Burch brought the Uighurs to Bermuda in 2009 without the knowledge or required consent of the UK government. The deal made with the Obama administration gave the men sanctuary after seven years detained in Guantánamo Bay for crimes they were cleared of but they have been here ever since as stateless persons. It has been suggested by the men's’ lawyer in Bermuda, Richard Horseman of Wakefield Quin, that the way they were brought to Bermuda may have had some impact on the time taken to process their documents. Dr Brown gave a brief statement saying it would be a “travesty” if the boy was unable to receive the overseas medical attention he needs and implied that both the UK and Bermuda governments had a part to play. He told us: “I have to believe the UK and Bermuda governments will do the right thing and ensure that this innocent child receives the necessary medical care — it would be a travesty to do otherwise.” We asked Dr Brown whether he felt any responsibility for the delay, whether he could make amends with the UK government and whether he would have done anything differently in hindsight but answers were not forthcoming. Mr Dunkley responded to the comment to say: “For the former premier to say he hopes we do the right thing is interesting when he brought them here under the cloak of darkness without informing his Cabinet or the UK authorities. We are now suffering the consequences of those actions. It makes it very difficult when you make a decision that you do not have the authority to make and expect everyone else to try to correct the decision over the passage of time. We will follow up on the issue in this regard and, more generally, regarding the Uighurs’ citizenship. If we don’t deal with it, it is not going to go anywhere.”

2017. March 1. Government House has refused a public access to information request to release correspondence about the four Uighurs who came to Bermuda from Guantánamo Bay. The Royal Gazette asked for the correspondence on January 17, but Deputy Governor Ginny Ferson rejected the application. Ms Ferson, information officer for Government House, wrote: “Your request for information has been carefully considered but the records you are seeking are exempt from disclosure under sections 32 (national security, defence and international relations) and 33 (Governor’s responsibilities and communications with the United Kingdom) of the Public Access to Information Act 2010.” This newspaper requested: “All correspondence on the four Uighurs who came to Bermuda on June 11, 2009 from Guantánamo. This would be correspondence between Government House and the US authorities, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Bermuda Government, between January 1, 2009 and today’s date.” The Pati Act does provide an exemption in cases where the disclosure of information could prejudice the security or defence of the island or relations with another state or where it contains information communicated in confidence by another state. It also includes an exemption for information relating to the responsibilities of the Governor under the Constitution “the disclosure of which could prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs” and communications between the Office of the Governor and departments of the Government of the United Kingdom. But the Act also states, under both sections 32 and 33, that “a record shall be disclosed if disclosure of it is in the public interest”. Ms Ferson’s letter does not detail whether the public interest test was applied to our Pati request but we have requested an internal appeal of her decision by Governor John Rankin. The Uighurs — Khalil Mamut, Abdulla Abdulqadir, Ablikim Turahun and Salahidin Abdulahad, who are originally from Chinese Turkestan — were brought to Bermuda from Cuba after Ewart Brown, who was then Premier, and former national security minister David Burch struck a deal with the United States, without the United Kingdom’s knowledge. Dr Brown told a press conference on the day they arrived that the men were “landed in Bermuda in the short term, provided with the opportunity to become naturalized citizens and thereafter afforded the right to travel and leave Bermuda, potentially settling elsewhere”. But almost eight years later, they remain in limbo, without passports and unable to leave the island. Their young children are in the same position. As revealed by this newspaper yesterday, Mr Abdulqadir is pleading with British authorities to let his five-year-old son receive specialist medical treatment overseas for pains in his groin, which doctors here have been unable to diagnose. According to their lawyer, Richard Horseman, all four men have applied for themselves and their children to be naturalized as British overseas territory citizens but have not heard back on their applications. In addition to the Pati request to Government House, The Royal Gazette has also made requests to the Department of Immigration and the Cabinet Office for records concerning the Uighurs. The request to Immigration sought records held by the Department on the former prisoners, including any permission they or their dependents have to live and work in Bermuda and any rejections issued for Bermudian status, permanent residency or other immigration status. A response, including eight pages of records, was received by this newspaper at 5pm yesterday and is being reviewed. The Cabinet Office has asked that we narrow our Pati request, which asked for: “All correspondence between the Cabinet Office, including the Premier, and the US authorities regarding the four Uighurs . . . from January 1, 2009 to [January 17, 2017].” The Cabinet Office’s information officer said: “The request received as presented appears to be too broad, and could result in a refusal on administrative grounds.” The officer said the number of records requested would likely cause a “substantial and unreasonable interference” with the work of the department. This newspaper is considering the request to revise.

2017. February 11. Premier Michael Dunkley said that he has fought to retain the ability of Bermudians to move freely through the EU during Brexit talks. Speaking in the House of Assembly yesterday morning about his recent trip to the UK, the Premier said: “The greatest concern for most Bermudians is free movement of our people within the EU, a matter we discussed with the Home Office’s director for EU exit immigration policy. “The main EU Treaty provision relevant for the free movement of people will no longer apply. Nevertheless, my fellow colleagues and I were strong and united in our advocacy for the retention of free movement of British Overseas Territory Citizens throughout the EU after the UK exit.” Mr Dunkley noted that the Overseas Territories derive considerable benefits due to their association with the EU, including funding, trade privileges, political access and profile in addition to free movement through the region. “A major concern is that a UK exit from the EU would remove all of these benefits,” he said. “For some Territories European Development Fund (EDF) support represents 60 per cent of their overall budget. With the UK exit from the EU, these territories will face challenges in retaining access to future EDF allocations.” He said that Lord Bates, the Minister of State for the Department for International Development, has indicated that the UK allocates €4.78 billion to its EDF contribution. “Once the UK leaves the European Union their overall commitment to the EDF will be subject to discussion as to how it is spent on international developmental aid,” the Premier said. “Territory Leaders have asked that the UK uphold its position that OTs can be the first call on this aid. In the view of the Territories, it is an important and moral obligation to push the UK Government to provide a firm commitment on the retention of the benefits those Territories currently derive from their Association with the EU. Moving forward, we have to remember that life goes on after Britain departs the European Union. It is in no one’s interest to have uncertainty on the future, particularly on the economic stability of Britain and its devolved administrations including Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.”

2017. February 8. Premier Michael Dunkley concludes the latest round of Brexit talks in London today regarding the impact on the Overseas Territories of Britain’s departure from the European Union. As he prepared to head to a courtesy meeting with Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, Mr Dunkley called it “heartening” that the British Government “understands the positions of the OTs, and that commitment is still there” on the implications of Brexit. Meanwhile, a proposal tabled by the opposition Labour Party, which would force the territories to draw up a register of owners of offshore companies, is unlikely to win approval, Mr Dunkley said. “The Government has stated that they do not support the Bill,” the Premier said, adding that his meeting with Ben Wallace, the Minister of State for Security, would still proceed today as a necessary measure to reinforce Bermuda’s position. “We can’t afford to take anything lackadaisically,” Mr Dunkley said, warning the amendments proposed to the Criminal Finance Bill came with “potentially far-reaching implications”. Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance Bob Richards, also in London, already denounced the tax legislation in an interview with The Guardian newspaper on Monday. A meeting yesterday morning at the Chinese Embassy enabled the Premier to build on the “relatively new relationship” with China and discuss tourism and reinsurance. Officials “know of Bermuda, but did not know much about it”. Brexit is no simple process: the departure from the EU will drag on for more than two years, Mr Dunkley said, with market access, EU funding, trade and freedom of movement high on the OTs’ lists. Bermuda was elected to chair a preparatory session, with a subsequent meeting chaired by Baroness Anelay and including Robin Walker of the Department for Exiting the European Union. Discussions on international trade topped the Bermudian concerns, Mr Dunkley said, as the island does not receive EU funding streams. Mr Dunkley also gave a formal request to Baroness Anelay for the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women to be extended to cover the island, which Cabinet has approved. The convention can be extended to Bermuda “rather seamlessly”, Mr Dunkley said, and a statement can be expected during this Friday’s session of the House of Assembly.

2017. February 8. Strong comments by finance minister Bob Richards in The Guardian newspaper were “right on” in defending Bermuda’s reputation, Premier Michael Dunkley said, adding that he had discussed the interview with Mr Richards. “We are here together, so we had a general conversation about the interview — the minister has been working on these matters for the whole tenure of this Government, and I have complete confidence in him.” It was not the first time that Mr Richards floated the idea of pursuing independence should Britain’s interest run counter to those of the island. This resurfaced in The Guardian on Monday when he said Bermuda remained aligned with Britain but “if that changes then we will have to think of ourselves”. “I don’t support that remark,” Mr Dunkley said when asked if he had addressed that particular line in advance with the Deputy Premier. “The Bermudian people have been very clear that, at this stage, they are very comfortable with the current constitutional arrangement. It’s a never-ending battle. Look how we fought for Solvency II, our work with the UK’s former Prime Minister Cameron on corruption, and how Mr Richards got us off the blacklist in the European Union.” The UK Government “has a good understanding of what Bermuda does — our tax regime has not changed for years”, Mr Dunkley said. “[But] because we are a smaller jurisdiction, some think they can push us around because they’re looking for revenue for themselves. We will get our message across and stand up and lobby in the right areas.” Mr Dunkley added that he had “talked more about Bermuda” today in interviews with the BBC, prior to his return to the island tomorrow.

2017. February 6. Bermuda’s finance minister Bob Richards has fired a broadside at the UK’s hypocrisy over tax legislation. Speaking to The Guardian newspaper, Mr Richards blasted Britain’s bid to have its Overseas Territories establish public registers of the owners of offshore companies and said the UK should get its own house in order. And he repeated the warning that Bermuda would consider independence if British interests collided with the island’s. Mr Richards said the UK itself “is a tax haven” and pointed to its non-domicile laws that allow foreigners to live in Britain but not pay tax on their overseas income. The Deputy Premier is in London with Michael Dunkley, the Premier, for talks with the British government on Brexit. He said: “You have more billionaires resident in London than any place on earth. They are not here for the weather, they are here for the tax climate. We have a double standard going on here.” He added: “We have a much more transparent, much cleaner system than the countries that promulgate these rules in the first place. The popular notion that somehow there is something nefarious going on in a small island that is relatively successful is false.” A British parliament cross-party group of MPs, led by Margaret Hodge, a former Labour minister, has called for an amendment to the UK criminal finances bill to force the Overseas Territories to follow the UK in creating a public register of company ownership by 2020. Bermuda, unlike the UK, has had a central register of company ownership for decades which is shared with other governments if requested, but is not public. But Mr Richards said: “There is a thing is this world called privacy and at least in my island privacy still exists. There is no public right to know anybody’s private business.” He told the left-leaning Guardian: “The register in Bermuda is there to protect the government’s reputation ... it is not the public’s business. We are not here to tell you who is doing business in Bermuda.” Bermuda, which has just become chair of the UK Overseas Territories Association, is now leading the charge against the proposed Hodge amendment. Mr Richards said that there was no reason for Bermuda to make its register public while US states like Delaware, Wyoming and Nevada maintained private registers of company ownership. He added: “We cannot move to a standard that our major trading partner has not adopted. We may very well lose business. Would you take that chance?” Mr Richards said that the island’s Government was prepared to listen to the UK, but would protect its own interests. Mr Richards warned last year that Bermuda “would not hesitate” to break its ties with Britain if the country were to be threatened by Brexit. He said: “At the moment, our interests are aligned, but if that changes then we will have to think of ourselves. This amendment being proposed is not in the interests of Bermuda.”

2017. February 6. Premier Michael Dunkley will this week represent Bermuda and the Overseas Territories in meetings about the potential impact of Brexit. The Premier has travelled to London for the UK Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council (UK OT JMC) on European Negotiations in the wake of Bermuda being elected the head of the UK Overseas Territories Association. A spokeswoman for the Premier said: “Part of Bermuda’s role is to represent OT’s by leading and engaging in high-level discussions regarding Brexit’s potential effect on the territories.” Mr Dunkley will be joined by Bob Richards, the Deputy Premier, and Derrick Binns, the Secretary to the Cabinet, on the trip, which will involve a series of meetings. “The Premier will meet with Baroness Anelay to formally request Bermuda’s participation in the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women,” the spokeswoman said. “Mr Dunkley and the Government of Bermuda are keen to ensure that Bermuda has the convention extended to us as the Government has made ‘good progress’ with CEDAW, with extensive work being completed on a series of 13 CEDAW compliance templates provided by the UK Government Equalities Office. “Additional engagements include a courtesy visit of all the OT Leaders with British Prime Minister Theresa May and David Davis, the Secretary of State for exiting the European Union.” Mr Dunkley is also set to meet with Ben Wallace, the Ministry of State for Security, to discuss amendments to the Criminal Finance Bill, and representatives of the Chinese Embassy based in the UK. The Premier is expected to return to the island on Thursday.

2017. February 2. Governor John Rankin has called for calm ahead of potentially contentious House of Assembly sessions. Mr Rankin issued a short statement commending Commissioner of Police Michael DeSilva for revealing his security plans as Parliament prepares for its reopening tomorrow. “I welcome yesterday’s statement by the Commissioner of Police sharing the policing plan for the upcoming sessions of the House of Assembly,” Mr Rankin said in a statement. "In accordance with Bermuda’s democratic traditions it is important both that any protests are peaceful and conducted lawfully, and that the House of Assembly is able to meet and carry out its business. I trust that any differences of view in Bermuda can continue to be discussed and settled in a calm fashion in the interests of all of its citizens.” The last scheduled House sitting, on December 2, sparked confrontations which saw protesters against the airport redevelopment pepper-sprayed by police officers. That matter is due for debate on Friday next week. At a press conference yesterday, Mr DeSilva said there would be no access for members of the public to the grounds of the House tomorrow, to ensure MPs cannot be blocked from entering and to safeguard against any injury to the public. No members of the public will be permitted through any of the House gates. Parliament Street will be restricted to one lane for traffic on the western side, between the junctions of Reid Street and Church Street. The eastern side of Parliament Street — the side closest to Sessions House — will be reserved for pedestrians. If more space is required, Reid Street could be closed to vehicles after the 9am rush hour, between the junctions of Court Street and Parliament Street. That would create two designated “protest areas” on Parliament Street and Reid Street. The public gallery of the House — with its maximum capacity for 37 people — will be open and anyone wanting to enter should speak to police at the Parliament Street gate.

2017. February 1. Premier Michael Dunkley will be in London for Brexit negotiations next week. The Premier will represent the island as formal Joint Ministerial Council talks begin over Britain’s departure from the European Union. According to a Cabinet Office press release, part of his job will be to ensure that all Overseas Territories secure the highest level of dialogue with the British Government. It comes after Bermuda was elected to the role of chairmanship of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association, with Mr Dunkley becoming president of the Political Council, and the chairman role going to Kimberley Durrant, UK Representative of the Government of Bermuda London Office. The press release says Joint Ministerial Council European Negotiations with the Department for Exiting the European Union will start on Monday. “It should be noted that the Premier will be in London next week to represent Bermuda at the negotiations. At the meeting, Mr Dunkley, in his newly appointed role as president of the Political Council, will chair a high level political meeting of leaders.” He will be joined by finance minister Bob Richards and Cabinet Secretary Derrick Binns.

2017. January 26. The senior military representative at the British Embassy in Washington has paid a flying visit to the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s latest recruits. According to a press release, Brigadier James Carr-Smith, Military Attaché in the United States capital, said he was impressed by the commitment and standards of the RBR. “Fantastic is my first impression of the troops,” he said. He said that, although this was his first visit to the island since taking over the military attaché’s post last August, he had heard favorable reports about the RBR’s standards. Brig Carr-Smith added that he had British Army friends, some from the RBR’s affiliated regiment the Royal Anglians, who had worked with island troops on overseas deployments, including Kenya. He said: “The RBR’s reputation is world-renowned and, importantly, well-founded. There is a lot to like.” Brig Carr-Smith was speaking after he toured Warwick Camp, speaking to new recruits on the firing range and the drill square, as well as instructors and full-time staff at Warwick Camp. He said that the RBR’s equipment and training, as well as its customs and traditions, were founded on those of the British Army. Brig Carr-Smith added: “We also have the same weapon system as the RBR and we’re wearing the same combats, while drill instructors have been on courses back in the UK, so I 100 per cent recognise the little training I have seen so far. If I was lucky enough to stay longer, I would recognise even more. Everything I have just seen and the interaction I have had with the young men and women, and some of them not so young I might add, is very positive.” And he singled out new soldiers, conscripted years ago before it was decided to make the RBR all-volunteer but had been pending due to living or studying overseas, who had chosen to volunteer as an good indicator of the spirit of the recruits. Brig Carr-Smith added the RBR compared favorably with the 15 Army Reserve infantry battalions in the UK. He said: “Their recruit basic training is very similar to what I have just seen with RBR basic training.” Brig Carr-Smith, due to return to his post at the British Embassy in Washington on Friday, added he had also been impressed by Bermuda. He said: “The people I have met are hugely friendly. The thing that really has struck me is how well-integrated the Royal Bermuda Regiment is, not just with the society it serves, but, importantly, with the other agencies — police, immigration, customs, the fire service — and that inter-agency approach is very important in all our armed forces. That’s important in whatever country you’re in because no conflict will ever be solved by military intervention alone. Co-operation is vital and I see that in abundance here in the Royal Bermuda Regiment.” RBR Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley escorted Brig Carr-Smith on visits to Governor John Rankin, police headquarters at Prospect and on his tour of Warwick Camp. Lt Col Curley said: “It’s reassuring that a senior British officer has said such great things about us. And it’s also very gratifying that the RBR is recognized around the world as good ambassadors for Bermuda.” The 60 new soldiers are now approaching the end of a tough two weeks of introduction to life in the island’s armed service and will finish their training with a formal passing out parade this weekend.

2016. December 23. New Governor John Rankin yesterday backed same-sex civil unions in Bermuda. “Civil unions have been recognized in the UK and in many other jurisdictions around the world,” he said. “I hope that any differing views on this issue in Bermuda can be resolved so any discrimination in this area can be ended.” Mr Rankin — in his first major interview since taking up the job two weeks ago — was speaking at his home for the next three or four years, Government House. Mr Rankin. who was British Ambassador to the Himalayan nation of Nepal before taking up the Governor’s post in Bermuda, added: “My first impressions are certainly that I’ve arrived in interesting times, but my impressions are, firstly, how incredibly friendly people are. They have been very welcoming. Secondly, I have been impressed by the energy of people here. I have met people from all backgrounds here who strike me as very skilled in what they do.” Mr Rankin, who arrived on the island only a few days after a protest against the proposed public/private redevelopment of the airport turned ugly, with police using pepper spray against a crowd that blocked the entrance to the House of Assembly, said that he hoped that the issue would be resolved. “I hope that calm will prevail and a constructive way is found to deal with issues on which there are currently disagreements,” he added. “People have the right to peaceful protest, but it’s also important that Parliament can go about its business. I also support the police in upholding the law.” Scottish-born Mr Rankin, 59, who graduated with a first-class honours degree in Scots law from Glasgow University, one of the oldest seats of learning in the UK, later completed a master’s degree in international law at McGill University in Montreal. He returned to Scotland and practised as a solicitor before becoming a lecturer in international law and public law at the University of Aberdeen. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1998, originally as a specialist in international law before moving into a diplomatic role. Mr Rankin has worked at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, the British Embassy in Dublin, where he worked on aspects of the Northern Ireland peace process, and was Consul-General in Boston, a position once held by his predecessor George Fergusson. Among other posts, he was also British High Commissioner to the Maldives and director of the Americas in the FCO, which includes the Caribbean region. “I was posted to Geneva at the UK mission to the UN,” he said. “I was engaged in legal work, but got increasingly engaged in policy work and wanted more opportunities to do that general diplomacy.” He added: “In terms of Bermuda, the work in Boston was particularly helpful. There are close ties between Boston and Bermuda.” Mr Rankin said: “This is a job I very much wanted to do. I wanted to come here because I thought it was a new challenge and I thought Bermuda was an exciting place to come to. I look forward to working with the Government, legislature, the business community and civil society during my tenure of office here. I take my responsibility very seriously — the responsibility to be the representative of the Queen here and responsibilities under the constitution to be responsible for the safety and security of Bermuda. I hope, in addition to that, I will be a listening Governor. I want to meet people from across the community. In my first two weeks here, I’ve been pleased to meet young people, members of the Government and Opposition and church leaders. I would like to continue that, be a Governor who is engaged and is involved in the local community.” The father of three grown-up children added that his personal areas of interest included child protection — and praised the courage of Bermuda football coach Andrew Bascome and his brother David in revealing they had been abused as youngsters. Mr Rankin said: “Young people represent the future of Bermuda. One area I attach particular importance to is a safe environment. I welcome the work being done by the parliamentary committee in this area and I look forward to seeing their report. I also recognise the bravery of those who have come forward recently to speak about the abuse they have experienced as children. I hope effective action can be taken to prevent such actions in the future. It’s important the relevant agencies work together in cutting risks. Hospitals, schools, social workers, the police, working together in a collegiate fashion to ensure children at risk are identified and protected. Tough checks on volunteers in youth work should be introduced as well as adequate protection against those who are sex offenders and may be at risk of offending again in the future”. Mr Rankin said he was also interested in supporting the business community, describing it as very important for Bermuda’s future prosperity. He added that the UK’s decision to leave the European Union — dubbed Brexit — presented opportunities as well as problems. “Britain will be more active, more outward- focused and more energetic than ever before on the world stage. The same is true for Bermuda — challenges, but also opportunities. I am confident that Bermuda, with its skills, its excellent regulatory framework and its determination to continue to meet the highest possible international business standards, will continue to succeed. Bermuda will continue to adapt, continue to diversify the economy and continue to look for new opportunities as they arise. It’s also my job as Governor to ensure that colleagues in London and others internationally are fully aware of Bermuda’s position in these areas.”

2016. December 20. Bermuda today slammed a bid by a group of British MPs to enforce a public register of company ownership. Around 80 MPs from a cross-section of UK political parties want an amendment to a British parliament criminal finances bill to include a stipulation that all UK Overseas Territories have a public register by 2020. Michael Fahy, acting Minister of Finance, said: “The Government of Bermuda notes reports that a group of British MPs is seeking to press for Amendments to the Criminal Finances Bill, requiring British Overseas Territories to publicly disclose the beneficial ownership of enterprises which they host. Bermuda notes that it has maintained a register of such information since 1947, to which all proper international tax, criminal, and regulatory authorities have access, while preserving proper respect for the privacy of individuals and corporations. “This position is recognized by the UK government and the OECD as world-leading.” Mr Fahy spoke out after back bench MPs including members of the Green Party, Liberal Democrats, the Welsh nationalist Plaid Cymru, the Scottish National Party, the Northern Irish Social Democratic & Labour Party, as well as Conservatives and Labour and the Northern Irish Unionist DUP members called for an addition to the law. The proposal was tabled in the House of Commons on the last day of sitting before the Christmas break. The amendment is to be tabled by Labour’s Dame Margaret Hodge, a former chairman of the public accounts committee, but it will need to gain approval from a majority of MPs to become part of the new Bill. An article in The Guardian newspaper predicted the move could spark “angry reaction” from many Overseas Territories — and could even provoke a move towards independence by British possessions around the world. The Guardian added that the amendment did not include UK Crown Dependencies, like Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. The UK could implement the rarely used order in council method to impose laws directly on its Overseas Territories if they fail to co-operate. Dame Margaret said: “Of course, political parties have shied away from using these powers. They can seem somewhat colonial. But I think there are overwhelming moral arguments at stake here.” Earlier this year, some Overseas Territories refused to buckle under pressure from then-Prime Minister David Cameron to introduce registers and it is expected offshore jurisdictions like the British Virgin Islands, Turks & Caicos Islands and Anguilla will again dig in their heels.

Governor John Rankin2016. December 5. Bermuda’s new Governor, John Rankin, was officially sworn in at a parade in King’s Square in St George’s this morning. After a march by Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers, a commission speech by Cabinet Secretary Derrick Binns, a prayer by the Right Reverend Nicholas Dill and an introduction by Michael Dunkley, the Premier, Mr Rankin said it was “a great honour to be appointed as Her Majesty the Queen’s representative as your Governor”.

  He said he looked forward to working with Bermuda in “upholding the highest international business standards”. 

The father of three also said he wanted to engage with Bermuda’s young people “who represent the future”. Commenting on recent political discontent, he said he hoped to work with “all Bermudians” to ensure a “constructive way of going forward to deal with the issues where there is currently disagreement in Bermuda ... allowing them to resolve peacefully in line with this country’s democratic traditions”. He added: “Those same traditions of tolerance, stability and security [I hope will] also continue to ensure that those who arrive in Bermuda are quickly made to feel welcome.” 

The Premier said the new Governor had a wide range of expertise and was armed with “a quite impressive résumé”. He also spoke of the Friday’s events, saying: “As we saw recently, even the strongest and healthiest democracies face their share of challenges. 

As leaders in government, in opposition and in Government House, we should all feel very hurt and saddened about what happened last Friday at the House of Assembly with Members of Parliament not being allowed to access to conduct the people’s business ... injured citizens, police using pepper spray. 

These are very disturbing images for anyone to see. Our first priority should be the safety and well-being of the people we serve. As these are very challenging times, we must be mindful that we still are one people.” He said going forward, his government would seek to come together to create a “prosperous, unified and proud Bermuda”. 

2016. December 4. Ginny Ferson, the Acting Governor, Michael Dunkley, the Premier, and David Burt, the Leader of the Opposition, were among the dignitaries on hand to greet John Rankin, the new Governor, when he arrived in Bermuda this evening. Mr Rankin told the assembled group that he was delighted to be in Bermuda and looked forward to working with them in the best interests of all Bermudians. The new Governor will be sworn in at a ceremony in the Town of St George at 11am tomorrow.

2016. November 21. Bermuda’s relationship with Britain will be “stronger than ever” after Brexit, Michael Dunkley has assured the House of Assembly. The Premier, who attended the Joint Ministerial Council meetings in London earlier this month, said that the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union would not change its relationship with the Overseas Territories. He added that Government was working to ensure that Bermudians would retain free movement throughout the Schengen area. Mr Dunkley said that although Bermuda’s people did not get to vote on Brexit, “we respect the decision of the UK people”. Progressive Labour Party MP Walton Brown expressed his concern over the prospective impacts on Bermuda. “The UK doesn’t have a very good track record of listening to the Overseas Territories,” he said. The Premier responded by saying that the JMC meetings were “the most consultative we’ve ever had” and that Government would ensure that its voice would be heard as discussions continue. He added said that potentially tighter offshore tax rules imposed by Brussels “does not concern Bermuda. We have consistently had direct engagement in Brussels and EU nations on a bilateral basis. In some cases there has been assistance from the UK Government, but for the most part Bermuda has defended its own battles and developed a unique skill in highlighting our valued economic contribution to the global economy.”

2016. November 16.  Premier Michael Dunkley’s trip to the UK to attend the Joint Ministerial Council Meetings cost just over $10,000. The Premier traveled to London with Cabinet Secretary Derrick Binns on October 30 to take part in the annual gathering of leaders from the UK Overseas Territories and returned on November 3. According to details released on the Government’s ministerial expenses website, the total cost of air travel was $5,447, while the accommodation bill was $2,692. Just over $680 was spent on ground transport during the trip and a further $1,200 amounted to expenses for Mr Dunkley’s annual reception for Bermudians living in the capital. A summary of the trip states: “The annual meetings bring together the leaders of the UK Overseas Territories with UK Ministers to discuss and address issues of concern, including the UK withdrawal from the European Union, Health, Environment, and the ongoing relationship between the UK and its territories. “While at the meeting, the OT Leaders were introduced to the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson. In addition, Leaders met with the UK Parliamentary Environment Select Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee. The Premier was accompanied by the Director of the Bermuda London Office and UK Representative Kimberley Durrant and Secretary to the Cabinet Derrick Binns.”

2016. November 2. Updating Governor-designate John Rankin on Bermuda life was the among tasks in London for Michael Dunkley, the Premier, during talks among Overseas Territory leaders. Mr Rankin is to be sworn into office on December 5, Mr Dunkley told The Royal Gazette. Yesterday’s last round of business included “broad discussions on economic development, and the UK acknowledged our openness and transparency on the airport development”, Mr Dunkley said — referring to the British Government’s issuance of an entrustment for the Canadian Government to proceed with the project. The Premier, who returns home today, divulged little on Monday’s Throne Speech — but promised “a very ambitious agenda. The fall session in Parliament is short and we have a lot of key legislation to tabled,” Mr Dunkley said, calling for a "change of tone” in local politics. The people of Bermuda don’t want to hear acrimony and dissent; they expect political debate to be done in a respectful and understanding way.” After a difficult year for the One Bermuda Alliance, in which several members chastised the party for its public image and communications strategy — and former minister Shawn Crockwell quit to go independent — Mr Dunkley was asked about the current state of play within the OBA. “Everybody has speculated, seeing the advertisements that we have been running, and they think an election is imminent,” Mr Dunkley said, noting the party’s recent series of ads in this newspaper — which focused on defending the proposal for LF Wade International Airport. “There is an election that will take place next year; we still have work to do and improvements to make. Communication is key. However, against that, I think the people of Bermuda will recognise that we have seen significant progress over the four years since we were elected to the Government. Every day we look forward and we learn from any missteps we have made. I am proud of that progress — we live and learn. We have been the most open and transparent Government that Bermuda has ever had. Our record is one we can be proud of, but we can never rest on our laurels, because there are still people who have not moved forward as we would like to see.” The OT joint ministerial council included meetings on climate change, where the Premier spread the word on the Hamilton Declaration on Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea. A meeting led by Crispin Blunt, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, provided “a good opportunity for all the OT leaders to speak with MPs in the House”. Yesterday’s meetings were led by Baroness Anelay, the Minister for the Overseas Territories, ranging from infrastructure to good governance, anti-corruption, European Union negotiations and international trade. Mr Dunkley said he once more presented Bermuda’s firm stance on anti-corruption and beneficial ownership. An anti-bribery convention from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development is to be extended to the island during the upcoming session of Parliament, along with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. The Falkland Island Government introduced a memorandum of understanding aimed at safeguarding children through the sharing of information between the territories and the British Government, which was supported by Bermuda. And Brexit, the British Government’s decision to leave the European Union, loomed large in the talks. It was agreed to establish a joint ministerial council on the negotiations for early next year, before the evoking of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Mr Dunkley also met with Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, at a reception last night — where the former London mayor was presented with a set of Bermuda shorts.

2016. November 1. Premier Michael Dunkley has joined other Overseas Territories leaders in London for the (British) Overseas Territories (OT) joint ministerial council. OT heads held a parliamentary meeting yesterday with MP Nick Hurd, Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry. The group also met with the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, at a gathering led by its chairman, Crispin Blunt MP, to discuss matters of significance to the territories. Afternoon sessions included a meeting on OT pension matters, chaired by Richard Harrington MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Pensions, as well as a discussion of health issues, chaired by Lord Prior of Brampton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health. Mr Dunkley also met with Baroness Anelay, Minister for the Overseas Territories, who last night hosted a formal dinner for OT leaders.

2016. October 24. Premier Michael Dunkley will be travelling to the UK at the end of this month to take part in the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council meetings (OT JMC). While there, along the Bermuda’s London Office, he will also host the annual networking forum for Bermudians living, working and studying in the UK. The OT meeting will see the Premier join other leaders as well as cabinet ministers and senior civil servants from Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, Ascension Island, Tristan da Cunha, St Helena and Pitcairn. “It’s anticipated that there will be a robust agenda for the upcoming OT JMC with issues such as Brexit, immigration matters and environmental sustainability forming part of the discussion among OT leaders,” said Government spokesperson. His meeting with Bermudians living in the UK will take place October 31 at the London Office. “The Government appreciates that there are many Bermudians living in the UK, and as has been the tradition in years past, the upcoming networking reception provides an opportunity for Bermudians to have a face to face dialogue with the Premier,” added the spokesperson. The London Office is advising those Bermudian students who are registered with the Office that they will have an opportunity to win a complimentary round trip ticket between London and Bermuda courtesy of British Airways.

2016. October 9. Brexit, Britain’s controversial referendum decision to exit the European Union, was the “focal point” of Prime Minister Theresa May’s address at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, environment minister Cole Simons said. Mr Simons, who attended from October 2 — 5, said it had been “very clear” that the UK Government planned to start negotiations before March 31, 2017. “These negotiations would be rooted in decisions that are made in the best interest of Britain,” Mr Simons said. “In addition, the British Government saw this as an opportunity to form new trade links and new partners.” Ms May intends to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, in accordance with the outcome of the June 23 vote. Mr Simons said the UK Government would repeal the European Communities Act, which decouples EU legislation from British legislation. After Royal Assent, the UK Parliament would be free to legislate, subject to international agreements and treaties. The Prime Minister said the British Government would “decide for ourselves how we control immigration” without the influence of the EU, which she said had been swayed by the movement of labour within the EU market. Mr Simons said he believed that the vision of a “truly global Britain” would include “the devolved powers such as the Overseas Territories”. Governments of the UK Overseas Territories are working alongside the UK Government to be involved in the process of the negotiations, in accordance with their constitutional relationships, to ensure that their views are taken into account. Bermuda’s London Office is now consulting with the UK Government through the Foreign Office, along with the Department for Exiting the European Union, to ensure that the interests of Bermuda were covered — including immigration, access to education, and the financial services industry. On behalf of Michael Dunkley, the Premier, Mr Simons hosted a breakfast round table discussion with influential MPs and Conservative think tanks, a Cabinet Office statement said this evening. It was co-hosted with Bernard Jenkins, MP, the Chair of the UK Select Committee on Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs. Discussions focused on corporate governance and a debate on transformational and transactional leadership. Mr Simons reported an interest in what Bermuda’s parliamentary reform efforts to develop an independent Parliamentary Commission. There was also a wide opinion on the UK Government’s intended negotiations after Article 50 is evoked under the Lisbon Treaty (by 31 March 2017), and the impact not only in homeland UK but the devolved powers to include the Overseas Territories. There was participation from Head of Taxation at the Institute of Directors. Mr Simons provided some examples of Bermuda’s current robust tax policy and structure, clarifying some of the inner workings of Bermuda’s financial services system, to reduce “misconceptions of Bermuda being described as a tax haven”. Bermuda’s compliance record was discussed, including how many financial and professional institutions had complied with the extensive oversight and participation with the robust regime of Know Your Customer procedures arising from the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorist Financing regulations. Solvency II initiatives, along with business opportunities to businesses as a result of its ratification, were also discussed. In addition, Mr Simons met with a variety of leading UK Government environment officials attending the conference.

2016. September 30. Premier Michael Dunkley will not be travelling to Britain for the upcoming Conservative Party Conference, Cabinet Office announced today. The Premier was scheduled to travel this weekend to the event, to network and meet with UK Cabinet members. However, those meetings were not confirmed, so Mr Dunkley will instead aim to schedule any meetings during the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council Meeting, in Britain at the end of October. The Bermuda London Office’s planned Birmingham networking session for next Monday has now been cancelled and confirmed attendees notified. Bermudians living, working and studying in Britain are instead encouraged to attend a networking session on October 31, at the London Office, located at 6 Arlington Street, London, SW1A 1RE. They will have an opportunity to have face-to-face dialogue with the Premier. Environment minister Cole Simons will attend next week’s Conference and plans to hold discussions with UK officials and organisations about Bermuda’s marine environment. 

2016. September 19. Bermuda is “a step ahead” of the UK as it grapples with its exit from the European Union. Ariane West, a partner in law firm Taylors, in association with Walkers, said the island’s self-negotiated Solvency II equivalency status in Europe and work to gain an Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive passport on a third country basis from the EU would continue as Britain unravels its relationship with the rest of the continent and attempts to build a working relationship with its former partners from outside the EU. She added: “Because of the nature of Bermuda’s relationship with the UK and because we are very much a self-governing territory, and we’re already operating as a third country and have our own bilateral relationship with Brussels, we now have the opportunity to continue to build on this and take advantage of the fact that the UK finds itself in a very uncertain place which will likely continue for a considerable period of time. Bermuda has the advantage of offering consistency in what its relationship with the EU will look like. We’re certainly one step ahead in this context. Usually, when you speculate, you can take it in a lot of different directions, but I think the reality is the UK is going to be seeking a positive and productive relationship with the EU going forward and Bermuda wants the same thing with both the UK and EU. I don’t think speculation about terms or scenarios are something worth investing a lot of time or thought in — all parties will be seeking the most beneficial arrangements for their people and their economies.” Ms West was speaking at the first “Breakfast Bites” session on Friday organized by the Bermuda branch of the international Alternative Investment Management Association, which has corporate members around the world. She added that an AIFMD passport could “certainly be a boon to Bermuda’s asset management industry. Solvency II does provide a significant degree of comfort in terms of insurance groups domiciling themselves in Bermuda. That certainly bolsters Bermuda’s position for the foreseeable future as a stable domicile.” Earlier, she told the meeting that the UK had always had a sceptical attitude to “the European experiment. The fact that the UK public has elected to leave the EU has sent shock waves through the market. Europe has experienced its first setback of this magnitude.” And she said that many of the political drivers behind the UK Brexit vote were “not aligned with the financial services industry, who voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU”. Ms West said that Bermuda, as a UK Overseas Territory, was also recognized as Overseas Territory of the EU, and Britain’s exit would mean the island would no longer have that access to that direct channel of communication through Britain. But she added that Bermuda had a long history of negotiating on its own behalf in the international arena and would continue to do so. "The opportunity and uncertainty and even instability caused by Brexit may be a source of opportunity for the Bermuda market.” Around 90 people attended the breakfast session and AIMA Bermuda chairman Craig Bridgewater, a managing director at professional services firm KPMG, told the meeting the rejuvenated organisation was on the lookout for new members. He added: “There are 1,700 corporate members around the world and we would like to see more Bermuda-based members as well.”

2016. September 19. John Rankin, the former British Ambassador to Nepal, has been named the next Governor of Bermuda, filling the post left by George Fergusson in August. According to a Government House spokeswoman, Acting Governor Ginny Ferson will continue to hold the post until December, when Mr Rankin is expected to arrive on the island. In a statement, Mr Rankin said: “I very much look forward to taking up the role of Governor and working in partnership with the elected Government in the interests of the people of Bermuda. Bermuda has a well-deserved reputation as a vibrant place to do business and an attractive place to live or to visit. That vibrancy will be all the more evident as we approach the America’s Cup next year and Bermuda has the opportunity to showcase itself to the full on the world stage” Mr Rankin joined the Foreign Commonwealth Office in 1988 as a legal adviser, working in both Britain and Geneva and assisting with the Northern Ireland peace process. He later served as the British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Consul-General in Boston and Head of the America’s Directorate. In his most recent post, Mr Rankin served as the Head of Mission of the British Embassy in Katmandu, which was rocked with a 7.8 earthquake just six days after he arrived in April last year — something he later described as a “baptism by fire”. Speaking to The Telegraph about the disaster, Mr Rankin said: “I think first of all you saw some buildings intact and some places where the walls had fallen down and you saw the damage, but the initial thing was seeing people. Seeing people in a confused condition, people standing there not really knowing what had happened, people trying to get themselves to open ground. When you do see what has happened to some people — the fact that I was in a retrofitted building, the fact that I have got a security team to assist puts us in a position where hopefully it means we can help people. But I can appreciate how terrifying it must have been for people who were in a more exposed situation.” In the wake of the disaster, more than 150 British and Commonwealth citizens flocked to the embassy grounds, with many being given shelter in tents. The lawn later became temporary home for British medics and firefighters who traveled to Nepal to assist with recovery efforts. Prior to joining the FCO, Mr Rankin practised as a solicitor in Scotland and was a lecturer in public law at the University of Aberdeen. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, welcomed Mr Rankin’s appointment, stating: “We are pleased to see that the FCO process of appointing a Governor for Bermuda has been completed. We note Mr Rankin’s wide range of expertise, which we consider could be an asset to Bermuda’s growth in the next few years.”

2016. September 19. John Rankin, the former British Ambassador to Nepal, was named the next Governor of Bermuda, filling the post left by George Fergusson in August. According to a Government House spokeswoman, Acting Governor Ginny Ferson will continue to hold the post until December, when Mr Rankin is expected to arrive on the island. In a statement, Mr Rankin said: “I very much look forward to taking up the role of Governor and working in partnership with the elected Government in the interests of the people of Bermuda. Bermuda has a well-deserved reputation as a vibrant place to do business and an attractive place to live or to visit. That vibrancy will be all the more evident as we approach the America’s Cup next year and Bermuda has the opportunity to showcase itself to the full on the world stage” Mr Rankin joined the Foreign Commonwealth Office in 1988 as a legal adviser, working in both Britain and Geneva and assisting with the Northern Ireland peace process. He later served as the British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Consul-General in Boston and Head of the America’s Directorate. In his most recent post, Mr Rankin served as the Head of Mission of the British Embassy in Katmandu, which was rocked with a 7.8 earthquake just six days after he arrived in April last year — something he later described as a “baptism by fire”. Speaking to The Telegraph about the disaster, Mr Rankin said: “I think first of all you saw some buildings intact and some places where the walls had fallen down and you saw the damage, but the initial thing was seeing people. Seeing people in a confused condition, people standing there not really knowing what had happened, people trying to get themselves to open ground. When you do see what has happened to some people — the fact that I was in a retrofitted building, the fact that I have got a security team to assist puts us in a position where hopefully it means we can help people. But I can appreciate how terrifying it must have been for people who were in a more exposed situation.” In the wake of the disaster, more than 150 British and Commonwealth citizens flocked to the embassy grounds, with many being given shelter in tents. The lawn later became temporary home for British medics and firefighters who traveled to Nepal to assist with recovery efforts. Prior to joining the FCO, Mr Rankin practised as a solicitor in Scotland and was a lecturer in public law at the University of Aberdeen. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, welcomed Mr Rankin’s appointment, stating: “We are pleased to see that the FCO process of appointing a Governor for Bermuda has been completed. We note Mr Rankin’s wide range of expertise, which we consider could be an asset to Bermuda’s growth in the next few years.”

2016. September 16. Independence from Britain might be feasible, should the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union jeopardize Bermuda’s business interests, said finance minister Bob Richards. “We still don’t know which way is up,” Mr Richards cautioned of Brexit — the UK’s shock referendum result of June 23. “It’s my opinion, not the opinion of the Bermuda Government, and it is the same as it was in the late 1990s; it has not changed — but I have more context to put it in from my experience with this job over the last four years. We don’t know how this is going to pan out as it relates to Overseas Territories. We can speculate, but we don’t have any evidence. My view is that if the external situation affecting Bermuda should change, so that our way of life and business and our ability to feed ourselves is threatened by UK policies, whether inside or outside Europe, then I would not hesitate to go for independence. It’s our duty to protect Bermudians.” The minister said he had discovered during his tenure that “on a number of issues, we are not on the same side” when it came to Britain. “The tax haven issue is one that was visited upon us by the UK; the Cameron Government was on a crusade to do something about tax havens. I happened to be in London for a demonstration so large it stretched from the Bank of England to Parliament.” A “groundswell” of anti-haven sentiment in recent years has led some to believe that Bermuda was somehow “taking money out of their pockets. We have had to react to all kinds of initiatives that posed risks to our business model ... if a confluence of circumstances arise with the Brexit issue, our responsibility as a government would be very clear.” The past few years have seen sharply worded responses by Mr Richards and Michael Dunkley, the Premier, to charges of financial impropriety from across the Atlantic. While Mr Richards said the island was “a long way” from such a drastic move, tides could turn. “Up until recently, we have been in a sweet spot where our business partners feel comfortable. We’re English speaking, we have the rule of British law, and with relatively low taxation. It’s our role as Government to keep us in that sweet spot.” As far as Brexit’s true implications go, Mr Richards said the island was in the early days. “The UK, I’ve heard, may not be in a position to start talking to the EU about Article 50 until possibly the end of next year,” he said — referring to the section of the Treaty of European Union that covers the breaking of ties.” Recent speculation had the invocation of Article 50 possible by the close of 2016.

2016. September 3. Bermuda has become the first British Overseas Territory to initiate direct talks with the UK over the impact of its withdrawal from the European Union. Along with discussing the repercussions of the June “Brexit” referendum, Michael Dunkley’s two days of meetings in London encompassed the appointment of the next Governor, and the surprise decision by Massachusetts to stop accepting Bermudian driver’s licences. With British authorities still grappling with the consequences of Brexit, the Premier said that it would “probably take until the end of the year for Article 50 to be invoked”. This was in reference to the section of the Treaty on European Union that covers notifying the European Council. A two-year negotiation period will follow. “I wanted to make sure that Bermuda’s interests are at all times at the forefront, as well as to obtain a better understanding of the process,” said Mr Dunkley, stressing that it was still “too early to speculate what we might see”, but that he was “confident that we have direct access”. The Premier anticipated “minimal” impact on the island’s business dealings in Europe. “We want to be sure that we are involved whenever the UK is at the table and our interests have to be protected.” Less certain was the ease of movement and travel that Bermudians enjoy at present within the EU, but Mr Dunkley again said it was impossible to know at this point. Some have questioned whether the Brexit move could come with unintended consequences for the right of abode within Britain that Bermudians enjoy as British citizens, but the Premier said he didn’t see that being an issue “at all”. “Brexit could impact their ability to live in Europe, but not in the UK.” The London meetings included talks with Baroness Anelay, Minister of State for the Commonwealth, as well as British MP Robin Walker, a junior minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union. The Premier also spoke with a reporter at The Economist on business and political issues. The appointment of a new Governor after George Fergusson stepped down this summer was discussed, and Mr Dunkley said there should be “an announcement coming quite shortly”. Mr Dunkley, who said that the former government administration had first learnt of the issue in 2010, added that he was “optimistic” at finding a solution for restoring driving rights for Bermudians in Massachusetts — where many locals travel for educational and medical reasons. “We don’t underestimate the business that goes back and forth as well. It’s a very important area for Bermuda, and we are trying to deal with it on two fronts.” Getting Bermuda on to a driving treaty dating back to the 1940s would take time to investigate, with Government House likely to be involved. Another option was a memorandum of understanding directly with the Massachusetts Governor’s office. 

2016. September 2. Britain’s decision to opt out of the European Union was discussed by Premier Michael Dunkley during a London visit that also covered the announcement of the island’s next Governor. The Premier addressed the extradition process between the Overseas Territories and the UK, and the recognition of the Bermuda driving licence in Massachusetts. See tomorrow’s edition for further details, with Mr Dunkley noting that Bermuda was the first Overseas Territory to discuss with UK officials the implications of the “Brexit” move out of the EU. The aim of the two-day trip was to “build an open line of communication with the new UK administration under Prime Minister Theresa May”, he said. The Premier’s first meeting took place yesterday at 9 Downing Street with MP Robin Walker from the Department for Exiting the European Union. “This was a very key meeting which focused on issues of concern for many Bermudians as a result of Brexit,” Mr Dunkley said. “It was an opportunity to discuss how the Government will maintain an open line of communication to ensure Bermuda’s interests are part of the UK’s overall negotiation process.” The island will be kept updated on developments that could have an impact on Bermuda. The Premier also spoke with Baroness Anelay, Minister of State for the Commonwealth, UN, and Overseas Territories. Mr Dunkley had breakfast today with “friends of Bermuda”: Lord James Borwick, Lady Victoria Borwick and Lord Chadlington, to discuss Ms May’s new administration and her vision for the UK. The Premier was then hosted at a luncheon including key industry figures at XL Catlin, based in London, and conducted an interview with The Economist. Mr Dunkley was accompanied by the Secretary to the Cabinet, Derrick Binns, and Kimberley Durrant, UK representative and director of the London office.

2016. August. The Governor of Bermuda from May 2012 to mid 2016 was George Fergusson, who was assaulted in Hammersmith, London, during the evening of April 20, 2012 before his arrival in Bermuda and was hospitalized. He lost the sight of his left eye resulting from the attack. His wife is Margaret. The married father-of-three was walking in Margravine Cemetery, close to The Queen's Club – the tennis club whose members include the Duchess of Cambridge, when he was attacked. It is understood he was late for a dinner party where his wife Margaret was waiting, when he took a short cut through the cemetery. He was allegedly punched to the ground after getting out his BlackBerry mobile phone to check the address of his hosts. Scotland Yard said a "small quantity" of cash was taken and, at this early stage, officers were satisfied that robbery was the only motive. They have yet to make any arrests and say inquires are continuing. The robber was black, aged between 25 and 35, and around 5ft 10 ins. He was wearing a dark hooded top and dark glasses. Mr Fergusson, who was educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford, managed to keep hold of his mobile phone and after the incident, called his wife to tell him he was going to be late before walking to Charing Cross hospital for help. Previously a former British High Commissioner to New Zealand and Samoa, Mr Fergusson, of Lambeth, London until his move to Bermuda,  has also worked in the Soviet Department, which became the Eastern Department of the Foreign Office after the collapse of Communist Russia, and in London. Mr Fergusson, whose wife works for the British Council, also spent four years as Consul-General in Boston before being seconded in 2003 to the UK Cabinet Office as head of the foreign policy team. His career as a diplomat has also included time in Northern Ireland, Ireland, South Korea and the Pitcairn Islands. His father, Baron Ballantrae, was the last British-born Governor-General of New Zealand and served in that role between 1962 and 1967. Mr Fergusson was born abroad while his father served abroad as a senior soldier. His grandfather had also been governor-general of New Zealand and two of his great grandfathers were its governors when it was a colony. According to the Daily Mail newspaper in the UK, his family history has been plagued by tragedy: his mother was killed when winds blew a tree onto her car, his father died from a stroke and his 20-year-old son Alexander died after being hit by a taxi while pushing his bicycle across a bus lane. One of his middle names is Raukawa, a Maori word in recognition of the family's long association with the country. 

2016. August 3.  The Governor, George Fergusson, formally bade farewell to the island yesterday after a ceremony in Dockyard. Mr Fergusson, who has served as Governor since 2012, told a crowd of MPs, senior civil servants, Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers and visitors: “When I arrived 4½ years ago, I spoke of hopes of a community that would increasingly come together, that would achieve an economic recovery and see a reduction in gang violence through the working together across agencies. There has indeed been progress in all of these areas. In each of them, less progress than we all would have wished, but still progress.” He said the America’s Cup would provide an opportunity to further advance these areas both in 2017 and beyond. Mr Fergusson thanked Bermuda and its people for their kindness before boarding the Norwegian Dawn. He and his wife are set to travel on the cruise ship to Boston before returning to Britain. Deputy Governor Ginny Ferson will serve as acting governor until a permanent replacement is announced. Bob Richards, the Acting Premier, thanked Mr Fergusson for his years spent assisting the island. “Although Bermuda is one of the smallest of diplomatic postings, it is a complex and beautiful place and it is a complex and beautiful task that you have had, but it has not always been an easy one,” he said. He thanked the Governor and his wife, Margaret, for their community work outside of Government House, saying they would be remembered fondly by many Bermudians and Bermuda residents. Earlier, Lynn Woolridge, chairwoman of the OBA, formally thanked Mr Fergusson and his wife, saying: “Together they epitomized dedication, service and civility. We wish them all the best.”

2016. August 2. Bermuda bids farewell today to George Fergusson, the Governor, who will be sent off in style with a handover ceremony and parade at 4pm in Dockyard. Mr Fergusson and his wife, Margaret, will then head off from the island on the Norwegian Dawn. The public are also invited to wish them well at 3.45pm, when they set off for King’s Wharf on a police launch from Barr’s Bay Park in Hamilton. Ginny Ferson, the Deputy Governor, is to assume office as Acting Governor until a successor for Mr Fergusson is appointed. Today concludes a tour of duty that started in May 2012, when Mr Fergusson replaced Sir Richard Gozney. The Fergussons’ ultimate destination is London, where Mrs Fergusson works for the British Council. According to Government House, Mr Fergusson’s last day on the job was “a relatively normal business day in the office”. It included lunching with Larry Mussenden, the Director of Public Prosecutions, as well as Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley, the Commanding Officer of the Royal Bermuda Regiment, and Paul Wright, the Acting Police Commissioner. The Governor also held his regular weekly meeting with police. Mr Fergusson closed the day with an informal barbecue with Government House staff.

2016. July 22. Premier Michael Dunkley will return to Bermuda tomorrow after the Pre-Joint Ministerial Council Meeting concluded in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Premier met with fellow Overseas Territories leaders to discuss matters, including Brexit and the 2012 Overseas Territory White Paper. The meetings serve as a precursor to the upcoming OT Joint Ministerial Council meetings hosted by the UK Government in October. OT leaders discussed the threat posed by the Zika virus to Caribbean countries, and noted both the health risks and the potential impact on tourism. Other issues included healthcare for OT citizens, the prospective upgrade to pay index-linked pensions and a review of the partnership with the UK Government. Mr Dunkley was accompanied on his visit by the Secretary to the Cabinet Derrick Binns and Kimberley Durrant, UK representative and director of the London Office.

2016. July 19.  The Premier is in the Turks and Caicos Islands this week for the UK Overseas Territories Heads of Government Pre-Joint Ministerial Council meeting. As well as taking part in discussions about the British referendum on the European Union, Michael Dunkley will lead a panel discussion on topics including sustainable economic development, opportunities and challenges for small economies, and infrastructure development. Held annually, this week’s meeting takes place tomorrow and Thursday, and is being hosted by Rufus Ewing, the Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands. The British referendum, exit from the EU and the effect on overseas territories will be a specific area of discussion. The Turks and Caicos meetings are a precursor to the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council meetings, which will be hosted by the British Government in October. The Premier, who is due to return on Friday, is accompanied by the Secretary to the Cabinet, Derrick Binns, and Kimberley Durrant, UK representative and director of the London Office. 

2016. July 16. The Bermuda Government has already spoken with British Government officials regarding the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. But Premier Michael Dunkley told the House of Assembly yesterday that the implications of Brexit remained unclear. Having already written to Britain’s new Prime Minister, Theresa May, to offer congratulations on her appointment, the Premier said he had outlined Bermuda’s significant economic contribution to Britain. He added that he would be travelling to the Turks and Caicos Islands next week to join other Premiers and Chief Ministers at the Pre-Joint Ministerial Council, where Brexit will be discussed. “Our discussions will focus on our relationship with the European Union, in view of Brexit. It is a priority that we assess the future of overseas territories within the EU and our collective priorities within UK negotiations. Among the many topics to be discussed, we will focus on the global tax and transparency agenda attached to our financial services industry, child safeguarding and sustainable economic development. I will have an opportunity to lead the discussion on the latter topic. These discussions are prudent and timely, as we prepare to engage with new UK ministers across Whitehall.” Joining Mr Dunkley will be Cabinet secretary Derrick Binns and the island’s UK representative, Kimberley Durrant, who acts as Bermuda’s Sherpa in the Joint Ministerial Council. “The Prime Minister has indicated that she will respect the wishes of the UK voters and will proceed to withdraw the UK from the European Union,” the Premier said. “This will not be completed quickly and there remains much to be understood in this regard. In consideration of the potential impact of the UK decision on Bermuda, the Government has held discussions with officials within the UK Government and also among key officials within the Bermuda Government. I can inform this House that a great deal of uncertainty remains within the UK with regard to the implications of and process for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Prime Minister Theresa May will have responsibility for activating Article 50 of the European Union Treaties, triggering the steps required for the UK to formally sever its membership in the EU. Until the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement, the UK remains a member of the European Council, and as such the relevant EU law continues to apply to and within the UK. The European Council met on June 28 and 29 and agreed under the legal basis of Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union that once notification has been received from the UK, the European Council will adopt guidelines for the negotiations of an agreement with the UK. The Council has already determined that any agreement, which will be concluded with the UK as a third country, will have to be based on a balance of rights and obligations. Access to the Single Market requires acceptance of all four freedoms. If no agreement is reached within two years of the UK activating Article 50, the UK would leave the EU without any new agreement being in place. The Overseas Territories Department within the Foreign Office has actively engaged the Europe Directorate to immediately identify the issues as it relates to overseas territories. A new EU unit has been established within the UK Cabinet Office that will oversee the negotiations for the UK to leave the EU and the subsequent relationship of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the EU. Our team, alongside other overseas territories and the Foreign Office, has already identified priority complex issues to be forwarded to the EU unit within the UK Cabinet Office. The details of the UK’s plans to manage its consultation and negotiation process remain unclear at this stage. However, we are preparing alongside the Foreign Office to ensure that priorities relating to the overseas territories are streamed within the negotiation structure. We will, of course, be keenly interested in the impact on any existing treaties in which Bermuda has an interest, particularly those covered by the Overseas Association Decision, and also on the impact of the free access across Europe by most Bermudians under the Schengen Agreement. The legal position is clear: the UK remains a member of the EU and the full range of rights and obligations afforded under the treaties still apply.”

2016. July 13. The Governor, George Fergusson, has no plans to force Bermuda’s hand on the contentious issue of same-sex marriage. A statement from Government House said it was “unlikely” for a Governor to turn down legislation passed by Parliament specifying that no element of the Human Rights Act could allow same-sex marriage. “The UK Government has taken a policy position in support of same-sex marriages and legislation to that effect has been passed in England and Wales [and, separately, in Scotland, although not in Northern Ireland]. But it is not something required by the UK’s and Bermuda’s international obligations or by the Bermuda Constitution. It is therefore unlikely that a governor would withhold assent from a Bill on the lines of the one currently before the Legislature, if passed by both Houses.” Mr Fergusson confirmed Bermuda and Britain had the same obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. He said there was no plan or request from Bermuda at present for Britain to send assistance from the Government Equalities Office, as it did before the 2013 amendment to the Human Rights Act, which prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. But the Governor added: “It would certainly be considered if requested.”

2016. June 24. Bermudians’ free movement within the European Union is the greatest cause of concern following last night’s Brexit decision, Premier Michael Dunkley said today. The Premier told the House of Assembly much negotiating would take place after the British opted out of the EU. Under a June 2014 agreement with the British Government, Overseas Territories citizens are allowed to travel through the EU Schengen Area for 90 days. “The greatest concern for many Bermudians is the free movement within the EU for British Overseas Territory Citizens who possess British Citizenship as defined within the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU,” Mr Dunkley told MPs. “For those who have obtained British Citizenship, the Treaty provisions state that every person holding the nationality of a member state shall be a citizen of the Union. It further outlines that ‘citizens of the Union shall enjoy the rights and be subject to the duties provided for in the Treaties. This includes that every citizen of the Union shall have the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the member states. Clearly, there is a likely impact on the free movement of Bermudians through the European Union. As indicated earlier, there is still much to be negotiated in this regard.” Mr Dunkley also said an EU withdrawal will not affect Bermuda’s solvency equivalence. And he said he had been advised there is no reason why any equivalency or unilateral decisions of the EU on insurance, audit or fund management should cease to exist on or before UK withdrawal. Bermuda is already treated as a “third country” by the EU, he said.

2016. June 24. Major Bermuda-incorporated insurers could take a significant hit as a result of Britain’s decision to pull out of the European Union, a top ratings agency warned yesterday. AM Best said it did not expect to take rating actions in the near future as a result of the shock vote — but warned it would continue to monitor the exit process. The AM Best report said: “The decision has led to a sharp drop in Sterling and global equity markets. AM Best notes that the financial market volatility could have a material impact on insurers’ half year and balance sheets, with most companies reporting their positions as at June 30. Solvency II’s market-consistent approach to valuing the economic balance sheet means that financial market volatility will be closely reflected in European insurers’ reported solvency capital ratios. AM Best will discuss the implications of this with rated entities, but will continue to incorporate a prospective view when assessing insurers’ financial strength. The implications for the financial strength of insurers with regard to subsequent investment market volatility, currency fluctuations and increased economic uncertainly will be closely monitored.” AM Best spoke out after the UK voted by around 52 per cent to 48 per cent to leave the EU, where it had been a member for 43 years. David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, who had backed a remain vote, resigned yesterday in the wake of the outcome, although he will remain until his Conservative Parry elects a new leader at its conference in October. Sterling plunged after the result was announced and European financial markets were thrown into turmoil, although it will take several years for Britain to negotiate its exit. The AM Best report said: “Also, as the terms of the exit are negotiated, AM Best will discuss with rated companies what prospective changes will mean for their competitive positions and ability to continue to access business in the UK and EU.” Greg Wojciechowski, chief executive officer of the Bermuda Stock Exchange and the chairman of ILS Bermuda, said the island can offer a “safe harbour” amid fears over the future after the UK narrowly voted to quit the European Union. Mr Wojciechowski explained the British vote “in no way diminished” Bermuda’s standing as a well-respected and well-regulated financial centre. "While the world wrestles with the Brexit vote, Bermuda will continue to offer innovative commercial solutions to clients and industry segments we support and we welcome future opportunities that might arise. Bermuda will continue to provide a safe harbour amid uncertainty for the foreseeable future. Bermuda’s unique geographic position between two of the world’s deepest capital markets and largest insurance centres has created commercial opportunity for the island as well as a solid platform to provide services to a global audience — and the Brexit result will not impact this. Bermuda will continue to offer innovative commercial solutions to clients and industry segments we support and we welcome future opportunities that may arise.” The Royal Gazette’s business magazine, The Bottom Line, reported last month that Bermuda could get an influx of reinsurance business into the EU if the UK voted to leave. And Lloyd’s of London chief risk officer Steven McGovern warned that Britain would have to seek Solvency II equivalence if it left the EU — a privilege Bermuda already has on its own merits — and also cause financial turmoil in European financial markets. Bermudians who hold UK passports are also set to lose the automatic right to live and work in Europe on equal terms with Euro nationals, although those already resident will not lose that right under treaty provisions. Mr Wojciechowski said that the BSX would continue to work to improve the domestic capital market, including the insurance-linked securities class, where Bermuda is the global listings leader. “In the face of change, Bermuda’s ILS platform remains a stable centre of excellence for the creation and listing of these structures and as an industry, we stand ready to provide collaborative support to overseas colleagues to help drive the global ILS market.” Grainne Richmond, president of the Bermuda Insurance Management Association, said it was too early to comment on the full effects of Brexit as it will take years for Britain to untangle itself from Europe after 43 years as a member of the EU. As an economic bloc, the European Union is stronger with the United Kingdom in it, yet respect has to be given to the decision of the British people. It will likely take years for a full departure of Britain from the EU, therefore it remains premature to comment on any effects the vote will have on the captive insurance market. BIMA and our members will be monitoring the process closely in the UK.”

2016. May 28. The printing of passports for British Overseas Territories Citizens is soon to switch over to Britain, in a move that the Progressive Labour Party warned could lead to delays in processing. Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, Minister of Home Affairs, said the move, which was mandated by the UK, would take effect on June 29, meaning BOTC passports could take up to four weeks to process. While the minister said the shift meant that BOT citizens would receive the most up-to-date biometric passports available, it was unwelcome news for the Opposition. Walter Roban, the Shadow Minister of National Security, said the PLP had “never been happy” with the switch, announced a year ago. “We in the Overseas Territories are effectively losing autonomy that we have had for decades for our citizens,” Mr Roban said. The Opposition also had concerns over “well-publicised backlogs” that have troubled the UK services in the past. The application process will not change, and passport applications can be found with a list of fees on the government website. The minister added that Bermuda’s office would retain a stock of passports to be printed on compassionate grounds, or for urgent government business.

2016. May 20. With the UK's blessing, because it handles all Bermuda's external affairs, The Bermuda Government will explore the potential of establishing a connecting air service between the island and the Azores. The announcement was made yesterday by Michael Dunkley in the House of Assembly as he provided information about the trip this month to the Azores by a government delegation. “We could not help but notice that Azorean Airlines has a direct flight between the Azores and San Francisco,” the Premier said. “Just imagine if en route to San Francisco that flight stopped over in Bermuda. Many Bermudians and persons with Azorean connections would undoubtedly take advantage of a direct route between our islands. This is an opportunity that we will pursue with Azorean Airlines.” Mr Dunkley told MPs that the delegation, which included Attorney-General Trevor Moniz, also visited the São Miguel Science and Technology Park. “A technology park such as this would benefit Bermuda and something that we should aspire to implement,” he said. “Innovation has the ability to enhance our sustainable development and to provide economic diversification, thereby further enhancing our global competitiveness.” During the visit, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Bermuda and the Azores to help promote “co-operation and mutual understanding” between the two countries. The Premier said the agreement would enable the two governments to co-operate in a variety of fields, including cultural and historical as well as marine conservation and sustainable development. “The Azores is a strong viable partner to Bermuda and a Memorandum of Understanding will only strengthen that special relationship between both communities,” Mr Dunkley said. “Agriculture is a fundamental part of the Azorean economy and we visited a number of agriculture businesses. One of these businesses was a tea plantation, which has been in operation since 1883 and takes pride as the only tea plantation in Europe. We had the pleasure to visit a dairy farm, where it was of interest to note the owner maintains tourist accommodation. This is just the beginning of an enhanced friendship with the Azores. We have much in common and there are many areas we can share our areas of expertise.”

2016. May 4. Government House has refused to release records detailing why a Bermudian twice lost out on the post of Director of Public Prosecutions. The Royal Gazette made a public access to information request late last year for “all the information and documentation on the selection process” for the job when it was advertised in 2013 and 2014. Long-serving Deputy DPP Cindy Clarke, a Bermudian, is understood to have been the only applicant to respond to the job advert in 2013, and she was appointed to take over from work permit holder Rory Field, subject to what Governor George Fergusson referred to as a “suggested transitional period”. But the appointment became “untenable”, according to Mr Fergusson, after what he said were “certain subsequent developments”. Mr Field agreed to carry on as DPP in December of that year and Government House later said there would be no investigation into why the Bermudian candidate was not appointed. In January last year, English barrister Mr Field was reappointed as DPP for another two years, prompting Michael Dunkley to “strongly” express his concerns to the Governor. The Premier said he would raise the issue with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office junior minister with responsibility for the UK Overseas Territories, while shadow Attorney-General Michael Scott described the reappointment as a “slap in the face” to those who believed Bermudians should come first. About 15 lawyers staged a mass walkout when Mr Field gave an address to a special sitting of the Supreme Court, citing their disappointment at the non-appointment of a “perfectly qualified Bermudian”. Mr Field resigned last December. Subsequent adverts for his post said only Bermudians or candidates living on the island could apply and Bermudian lawyer Larry Mussenden was announced as his replacement last month. The aim of our Pati request was to find out why Ms Clarke was twice passed over for promotion but it was rejected by Deputy Governor Ginny Ferson, information officer for Government House. She decided the records were exempt from disclosure as they contained personal information and information received in confidence. This newspaper appealed Ms Ferson’s decision to the Governor and he agreed with her that the personal information exemption did “apply to the material relative to the decisions affecting the appointment (and non-appointment) of candidates”. He said other information given in confidence by “candidates and others involved in the selection process from outside the public service” was also exempt. Mr Fergusson did release some information. He told us that in 2013 one candidate applied who met the criteria for the job and in 2014 there were four candidates, including Mr Field. He also shared e-mail correspondence relating to the search for a replacement for Mr Field in 2013 and 2014. An e-mail from Mr Fergusson, dated July 18, 2013, stated that he had discussions with both the Premier and Chief Justice Ian Kawaley about filling the position. “The immediate background is that Rory Field’s contract expires in September,” the Governor wrote. “I had previously agreed with him that I would appoint him afresh for the period of September-31 December to enable him to complete Privy Council cases in which he had been engaged and to allow for the completion of Cindy Clarke’s attachment to the Crown Prosecution Service in time for her to be a candidate. Rory Field has notified me that, if offered the opportunity, he would like to stay on for a further full term. I have informed him that I want to give Bermudian candidates an opportunity to compete for the role.” He suggested that an advert be produced, recommending it specify that the competition was “limited to Bermudians”. The subsequent advert stated that the applicant should be “Bermudian or free of Bermuda immigration control”. When Mr Field’s contract again approached a close in 2014, e-mailed discussions about filling the post resumed. In September 2014, Mr Fergusson wrote to Dr Justice Kawaley noting that a draft of the advert for the post included lines specifying that the candidates should “be Bermudian or free of Bermuda immigration control” and that “only candidates currently practising in Bermuda need apply”. Mr Fergusson added: “That was the original model — before you came and persuaded me to go for a full international offering, with Bermudians being given preference.” Dr Justice Kawaley responded that there had been a “proofing mistake” on his own part, adding: “I thought I had deleted the Bermudian-only requirement as we discussed at the JLSC [Judicial and Legal Services Committee] meeting — that was my main point on the issue!!!” The Governor proposed an amendment which would state that preference would be given to Bermudians or applicants who were practising on the island at the time but Dr Justice Kawaley responded that the use of “preference” would result in a much larger scope. The Chief Justice later wrote that the JLSC decided to exclude overseas applications altogether but allow non-Bermudians already on the island to apply. The final version of the advert — which appeared in The Royal Gazette on September 17 and September 23, 2014 — included a line stating that only Bermudians or candidates practising in Bermuda could apply. Dr Justice Kawaley later recused himself from the selection committee, with an e-mail from Governor Fergusson to Justice Edward Zacca stating that the Chief Justice felt he was “too well informed about some of the circumstances of the last appointment process”. We have appealed the Government House Pati decisions to the information commissioner, as is the right of any requester under the legislation, and are awaiting to hear the outcome of her independent review

2015. December 23. Deputy Governor Ginny Ferson will be away from Bermuda between February and May of next year as she undertakes a special assignment for the St Helena Government. While Mrs Ferson is in St Helena former Deputy Governor David Arkley will serve as acting Deputy Governor. A statement released by Government House today said: “Government House has announced that Deputy Governor Ginny Ferson has been asked to undertake a special assignment to assist the St Helena Government with implementation of the recommendations of the Wass Inquiry. “She is expected to be in St Helena from February to May 2016. In her absence, former Deputy Governor David Arkley will be Acting Deputy Governor.”

2015. December 4. Premier Michael Dunkley has hit back at calls for Bermuda to make its beneficial ownership information public, claiming that critics are “attempting to solve a problem that does not exist.” After three days of meetings in London, the British Overseas Territories (OTs) agreed to put information on the people who ultimately own and control companies — so-called beneficial owners — in centralized registries, something the Premier noted that Bermuda had done for more than 70 years. Rosie Sharpe from international transparency campaign group Global Witness claimed the move “falls short of what is needed” and called for the information to be made fully public. Ed Miliband, then as the Leader of the British Opposition, had threatened that a Labour administration would brand Bermuda a tax haven unless it published a list of the beneficial owners of offshore firms. After talks this week, the OTs announced in a statement: “We noted that the Overseas Territories were responsible for their own tax rates and generating the revenue necessary for the provision of essential public services. It is not appropriate to refer to British Territories as tax havens. We agreed to hold beneficial ownership information in our respective jurisdictions via central registers or similarly effective systems. We discussed the details of how these systems should be implemented, including through technical dialogue between the Overseas Territories and UK law enforcement authorities on further developing a timely, safe and secure information exchange process to increase our collective effectiveness for the purposes of law enforcement. We agreed that addressing this issue would be given the highest priority and that progress on implementation would be kept under continuous and close review.” Mr Dunkley, who flew back to Bermuda yesterday, stated: “Bermuda has had for over 70 years a world-leading, Government-held central register of beneficial ownership that long predates those in most developed countries, including the UK, and has at every opportunity shared the information requested by legitimate international authorities, within 24 hours.” Mr Dunkley dismissed the idea that Bermuda may encourage illicit practices by refusing to fully share its data. He added: “Those who demand Bermuda makes its register public are attempting to solve a problem that does not exist, and demonstrate a lack of respect towards the transparency and regulatory standards Bermuda has upheld, arguably unsurpassed, for many decades.” Ms Sharpe called the agreement “a small step forward”, but claimed it did little to prevent serious corruption. She said: “The UK’s Overseas Territories lie at the heart of the global secrecy industry; companies registered here are the most abused in the world. A study by the World Bank into more than 200 cases of grand corruption had concluded that companies from Overseas Territories are most popular with the corrupt. “This measure may help the UK track down tax evaders and the corrupt, but what about the rest of the world? The only way for tax inspectors and law enforcement to easily know that someone is hiding money in a bank account that belongs to a company is for information on the people who own and control companies to be public.” One of the Overseas Territories, Montserrat, recently announced that it would make information on beneficial owners public, albeit not online and for a small fee. Ms Sharpe said: “David Cameron is hosting an anti-corruption summit next May. But the UK will lack credibility in calling for other countries to get better at tackling corruption when its own backyard remains shrouded in secrecy. We need a fully public register. David Cameron said that he would continue to make the case to the Overseas Territories for company ownership transparency. Private centralized information is not a transparency measure.” Global Witness also raised concerns that no timetable has been set out, and does not define what it means by “similarly effective systems.”

2015. December 4. Bermuda must refrain from isolating itself and pay attention to the outside world, Michael Dunkley has insisted after returning from London. The Premier visited the British capital from Monday to Thursday to attend the annual Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council Meetings. This morning, he told the House of Assembly: “While we may be blessed to live on a beautiful island in the middle of the Atlantic, and while it may be romantic to think of ourselves as living in another world, the reality is that we are subject to, and need to be responsive to forces that emanate outside of our 22 square miles.” Elsewhere in his ministerial statement, Mr Dunkley conceded that the most contentious issue of his trip was beneficial ownership. The UK has placed pressure on Bermuda to publish a list of the beneficial owners of offshore firms, something Mr Dunkley has previously claimed would be “attempting to solve a problem that does not exist. We have publicly stated our position on this on many occasions. We believe that the UK understands that Bermuda is a world leader with regard to protections against money laundering and illicit financing. We are proud of our record and stand firmly on it.” The Premier added that during talks with James Duddridge, the UK Minister responsible for the Overseas Territories. other subjects discussed included the appointment of Bermuda’s next Governor and enhanced maritime security. As well as courting the heads of London insurance companies, Mr Dunkley said he took the chance to promote the Island as a tourism destination. He met with the Times Group, who are planning a special supplement on Bermuda for early next year, and attended a breakfast with travel writers from publications including The Independent, Tatler and National Geographic Traveller. “The Government takes every opportunity to tell Bermuda’s story, and it is an exciting story to tell,” said Mr Dunkley, who was accompanied on the visit by Bob Richards, the Deputy Premier. “Bermuda’s representation is only enhanced by cultivating relationships with those with whom we wish to do business,” he added.

2015. December 2. Michael Dunkley has vowed to “do what is required to keep our solid reputation intact”, if the beneficial ownership issue raises its head during his London trip. The Premier arrived in the British capital on Monday for a three-day visit to take part in Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council meetings. “We started with sessions on climate change and the environment, health, seniors and pensions,” he told The Royal Gazette, adding that today’s sessions would involve child safeguarding and economic development. I’m sure beneficial ownership will come up there,” added Mr Dunkley, referring to the debate sparked this year by Ed Miliband, then Leader of the British Opposition, who threatened that a Labour administration would brand the Island a tax haven unless Bermuda published a list of the beneficial owners of offshore firms. “The UK is very focused on the topic because we’ve been a leader in that area for some many years and the UK is basically trying to play catch-up with us as far as their register goes,” he said. “Ours works well. There’s never been an access for information that’s been denied, so that issue is one that we have to continue to talk about, because people just don’t understand.” Joining the Premier of Bermuda on the visit are senior figures from nine other Overseas Territories, including Gibraltar, Cayman Islands and Anguilla. “The OTs are all willing to share information and that has put us in a good position going forward,” Mr Dunkley said. “It’s a pretty tight-knit group. We share some of the same challenges, but we also bring some unique perspectives to the table as well.” Mr Dunkley said that his trip, which featured a Soho reception on Monday for students and young Bermudians residing in London, was “non-stop” but would be “very productive for us in the short- and long-term.” He also said that promoting Bermuda as a tourist destination would remain a priority for himself and the Deputy Premier, Bob Richards. “We are continually reaching out to the media,” said Mr Dunkley, adding that the pair would be meeting with Bill Hanbury, the chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, tomorrow morning for a media breakfast to discuss the matter. “We’re keen to talk about tourism,” he added. “There’s a great deal of opportunity to increase the passenger count coming from Europe to our paradise in the ocean.”

2015. November 30. Premier Michael Dunkley traveled to London to take part in Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council meetings. According to a Cabinet Office spokeswoman, the meetings were scheduled to begin yesterday and continue until December 3, with the Premier being joined by representatives from Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, Ascension Island, Tristan da Cunha, St Helena and Pitcairn. Among the topics for discussion are economic diversification and development, regional border security, global standards of financial regulation accountability and transparency and environmental sustainability. “While in London, the Premier will also engage in meetings with OT leaders, Foreign and Commonwealth Office representatives and meet with recognized business entities such as Lloyd’s of London,” the spokeswoman said. “The Premier will also conduct UK media outreach and attend a media breakfast sponsored by the Bermuda Tourism Authority.” This evening Mr Dunkley will also take part in a networking reception for Bermudians living, working and studying at the university level, hosted by the Bermuda Government’s London Office.

2015. August 27.  A favorable trip to London by Michael Dunkley has been notable for what did not come up in talks, the Premier said. “One thing that never came up was the European Union blacklist,” Mr Dunkley said of his meeting with British Cabinet ministers. In June, the EU’s executive commission included Bermuda in a list of jurisdictions that had failed to take sufficient action on tax avoidance. “That seems to have faded from the radar,” Mr Dunkley told The Royal Gazette. He added that he had been “delighted” by the appointment of Sir David Amess to chair the Britain-Bermuda All Party Parliamentary Group. “With his experience and connections in the House of Parliament, this will work well for Bermuda,” he said. Also absent from the agenda was the Island’s evolving airport terminal deal with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, the subject of repeated concerns raised at home by the Progressive Labour Party. Mr Dunkley met yesterday with the British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, who he said had been “intricately involved” in the letter of entrustment sent to the Island by the British Government on the redevelopment plan. “There was no real concern over there,” Mr Dunkley said, adding that Mr Hammond was “well aware” of the issues entailed in the proposal. During a 45-minute talk, the two discussed benefits to the Island to be gained from hosting the America’s Cup, as well as “what we are trying to do to turn the economy around and make our Civil Service more effective.” Mr Dunkley added: “We also discussed an issue that has been prevalent with the UK for some time, which is the matter of the public register for beneficial ownership. They understand our position, and acknowledge that we were ahead of them on that.” A furore on beneficial ownership was sparked this year when Ed Miliband, then Leader of the British Opposition, threatened that a Labour administration would brand the Island a tax haven unless Bermuda published a list of the beneficial owners of offshore firms. “I look forward to continuing dialogue on our efforts to remain an effective, transparent and well-regulated jurisdiction in all regards,” Mr Dunkley said. “I was excited to meet with two Cabinet ministers, both very senior. This puts Bermuda in a good position going forward. It has been some time since we have talks with ministers on that level.” Also part of the discussion was the upcoming Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council meetings in November. As with his previous meetings with British ministers, the Premier presented the Foreign Secretary with a pair of traditional Bermuda shorts and knee socks. “I also had the run of the media, which is an effective way to keep Bermuda on the map, talking about where we stand in business and tourism,” Mr Dunkley said. He conducted interviews with BBC Radio 4, BBC Business Live and CNBC UK Closing Bell. In each instance the topics of discussion included Bermuda’s reputation in financial services, with Mr Dunkley providing clarity about Bermuda’s tax regime. It is anticipated the CNBC interview will air today while the BBC interviews will air next month. Mr Dunkley is accompanied in his London meetings by the Secretary to the Cabinet, Derrick Binns, and the Bermuda Government’s London Office director and representative in Britain, Kimberley Durrant.

2015. August 13.  Maintenance costs at LF Wade International Airport are rising “exponentially” and each time a major hurricane hits the Island taxpayers will incur millions of dollars in repair costs, Finance Minister Bob Richards has warned. The vulnerability of the airport to storms is one of the major arguments for the Bermuda Government’s plans to build a new airport terminal in a less hurricane-prone location, Mr Richards said. The $250 million project will be financed by a private-sector developer — meaning there will be no need for Government to add to its debt — who will then take over management of airport operations for a 30-year period. Government has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a branch of the Canadian government, which has in turn selected Canada-based Aecon Group Ltd as the developer and concessionaire. However, in an update on the project in response to questions from The Royal Gazette, Mr Richards said Government is still more than a year away from signing any contract and that ground will not be broken before the second half of next year. The opposition Progressive Labour Party (PLP) has raised concerns about the airport revenue that will be lost over 30 years, but Mr Richards said expenses would be offloaded too. “The current terminal is in the worst possible location insofar as hurricanes are concerned — too close to Castle Harbour and vulnerable to storm waves riding storm surges,” Mr Richards said. “That’s what happened with Fabian, with seawater up to the ceiling. Spending good money, $12.5 million after Fabian and over $2 million after Faye and Gonzalo, will be repeat events if the terminal is not moved to a safer location and higher elevation. As our principal gateway to the world we cannot have an airport so vulnerable to hurricanes. The new terminal at its proposed locale will lower that risk materially.” Taxpayers made a small loss on airport operations in the fiscal year through March 2015, according to government figures. The Department of Airport Operations took in $10.7 million, from sources such as landing fees, commercial passenger charges and aviation security fees. When $13.4 million of airport departure taxes are included, total revenue was $24.1 million. Airport expenditure, including compensation for 43 staff, maintenance, energy and professional services, totaled $24.4 million. In the 2015-16 fiscal year, an increase in the departure tax from $35 to $50 per passenger will increase total airport revenue to $30.8 million, while expenses are projected to fall to $19.3 million. As no deal has been struck with a concessionaire, it is not yet clear whether Government would maintain any share of those future revenues or expenses. Deloitte was brought in to analyze the project and to compare it with UK government “Green Book” standards for procurement. Deloitte found gaps between what the Government has done so far and the UK standards, required to make a “full business case”. Since the UK is responsible for Bermuda’s external affairs and the airport project has involved working with a Canada government entity in the shape of CCC, Government House was consulted on the project. Last month the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office sent a letter of entrustment to Governor George Fergusson, stating that “the United Kingdom Government and the Government of Bermuda must agree on what measures are required to address the deficiencies that are identified by Deloitte.” Mr Richards said: “Government is in the process of promulgating responses and information that will satisfy the gaps relative to HM Treasury’s Green Book as outlined by the Deloitte report. When this is complete we will fulfill the requirements of the entrustment letter. Nowhere in the Deloitte report does it refer to ‘deficiencies’. This word can only be found in the entrustment letter. In so far as Bermuda law and regulations are concerned there are no deficiencies. Considering where we are in the process, the findings in the report are not surprising and we still have opportunities to close the gaps identified in the Deloitte report before entering into any contracts.” Mr Richards said Government had agreed voluntarily to the Deloitte review, in the belief that its findings would improve the project’s value for money and reduce risk. “Merely because Deloitte did not find lengthy memoranda or explanatory documents regarding, for instance a ‘full business case’, does in no way indicate that such matters were not considered, discussed and deliberated on in the Ministry of Finance or the Cabinet, because they definitely were,” the Finance Minister stressed. “Bermuda Financial Instructions (FI), the set of rules that govern financial procedures under which the Bermuda Government operates, do not require or even suggest that such memoranda or documents be prepared.” Such documents were “not boxes that we have to tick in the process mandated by FI”, he added. Under UK guidelines, a “full business case” would be required before making a “Gate 3” decision, or a final investment decision. “It is important to note that the Government is not yet ready to make a Gate 3 investment decision,” Mr Richards said. “We are over a year from making this decision. So we have the opportunity to close the gaps that have been identified before entering into contracts for the concession with the selected private sector supplier. The project will not break ground before the second half of 2016.” Some observers have questioned whether Bermuda needs a new airport terminal right now. Mr Richards said storm vulnerability, the benefits of economic stimulus from the project and keeping up with competitors were all valid reasons. “During the 1930s the US borrowed billions and built iconic structures like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam, the George Washington Bridge and the Empire State Building to reduce unemployment,” Mr Richards said. “We need to similarly stimulate our economy, but we don’t have that proportionate borrowing capacity. With the project financed in this way, this Government can stimulate the Bermuda economy during difficult economic times, create construction jobs and longer-term retail jobs in the process. This terminal is an integral part of our recovery strategy.” Rival international business centres and tourism destinations were building new airport terminals, he added. “Bahamas has just finished one. Cayman is building one in phases. Barbados built a new airport some time ago. If we are to compete and live up to our brand, ‘First Tier, First Class, First World’, we cannot have a third-world airport. While you may say nobody will come to Bermuda because of the airport, people’s overall impressions of the jurisdiction will definitely by colored by their travel and airport experience. Being First Tier demands investment to make it so.” When private-sector operators take over public-sector facilities, there are numerous instances of jobs, wages and benefits being slashed. Mr Richards said this would not be the scenario with Bermuda’s new terminal. “If you look at the Quito, Ecuador airport, which CCC/Aecon built, the scenario you described did not happen,” he said. “The jobs and compensation of the staff at our airport will be protected. In fact, more jobs will be created there. In the Quito airport, 99 per cent of the jobs there were filled by locals.” The Finance Minister argued that taxpayers would get value for money. “Bermuda will acquire a strategic asset that its residents as well its customers will enjoy for many years to come,” Mr Richards said. “It will be more efficient, both in terms of energy use as well as operationally. It will enhance the retail opportunities offered to travelers. It will be handicap friendly and protect travelers from the vagaries of the weather. It will reduce maintenance costs which are currently on an exponential growth curve. It will offer easy expansion options should that need arise.”

2015. July 25. The terms of the British Government’s entrustment letter concerning the controversial airport deal have been unveiled by Government House. The Bermuda Government must agree with 10 Downing Street on deficiencies identified by Deloitte, the letter states, while the government balance sheet should rack up no debt over the project. Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, had previously said that the entrustment letter removed ambiguity over the authority of the government to engage with the Canadian Commercial Corporation in constructing the new terminal. Reacting to the release of the full entrustment letter yesterday, David Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance, repeated his call for the Government to put the project out to tender. The entrustment letter states: “The cost of the construction of the airport must be wholly borne by CCC and the selected developer and subcontractors. No debt should appear on the balance sheet of the Government of Bermuda that relates to the airport construction. The United Kingdom Government and the Government of Bermuda must agree on what measures are required to address the deficiencies that are identified by Deloitte in their assessment report[s]. The Government of Bermuda must publish a written and evidence-based assurance that the required measures have been taken, before the Contract can be concluded.” The entrustment letter also states that the Government of Bermuda “will keep the United Kingdom Government informed as to the progress of its negotiations with the CCC.” Mr Burt pointed to two additions to the original entrustment letter dated November 10 last year:

• (6b) The United Kingdom Government and the Government of Bermuda must agree on what measures are required to address the deficiencies that are identified by Deloitte in their assessment report(s);

• (6c) The Government of Bermuda must publish a written and evidence-based assurance that the required measures have been taken, before the contract can be concluded.

“These additions make it clear that the OBA Government must address the numerous deficiencies that were identified by Deloitte in their independent report,” Mr Burt said. “That report was very critical of the OBA Government’s approach to the airport redevelopment and highlighted ‘key’ and ‘integral’ steps missing from the economic case. The Deloitte report examined the commercial case and poured cold water on the OBA’s claim that their current approach can guarantee value for money. Deloitte went on to recommend that the Government independently assess some of the claims made by CCC, especially the claim that a sole-source procurement is the only viable option. Deloitte also examined the financial case and found that many items were developed by CCC and may not take into account the full costs to be borne by the Government of Bermuda.” Mr Burt called it “critical that the largest capital project in Bermuda’s history is executed correctly” — particularly as the OBA planned to give Aecon control over the air terminal for “the next 35 years.” The Opposition had called from the outset for the project to go to competitive tender, he said, to ensure the best deal possible. “Further, we agree with the independent Deloitte report which states that the Government must use a ‘public sector comparator’ to ensure that the public-private partnership (PPP) that they have agreed to makes the most long-term economic sense for Bermuda. We look forward to reading the ‘written and evidenced-based assurance’ that is required by this latest Letter of Entrustment and it is our expectation that the alternate options required by the Deloitte report will be published in that document so the Bermudian people can determine whether or not the OBA’s sole-sourced PPP is the best option for Bermuda.” However, Mr Richards said he was entirely satisfied with “improvements” made to the original letter tabled in the House, pointing out that the Deloitte report used UK requirements that do not apply in Bermuda’s case. “We don’t have those rules in Bermuda,” the minister said. “That does not mean that these things were not considered by the Ministry of Finance or Cabinet. It just means they didn’t find anything in writing pertaining to those requirements when they came and spoke with us about it. We complied with financial instructions.” Mr Richards added: “There are no deficiencies because we are operating by a different set of rules. There is no deficiency so far as thought processes or due consideration by the ministry or Cabinet.” The minister said he expected a “go or no-go decision in the next couple of weeks”, with work on the new terminal to commence within the subsequent year. The new terminal will not be ready in time for the 2017 America’s Cup, he added. “It was not intended for it to be,” he said. “The two are not connected.” Mr Richards stressed the need for “a new airport in a different location”, less susceptible to hurricanes, and said the Government had urgently sought a way of replacing the dilapidated former terminal without adding to national debt. He said he had shown brief video clips of the terminal’s drastic flooding experienced during last October’s hurricanes at a number of presentations, and that these were enough to end the debate. “It has passed its sell-by date,” Mr Richards said. Mr Burt said the Progressive Labour Party would call a public meeting on the matter this August, adding that he hoped Mr Richards would allow independent debate in Parliament on the Deloitte report. “For two months he has refused to debate this report and we believe that this project is far too important not to debate all aspects in Parliament.” The entrustment letter, signed by Peter Hayes, Director of Overseas Territories, and dated July 17, 2015, also says: “I believe the continued deterioration of Bermuda’s fiscal situation to be a cause of significant concern and taking on board more debt is unlikely to provide a sustainable solution over the longer term. However, I have also considered the assurances I have received from the evaluation work undertaken by an independent accounting firm of internationally reputable standing [Deloitte], which assessed whether the project for the redevelopment of the airport represents value for money for Bermuda according to the requirements of the full business case under Her Majesty’s Treasury Green Book guidance for appraisal of public spending proposals. Subject to the requirements set out in paragraphs 6 and 7, the United Kingdom Government delegates authority to the Bermudian Government to enter into a contract with CCC to redevelop the airport.”

2015. July 25. Leaders of several Overseas Territories including Bermuda released a joint statement following a Pre-Joint Ministerial Council meeting. Representatives from territories (OTs) including Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands all took part in the meeting in Bermuda this week. The goal of the international gathering was to discuss matters of common interest in order to present a unified front later this year at the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Council. In advance of the meeting, Premier Michael Dunkley said: “As we prepare for this year’s Joint Ministerial Council, let us approach the UK Government in strength. “Let us present a united front in those areas that matter to all of us. Let us work together to represent the best interests of the people we were elected to serve and to guard against pressures that would otherwise threaten those interests.” According to the joint statement, the discussions covered a number of topics, including economic diversification, strengthening families, good governance, meeting global standards of financial accountability and environmental sustainability. Notable measures included:

The statement concluded: “We reaffirm our commitment and respect for the principles outlined in our constitutions and will uphold our obligations to our electorate and the people we serve.”

July meeting of Bermuda and other British Overseas Territory ministers

2015. July 24. The issue of beneficial ownership was high on the agenda during the first day of the Pre-Joint Ministerial Council meeting being hosted in Bermuda, according to Premier Michael Dunkley. Leaders from several Overseas Territories banded together to discuss issues of mutual interest ahead of a scheduled meeting of the Joint Ministerial Council. Mr Dunkley told The Royal Gazette that he made his stance clear, as he has done in the past, that he believes Bermuda’s existing registry is in the spirit of transparency and highlights Bermuda as a quality international financial centre. He said: “The issue of beneficial ownership was topical before the election, during the election period, certainly during the UK election period and it continues to be. The deputy Premier and Minister of Finance have been very aggressive on exposing our position on where we stand and we used a significant amount of time this morning to make sure we can put forward a collective position to talk to the UK about it. The UK has been very clear that they would like access to registries and our position has been very clear: we have had a registry for 80 years, we allow access to the registry and we are willing to work with the UK going forward.” Mr Dunkley said part of the discussions also centred on strengthening relations between the OTs and the UK. “We had a quiet discussion about where we see ourselves going forward. If the OTs are going to get stronger it is important that we all have access to the appropriate ministers, right up to the Prime Minister to be able to deal with the subjects that fall under their portfolio and can help us to move forward.” Mr Dunkley said in a statement earlier in the day: “Recently strengthened by a clear majority in Parliament, Prime Minister Cameron is at liberty to examine policies afresh and so it is vitally important for us to be in harmony on issues that affect us as territories.” Other big issues of the day included infrastructure projects in the various overseas territories, including Bermuda’s airport terminal, health issues, child safeguarding issues, the environment and climate change. The two-day meeting is intended to serve as a planning session, allowing those involved to discuss issues affecting the OTs in advance of a Joint Ministerial Conference scheduled to take place in November 2015. Among those who traveled to the Island to take part are Premier Rufus Ewing, of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Premier Orlando Smith, of the British Virgin Islands, Premier Alden McLaughlin, of the Cayman Islands, Deputy Premier of Montserrat Dolmades Ryan and Roger Anthony Edwards, Member of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands. Other OTs will be represented remotely, including Ascension Island, Tristan da Cunha, St Helena and Pitcairn. Speaking yesterday, Mr Dunkley said that all of the territories involved have faced difficulties since their last meetings, including “economic headwinds” slowing the pace of recovery. “These challenges have tested our democracies and our ability to navigate our people safely through the choppy waters of recession. Our meetings this week are held against a backdrop of cautious growth in the United States, pockets of turmoil in the European Union and complex tourism dynamics in the region. Added to that are the social issues that occupy our domestic agendas, including the threat of the gang lifestyle, increasing healthcare costs and the ability of governments to provide relief for the most vulnerable of its citizens. There is cause for much hope within the territories. Each of us in our own ways continue to ‘punch well above our weight’ on the international stage. This is something of which we are justifiably proud and which we must continue to do.” In addition to international challenges, Mr Dunkley said each of the nations are faced with domestic issues that require the same level of attention. “The expectations of our people have been disappointed by the challenges of unemployment and inadequate revenue. The task, as you all know, is difficult. We cannot simply balance budgets through redundancies or cost cutting without regard to impact. The people affected by either of those actions have nowhere else to go; not the next state, county or district. So we have to find creative ways to reduce spending and balance budgets while restoring growth to our economies.”

Premier with British Overseas Territory Premiers

2015. July 19.  Leaders of the UK’s Overseas Territories will gather in Bermuda this week ahead of the Joint Ministerial Council. It’s the second time the Island has hosted the precursor of the JMC that will be held in London later in the year. The pre-meeting, which takes place at Rosewood Tucker’s Point from July 22 to 24, will be attended by Orlando Smith, Premier of the British Virgin Islands; Alden McLaughlin, Premier of the Cayman Islands; Rufus Ewing, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Dolmades Ryan, the Deputy Premier of Montserrat and Roger Anthony Edwards, member of the legislative assembly of the Falkland Islands. Other overseas territories of the South Atlantic including Ascension Island, Tristan da Cunha, St Helena and Pitcairn will be represented remotely. “Bermuda is very pleased to welcome the OT Heads of Government and OT representatives,” said Michael Dunkley, who will be chairing this week’s meetings. “The Joint Ministerial Council is the highest political forum between the UK Government and elected leaders and representatives of the Overseas Territories. It’s objective is to provide leadership in delivering shared priorities as set out in the 2012 White Paper. So the pre-meetings provide an invaluable opportunity for us to have frank and meaningful discussions about critical matters facing each of our countries in preparation for the OT JMC meeting later this year. Areas of focus at this week’s meetings will Centre on social and economic development, environmental and security matters and the relationship between the OTs and the UK.”

2015. April 16. Bermudians who travel to the UK for longer than six months and do not have a British passport must obtain a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), Government confirmed this evening. The new rules, which are being rolled out in other countries including the Cayman Islands, will take effect in Bermuda from May 31. The BRP card is a credit-card sized immigration document that contains a secure embedded chip. Fingerprints and a digital photo within the chip contain biometrics unique to each individual. The BRP provides evidence of the holder’s immigration status in the UK. It can be used as proof of right to work, study and access public services in the UK. “While the Bermuda public was alerted to this matter from an announcement made by the Cayman Islands, the actual effective date for Bermuda is May 31,” said chief immigration officer, Dr Danette Ming. “Under the direction of the Deputy Governor’s Office a formal public announcement in Bermuda was on the point of issuing.” As of March 18 BRPs for non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals travelling to the UK for more than six months began to be issued in phases according to country. Bermudians possessing a British Citizen Passport will not be impacted by the change. “As before, Bermuda passport holders will be able to travel to the UK for up to six months without a visa but, if they want to stay longer, they need to get a BRP,” said Dr. Ming. “To completely avoid the requirement for a visa for an intended stay in the UK longer than six months, the remedy is for that person to obtain a British Citizen passport.”

2013. December 13. Bermuda's first female Deputy Governor was sworn in at a ceremony at Government House. A career diplomat, Mrs. Ginny Ferson has previously worked in Mauritius, Luxembourg, South Korea and Pakistan during her more-than 25 years with the Diplomatic Service. She replaces David Arkley. A mother of two, Mrs. Ferson served as Deputy Governor of Pitcairn while she was simultaneously First Secretary at the British High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand and then British Consul-General in Auckland, New Zealand. The duties of the Deputy Governor include being an ex-officio notary public who can perform or notarize anything on behalf of the Bermuda Government but may not receive a fee for this service. Contact details are Deputy Governor's Office, Government House, 11 Langton Hill, Pembroke, Hamilton. Phone 441 292-3600. Fax 441 295-3823.

2013. November 29.  Bermuda supports up to 100,000 jobs in the UK and trade between the two nations averages about $1.4 billon a year, according to a secret report seen by The Royal Gazette. The report given to the UK Foreign Office in the run-up to the Overseas Territories summit this week outlines the trade links between Bermuda and Britain. A report on the Island on the Foreign Office website, which used parts of the report, said: Bermudas expertise and capacity contributes directly to the UK economy from generating over 100,000 jobs on the UK mainland, more UK jobs that, for instance, of Japanese industrial investment in the country. The full report prepared for the Bermuda Ministry of Finance by a Washington-based consultancy said there were 52,500 posts backed by foreign direct investment from Bermuda, while 17,500 jobs were due to the export of services to the Island and between 10-22,000 jobs were supported from goods exported from the UK to Bermuda. The report lists the major economic sector as shipping and transport, business services and, above all, insurance and reinsurance. It added: "Most of the trade is due to an expanding relationship in insurance services trade between the UK and Bermuda that began to show up clearly in data by 2005 but had begun with investments made earlier that decade. Even during the global financial meltdown trade links remained strong, and remained at around the 1 billion ($1.63 billion) mark. Bermuda's relative economic significance with the United Kingdom compared to other developed and much larger economies grew enormously since 2000 and remained at a high level throughout the crisis." Overall, Bermuda ranks in the top 20 of the most important export markets for the United Kingdom. In fact, Bermuda accounted for 16-25 percent of the United Kingdoms cross border trade in insurance services for the last ten years and 20 percent of UK reinsurance services imports. The report said that two-way trade and investment flows between the two countries averaged about $1.4 billion between 2001 and 2011. It added: "The bulk of the UK/Bermuda economic relationship is in the export and import of financial and non-financial services including equally both cross-border trade and services delivered through UK subsidiaries of companies headquartered in Bermuda." In 2011, UK cross-border service imports to Bermuda amounted to GBP338 million ($552 million) and UK imports from Bermuda were GBP680 million ($1.1 billion). The report said that Britain exports on average around $81.7 million in manufactured goods to the Island every year, It added: "The chief UK exports are transportation equipment principally yachts, commercial ships and airplanes made or finished in the UK or Europe." Bermuda's partnership with the UK in trade in ships and jets is long-standing and based on shared commitment to regulation of air and maritime safety and strong environmental standards. The report also said that Bermudas financial services industry attracted UK investors partly due to its close links to Britain and similar legal system. It added: "First, Bermuda provides a global investment platform that attracts international capital. Second, investors from around the world view Bermuda as well regulated, primarily because as a territory of the United Kingdom, Bermuda has close legal and administrative affinity with the UK regulatory system." Financial stakeholders have recourse to UK courts and the UK Financial Services Agency has strong relations to the Bermuda Monetary Authority. Third, Bermuda's tax system is attractive to most global investors. Bermuda does not tax worldwide income and does not impose a personal or corporate tax. The upshot of this large-scale international economic activity of Bermuda as a financial entrepot benefits the United Kingdom as well as other jurisdictions. Minister of Finance Bob Richards, who was part of the delegation at the London Overseas Territories meeting, was yesterday en route back to the Island and not available for comment.

2013. November 26. A summit meeting of the Overseas Territories and the UK government will focus on economic growth and job creation, the UK government said yesterday. Premier Craig Cannonier and Senator Michael Fahy, the Minister for Home Affairs, yesterday arrived in London for the meeting, held by Overseas Territories Minister Mark Simmonds. And the meeting, which starts today, will be followed for the first time by a business forum designed to promote investment opportunities in the UK's Overseas Territories. Mr Simmonds said: "Jobs and economic growth are fundamental to building safe, successful and sustainable territories." The year's joint ministerial council will focus on agreeing practical steps for the UK and Overseas Territories to work together to achieve that goal. According to the UK Foreign Office, the meeting will concentrate on economic diversification, attracting investment, vocational education and jobs. The FCO added: "There are also likely to be discussions on the environment, tax and transparency and the relationship between the Territories and the European Union." Follow-up business forum, to be held on Thursday, would bring together, for the first time, all the Overseas Territories with UK businesses and investors of all sizes to explore the numerous exciting investment opportunities available to the Territories. Mr Simmonds added: "I am delighted to welcome back the leaders from the Overseas Territories to the second joint ministerial council. We have achieved much by working in partnership towards our shared vision for the Territories as vibrant and flourishing communities in line with our 2012 white paper on the Territories." The council meeting will also discuss health, the environment, visas and passports and criminal justice issues.

2013. November 25.  Minister of Finance Bob Richards today signed the UK FATCA Intergovernmental Model 2 Agreement, IGA Model 2 with the United Kingdom. Signing on behalf of the UK was the Secretary to the Exchequer, the Hon. David Gauke. A press release announcing the move quoted the Minister of Finance, who said: "The signing of IGA Model 2 is in keeping with the Government's international tax strategy which is to demonstrate our commitment to tax transparency and automatic exchange of information, and ensure Bermudas reputation as the premier international financial jurisdiction in which to do business. The significance of choosing IGA Model 2 versus IGA Model 1 means all Bermuda's financial institutions must identify all UK residents with interests in Bermuda and automatically report them to HM Treasury on an annual basis. HM Treasury will receive the information on those residents in bulk form and will be able to issue group requests for information in relation to recalcitrant clients of Bermuda financial institutions." Recalcitrant clients are persons who refuse consent to allow the financial institution to automatically share their information. Additionally, where HM Treasury initiate investigations on a person with respect to possible tax evasion, a request for information can be made under the UK Bermuda Tax Information Exchange Agreement. Utilizing this method of automatic exchange of information guarantees the rights, safeguards, and confidentiality of the information received in regards to those persons.

2013. November 19.  Ahead of the annual meeting of Overseas Territories leaders this month in London, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office is featuring an overseas territory on Facebook every day. Bermuda will be today's selection. The annual Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council brings together political leaders from the Overseas Territories and UK Ministers. It will meet on November 26 and 27, hosted by then-FCO Minister for the Overseas Territories, Mark Simmonds. 

2013. November 8. Bermuda is the most secretive UK offshore territory, according to an influential British think tank on tax. Now the Tax Justice Network (TJN) has written to the Queen asking her to intervene to tackle tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions where she is Head of State. But last night Finance Minister Bob Richards blasted the survey and said it was riddled with inaccuracies and total nonsense. A letter from Tax Justice Network chairman John Christensen to the Queen said she should exert all possible influence to tackle harmful fault lines in the global economy. Bermuda comes top of the ten Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies reviewed in the biannual TJN financial secrecy index with a score of 80 one point ahead of Gibraltar and two points ahead of the scandal-hit Turks & Caicos Islands. But Mr Richards said: "I guess you just can't believe everything you see,  this article is sheer nonsense as far as Bermuda is concerned." Mr Richards singled out Bermuda being marked as wholly incompliant on obtaining and updating beneficial ownership information. But he said: "That is total nonsense. Bermuda has obtained beneficial ownership information on all international clients since soon after Second World War. We are one of the few places that does collect the information." The Island is also marked down on whether it requires company accounts to be publicly available. But Mr Richards said private company accounts are not required to be made public in most jurisdictions. He added: "I don't know of any G8 country that publicly reveals accounts unless they are a public company on the stock exchange. Its really hypocritical. It's not required in the US or UK." Mr Richards also pointed out that the island had signed almost 40 tax information exchange agreements including ones with almost all G8 countries and 75 percent of G20 countries. He added Bermuda had also signed up to the OECD/Council of Europe multilateral tax agreement and the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA). Mr Richards said: "This report is riddled with deception or a political agenda, I don't know which it is." TJN founder, accountant and economist Richard Murphy, said: "This unique index combines a secrecy score with a weighting to create a ranking of the countries that most actively and aggressively promote secrecy in global finance." Of 15 key secrecy indicators singled out by TJN, the island is listed as wholly incompliant on nine of them. Worldwide, Switzerland topped the league table of 82 countries. Mr Murphy said: "This new edition of the financial secrecy index shows that the United Kingdom is the most important player in the financial secrecy world. While the UK itself ranks only in 21st place, it supports and partly controls a web of secrecy jurisdictions around the world from Cayman and Bermuda to Jersey and Gibraltar. Had we aggregated the entire British network it would easily top the index, far above Switzerland. Claims in September by British Prime Minister David Cameron that the UK havens are no longer a concern are baseless. Our index, now expanded to cover 82 jurisdictions, also reveals how broader claims by the G20 and leading powers to have cracked down effectively on tax havens are bogus. While some welcome promises have been made and modest improvements seen, we remain light years away from seeing the transformative changes the world so urgently needs." Mr Cameron told a meeting of the powerful G8 group of nations in June that he would use Britain's presidency of the forum to rewrite the rules on tax and transparency for the benefit of countries right across the world. He was praised last week when he announced at the Open Government Partnership in London that companies registered in the UK would have to list their real owners in public filings. But tax campaigners said that the move was a token gesture unless it also included trusts and foundations and countries linked to Britain. Mr Christensen, who worked in the trust industry in Jersey and as an economic adviser to the Jersey government before quitting to become a tax transparency campaigner, said: "None of the Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies operate a properly transparent public register of offshore companies, trusts and foundations. None obtain information on beneficial ownership and make this publicly available. Not one requires that all company financial accounts are made publicly available. The use of offshore jurisdictions also hit countries who are members of the Commonwealth, which is headed by the Queen, and contributed to poverty in developing nations. The victims of this secrecy include, among others, a billion Commonwealth citizens. A recent study of 33 African countries found that they lost over $11 trillion in capital flight since the 1970s, of which $640 billion came from 16 Commonwealth countries. These losses dwarf the external debts of just $190 billion for the 33 countries."

2013. October 9.  Two top Foreign Office officials have paid a flying visit to Bermuda to familiarize themselves with the Islands business environment. And Tim Colley and Marilia Astle took time to meet with Chamber of Commerce members who stressed that Bermuda was not a tax haven, as it has been portrayed in sections of the UK media in recent times. The meeting also led to an invitation to the Chamber to send representatives to the UK Overseas Territories business, trade and investment forum, to be held in London next month. Joanne MacPhee, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said: "They were very interested in the Chambers position on the local economy and keen to receive an update on our current lobbying efforts. Our meeting was brief, but we were able to summarize a number of initiatives and report on a broad range of issues related to business in Bermuda. The issue of recent negative press in the UK was discussed and it is hoped that in the coming months the Bermuda Business Development Corporation will seek to address these issues head on and begin to generate positive press about our competitive advantages and favorable status as a transparent and well-regulated offshore jurisdiction that and the fact that Bermuda is very much open for business."  Deputy Governor David Arkley said the two Foreign Office diplomats had special responsibilities for the Overseas Territories in the Caribbean and Bermuda. Ms Astle, who has just taken over as team leader for the Caribbean Overseas Territories and Bermuda, was on her first visit to the island. Mr Arkley said: "It was a fact-finding mission just to get to know Bermuda. They will be looking after Bermuda in the London context and so it was a familiarization visit." The visit came after Bermuda hit the headlines again in a row over a tax avoidance scheme used by internet giants Google, which channels money through the Republic of Ireland to the Island in order to minimise its UK tax bill. Google last year only paid 2.6 percent tax in the US on sales worth $8.1 billion because it channeled most of its overseas profits through Bermuda, which has no corporate income tax. Previous revelations about Google's tax arrangements have led UK parliamentarians to denounce them as immoral and led to demands that the Island change its laws. Google said it follows tax rules in all the countries it operates in and pays little tax in the UK became its profits are not generated by UK employees. The UK arm of the firm, as well as other European operations, are designated as providers of marketing services to Google Ireland. But Google declares little profit in Ireland because it sends nearly all the cash it gets to the Bermuda affiliate, in the form of licence fees for use of Google intellectual property. The scheme although legal has attracted criticism in the recession-hit UK and led to the Island being branded as a tax haven. Mr Arkley said: "I would characterize this as something we are aware of and we have raised with the Bermuda Government. The characterization that comes out in the UK media is not always accurate. I know its something that Prime Minister David Cameron has made statements on and that's a more accurate portrayal of the UK government's position than that which appears in the newspapers in the UK."

2013. October 1. The tax spotlight was yesterday turned on Bermuda again after it was revealed that internet giants Google last year paid a tiny percentage in UK tax on sales of nearly $5 billion by funneling cash to the island. Previous revelations about Google's low tax bills have sparked calls for Bermuda to tighten up on its laws. But island economics expert Peter Everson said that multinationals wielded enormous power and were able to get the tax arrangements they wanted. He said, of the USA and UK: "All of their problems are written in the tax codes of the US and Britain. The reality is, if Washington wanted companies to pay more tax, it changes the law in Washington. These same guys who have all these foreign sales also contribute large amounts of campaign dollars. Likewise, David Cameron in Britain, it's precisely the same for UK companies. In the UK, they've made it easier for companies to pay less tax than it used to be. Bermuda's perspective is a PR one.  This is what Bermuda is. An international platform for foreign business. It doesn't cut tax or reduce tax. There are all sorts of different ways to fund governments and electors get to choose the way at the ballot box. Those who shout the loudest, it's always the problems at home. Its clear those shouting the loudest are the UK, the US and France, the countries with the biggest problems. Premier Craig Cannonier was right to call for a united front by the UK Overseas Territories to combat being branded tax havens. He was right in saying it's important that the smaller jurisdictions act in the same manner and should all speak out together and say its not our problem, its yours." Mr Everson was speaking after Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie told the UN it needed to take action to protect small island economies. Mr Perry said offshore jurisdictions were the victims of ongoing economic aggression by larger countries. He said offshore jurisdictions should be regulated by UN-led mechanisms to balance the needs of both sectors. And he warned that crippling offshore economies would cause tens of thousands of newly-empowered middle class citizens to slop back into poverty or to migrate to the developed world. Mr Everson said: "There should be a forum which one it is, I'm not qualified to say." The news came after it was revealed that Google last year only paid 2.6 percent tax in the US on sales worth $8.1 billion because it channeled most of its overseas profits through Bermuda, which has no corporate income tax. Previous revelations about Google's tax arrangements have led UK Parliamentarians to denounce them as immoral and led to demands that the island change its laws. Google said it follows tax rules in all the countries it operates in and pays little tax in the UK became its profits are not generated by UK employees. The UK arm of the firm, as well as other European operations, are designated as providers of marketing services to Google Ireland. But Google declares little profit in Ireland because it sends nearly all the cash it gets to the Bermuda affiliate, in the form of licence fees for use of Google intellectual property. The Westminster public accounts committee (PAC), however, has pointed out that the firm has advertised for sales people in the UK, despite Google's insistence that it conducts no sales in Britain. A PAC report last year accused Google of using contrived mechanisms to avoid tax and said the UK should close the loopholes. Tax avoidance was earlier this year a major topic at both the G20 and G8 and the pressure on offshore jurisdictions is likely to intensify as the western world continues to struggle with the financial problems of the global recession.

2013. September 27. Government House last night moved to clarify the impact of the move by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to consolidate passport production in Britain and away from embassies, high commissions and consulates around the world. The recent announcement sparked comment by politicians and residents, particularly the production of emergency passports. A Langton Hill spokesperson wrote the move is designed to produce British Citizen and British Overseas Territory passports to new and higher security standards at reasonable cost and that there is no reason to believe that third countries would be concerned about whether an Overseas Territory passport is printed in Durham, England or Hamilton, Bermuda. They are more likely to welcome the fact that it is being printed to the highest possible security specifications. These specifications are constantly being revised upwards. There are no plans to abolish British Overseas Territory passports. Discussions with the British Government are ongoing on emergency passports and the Governor, George Fergusson, very much hopes that an arrangement will be in place (within a year or two) which enables Bermudians to get travel documents quickly if they need them for emergency travel. But it is always a good idea to make sure that your passport, UK and/or Bermudian, is up to date. Information on applying for passports can be obtained from the Department of Immigration, who will continue to be responsible for the application process when the changes are implemented.

2013. September 7. The Ministry of Finance and the Cabinet Office announced today that the Government of Bermuda has written to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to request that the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters (Convention) include Bermuda. A Government spokesman said the request has been made to include Bermuda at the earliest possibly moment, following a decision made by Finance Minister The Hon E. T. Richards. The spokesman went on to explain that for developing countries, the benefit of signing the Multilateral Convention is that it allows them to sign one multilateral agreement and simultaneously create an exchange of information network with Bermuda, and many jurisdictions, rather than negotiating many individual tax agreements on a bilateral basis. It stated that currently there are 56 jurisdictions that are signatories to the Convention. Finance Minister Richards said: "We are delighted to have become signatories to the Multilateral Convention which will further establish our leadership as a best practice environment for financial transparency and efficiency."

2013. August 12. British passport applications must now be sent to Durham, UK, instead of Washington DC. Persons wanting to renew their passports must include the old passport with their application, Government House announced yesterday. Applicants were previously able to send a copy of their passport during hurricane season. The changes are intended to improve security and “consistency in decision making”, a spokesman said. “On August 12, 2013 the application process will be centralised and British citizens in Bermuda will need to submit their passport application to Her Majesty’s Passport Office in the UK,” the spokesman said. “There should be no change in processing times. British Overseas Territory Citizen passport holders should continue to submit their passport applications and renewals for BOTC passports through the Bermuda Department of Immigration.” British passports can be renewed up to nine months ahead of the expiry date with no loss of validity, meaning a new passport can be valid for ten years and nine months. Those applying for UK passports should send their documents by secure courier to: Her Majesty’s Passport Office OVS-D, Millburngate House, Millburngate, Durham  DH97 1PA, England, UK. 

2013. August 5. Bermuda is ready to sign off on a Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) agreement with the US Government, Finance Minister Bob Richards has announced. The agreement, initialed by Bermuda and the US, must next be endorsed by the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Mr Richards thanked the Bermuda FATCA Committee for laying the groundwork for the tax transparency pledge, known as the FATCA Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) Model 2. The Island's negotiating team was led by the Ministry of Finance's Wayne Brown, with Acting Treaty Advisor Dennis Simons. Bermuda's affirmation of the tax transparency agreement will help the US in curtailing tax evasion, according to Robert Stack of the US Treasury. The Minister also thanked US tax code expert Mike Murphy, HSBC's tax expert Lyndon Quinn, and Appleby managing partner and corporate lawyer Kiernan Bell, for traveling to Washington, DC to assist with negotiations. Also commended were Alan Granwell of DLA Piper (US); Senior Crown counsel Shakira Dill; James Berry and Charles Thresh of KPMG, and Paul Eldridge and Colm Homan of PWC.

2013. July 24. The number of requests for data which UK tax authority Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) made to Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories on possible tax evaders hit a record high last year, Tax-News reported. The publication says HMRC made 72 requests for financial data from territories such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and Jersey last year (ending December 31, 2012) regarding personal and business taxes, up 26 percent on the 57 in 2011 and 32 in 2010. The UK's Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories have come under increasing pressure from the UK Government in Whitehall to start cooperating more closely with HMRC in order to root out tax evaders. The news comes as HMRC finalizes new tax compliance information sharing arrangements with the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories among other measures that are set to catch tax evaders.” Under proposed tax compliance information sharing arrangements, HMRC will soon be able to obtain greater levels of information about bank accounts held by UK taxpayers in the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories automatically. The new rules will be closely modeled on the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act — US legislation which sets out new reporting requirements for foreign financial institutions with accounts held by US national residents overseas. And in May 2013, all Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories with significant financial centers announced a commitment to tackle tax evasion with the aim of setting a new standard of international tax transparency. Many of them have also agreed to sign up to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters — a data sharing initiative led by the OECD.

2013. June 22. Premier Craig Cannonier and other leaders of the UK’s Overseas Territories protested British Prime Minister David Cameron’s representation that they had “signed up” to an international tax information agreement, and were ignored, it has emerged. Mr Cameron told the House of Commons this week that the Overseas Territories had signed up to a tax information and transparency agreement, although no document was signed. Facing a grilling from members of the Opposition Progressive Labour Party at yesterday’s House of Assembly sitting, Mr Cannonier said that OT leaders had received advance notice of the Prime Minister’s messaging and had voiced their concerns. Mr Cannonier returned to Bermuda following meetings in London with Mr Cameron saying that Bermuda had not signed any agreements. A day later the British Prime Minister told the House of Commons that the Overseas Territories had “signed up to the multilateral convention on information exchange, agreed automatic exchange of information with the UK and action plans for beneficial ownership.” PLP MP Walton Brown kicked off the questions in the House of Assembly. “I can assure you that the Premier of Bermuda is not misleading you. My statements have been consistent and will remain consistent in the direction in which Bermuda wishes to go. I cannot speak for Prime Minister Cameron but it does concern me as well,” Mr Cannonier said. The Premier also revealed that a request for a private meeting with the Prime Minister was not honoured. But he rejected a suggestion that agreeing to go to the London talks meant he had ceded constitutional power to the UK. “Bermuda will maintain its right constitutionally to direct its future as far as tax evasion is concerned, as far as beneficial ownership is concerned. We will continue on that path.” Asked by MP Walton Brown if he would “convey his discontent” to the UK, the Premier said: “That displeasure was displayed by all of the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories. We will continue to massage and work this relationship. But it has been noted and I have also made sure that the Governor is aware of our discontent as well.” The OT leaders had received advanced notice that the Prime Minister planned to tell the world that they had signed up to the tax evasion agreements, Mr Cannonier explained under questioning from Glenn Blakeney. “We voiced our concerns prior to that statement being put out.” Mr Cannonier got a passing grade for his responses from Mr Brown. “He was very candid and I appreciate that,” he told The Royal Gazette. “The Premier has effectively distanced himself from the comments made by Cameron in the House of Commons.” He continued: “He would not say it explicitly, but clearly Prime Minister Cameron has misled the House in that regard.” But Mr Brown, an Independence advocate, remains concerned that Bermuda has now ceded some authority over its affairs back to the UK by going to London and allowing the Prime Minister to speak on its behalf in respect of financial and tax policy. “That to me is a manifestation of devolution of powers back to the UK.” Mr Brown said: “This trip was called by Cameron to grandstand and make it appear to the G8 that he had gotten his boys, so to speak, in line.” In his statement to the House Mr Cannonier stressed that Government “did not take a quantum leap in any commitment or undertaking given in London.” This is what the Premier told the House of Assembly yesterday. “We talked about Bermuda’s highly regarded and well regulated international insurance sector that provides G8 countries with catastrophe risk insurance and pays claims on a timely basis. We explained how Bermuda’s global insurance sector supports jobs in the United Kingdom and in the European Union. We differentiated Bermuda as an international financial centre with a comparative advantage in the delivery of insurance and reinsurance products and services to the global community. We stated that it was fundamentally incorrect and misleading to categories Bermuda as a tax haven. We were clear that Bermuda would protect its economic interests.  We asserted that Bermuda is already committed to fully to the fight against tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. We pointed to our compelling history of action in this regard.” Mr Cannonier and Mr Richards went to London at the request of the British Prime Minister in advance of the UK chaired G8 Summit this week. The Prime Minister’s priority was tax information sharing and transparency with respect to who really owns and benefits from companies. Exchange of information under the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance on Tax Matters was a key topic of conversation, the Premier said. “Bermuda has publicly stated its support to the review being undertaken to consider a possible new standard of government registries for beneficial ownership. However, Bermuda is well advanced in this practice and it is really for many of the G8 jurisdictions to catch up. My Government will work to improve access to information on beneficial ownership of companies. In doing so, however, we will not adopt measures that diminish our competitive capacity thereby leading to a loss of jobs in our economy. ”

2013. June 21. Government “did not take a quantum leap in any commitment or undertaking given in London,” Premier Craig Cannonier told the House of Assembly this morning. He and Finance Minister Bob Richards told the “real Bermuda story” in London. “We talked about Bermuda’s highly regarded and well regulated international insurance sector that provides G8 countries with catastrophe risk insurance and pays claims on a timely basis,” he said. “We explained how Bermuda’s global insurance sector supports jobs in the United Kingdom and in the European Union. We differentiated Bermuda as an international financial centre with a comparative advantage in the delivery of insurance and reinsurance products and services to the global community. We stated that it was fundamentally incorrect and misleading to categorise Bermuda as a tax haven. We were clear that Bermuda would protect its economic interests. We asserted that Bermuda is already committed fully to the fight against tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. We pointed to our compelling history of action in this regard.” Mr Cannonier and Mr Richards went to London at the request of the British Prime Minister in advance of the UK chaired G8 Summit this week. The Prime Minister’s main priority was tax information sharing and transparency with respect to who really owns and benefits from companies. Exchange of information under the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance on Tax Matters was a key topic of conversation, the Premier said. And he repeated assurances that Bermuda was a leader in providing access to beneficial ownership information. “Bermuda has publicly stated its support to the review being undertaken to consider a possible new standard of government registries for beneficial ownership. However, it bears repeating that Bermuda is well advanced in this practice and it is really for many of the G8 jurisdictions to catch up. My Government will work to improve access to information on beneficial ownership of companies. In doing so, however, we will not adopt measures that diminish our competitive capacity thereby leading to a loss of jobs in our economy. That would be foolhardy.”

2013. June 21. Whitehall does not consider Bermuda as a tax haven, according to Governor George Fergusson. In a statement issued yesterday, the Governor said that British Prime Minister David Cameron appreciated Premier Craig Cannonier’s visit to London last weekend. “The Premier’s visit to London last weekend was greatly appreciated by the Prime Minister, David Cameron,” Mr Fergusson said. “In his speech at Saturday’s G8 ‘Open for Growth’ event to heads of state, NGOs and others, Mr Cameron commended the leadership shown by the Overseas Territory and Crown Dependency Premiers and Chief Ministers in the area of transparency. It is clear that Bermuda is not a tax haven. It has a long record of transparency on beneficial ownership and banking, and tight and widely respected regulation of financial services. Its core business is insurance and reinsurance, which is conducted to the highest standards. And non-resident bank deposits are not a feature of its economy. As the British Government has focused its G8 Presidency on promoting transparency and reducing aggressive tax avoidance, not least to ensure that developing countries can develop their own tax base, Bermuda has been well placed to stay in the front echelon of economies on tax and transparency issues. The standards in this area have risen rapidly in recent years. Bermuda, like other countries, including Britain, has had to, and will continue to have to, bring in measures to stay at the front. But Bermuda is doing this from a position of strength. The commitments made, with others, last weekend have not involved Bermuda having to move radically: it was already a leader in the number of the bilateral Tax Transparency Agreements which it had negotiated. As the global practice for this switches to an international, multilateral agreement, Bermuda already has extensive experience of operating tax transparency agreements with other countries. It will be able to set out provisions to safeguard its interests. Bermuda has had a proud record of benefiting from a reputation for probity. It is clear that, even in this now fast-moving area, Bermuda will remain among those at the front.” The Governor’s statement echoes the position promoted by Mr Cannonier that Bermuda is a low tax jurisdiction but not a tax haven. Asked to define a tax haven by British standards, Deputy Governor David Arkley said that the UK adopted the definition crafted by the OECD (see below). That definition stresses “nil or nominal taxes”, protection of personal information and lack of transparency. Government is mulling the implications of signing onto the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance on Tax Matters, a global standard of tax information exchange intended to combat tax evasion. Bermuda’s position is that it agrees with it in principle and already abides by many of its provisions.

Definition of a Tax Haven. (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development):

June 20, 2013.  Bermuda and a handful of other British Overseas Territories have agreed to “commit to joining” the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance on Tax Matters and take part in a pilot tax information exchange initiative launched by the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, according to a press statement issued on PRnewswire. But none of that was apparent when Premier Craig Cannonier and Finance Minister Bob Richards updated the media on their meetings in London on Tuesday. Instead, the Premier stressed he had signed no deal on Bermuda’s behalf and that he had asked British Prime Minister David Cameron for more time to examine the details of the Convention. According to Mr Cannonier, the Bermuda delegation had stressed to Mr Cameron that Bermuda and the other OTs had not been given a “fair opportunity” to examine the multilateral agreement that he wanted signed. Asked if the UK had accepted the request for more time, the Premier said: “They have to.” However, the press release, issued by Citigate Dewe Rogerson, the UK PR agency for the British Virgin Islands, states: “We, the Political Leaders of the Overseas Territories of Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat and Turks and Caicos, warmly welcome our meeting with the Prime Minister today to discuss Tax, Trade and Transparency, where we had a very clear agreement and constructive exchange of views on the practical steps needed to tackle the global problem of tax evasion and how the UK and the Overseas Territories will continue to apply our high standards of regulation to address this. As part of our contribution to advancing this global agenda and to create a level playing field right across the world, different Overseas Territories at different times, and now unanimously, have reiterated and confirmed our agreement to the following three important steps:

And Mr Cameron reported as much in his remarks to the UK House of Commons on the G8 summit, which followed his meeting with the OTs. “The Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies have signed up to the multilateral convention on information exchange, agreed automatic exchange of information with the UK and action plans for beneficial ownership,” he said yesterday. Last night Mr Cannonier insisted the release did not contradict his update to Bermudians on Tuesday. “The statement that was released is a general statement that was being worked on by all members of the Overseas Territories last week. As we are at varying degrees of compliance, the statement speaks to our overarching agreement to comply with the Multilateral Convention Agreement initiative to exchange information and increase transparency, of which Bermuda has been leading the way. For example, in the statement, the second point speaks to the need for information regarding Beneficial Business Ownership and the exchange of information. It is no secret that Bermuda has signed almost 40 TIEAs and already has a registry of Beneficial Ownership for the companies doing business in Bermuda. Other countries are not as far along that far along in the process, but agree with it nonetheless. As OTs we agreed to each go away and speak to our own respective stakeholder groups to provide a more detailed account regarding our current status, which was clearly articulated at yesterday’s press conference. Bermuda’s position remains the same — we agree with the Multilateral Convention Agreement in principle, as do the other OTs, but we haven’t signed the agreement. As to your question regarding why wasn’t the local media sent the release, I can’t speak to that as I don’t know which country sent the release out.”

June 19, 2013. Massive injustices exposed in UK's tax system compared to Bermuda's. From a prominent Bermudian writer. "Many Bermudians applaud Apple, Google, Starbucks, Yahoo, etc in UK for not paying more taxes there than they have to. Good for them for not acting like sheep to injustices. Instead of picking on Bermuda and other British Overseas Territories for not applying the multinational corporate taxes they want to see imposed, the UK government should instead look into and correct deliberate and massive tax avoidance, tax evasion and tax haven ploys that severely affect most UK taxpayers and were perpetrated not by multi-national companies but specifically by Houses of Parliament in both Westminster and Holyrood (Scotland). So many people in the UK who own modest three bedroom homes market valued at under £200,000 have to pay more in Council Tax (real estate tax) in Band E to their local authorities than the Queen does for her £850 million Band H Buckingham Palace. It's not the Queen's problem, it's an injustice legislated by British UK MPs and MSPs respectively all over the UK. In Scotland, MSPs legislated the Local Government Finance Act 1992 which gave local authorities responsibility to administer and fix council taxes. But they have not done so fairly. They have not used Buckingham Palace as a national yardstick. They should be asking all other UK homeowners to pay their real estate taxes at an appropriate fraction of what Buckingham Palace pays. It should have been a Parliamentary responsibility to enact a fair-to-all tax based on national comparisons. Instead, with cynical disregard for their voters, UK parliaments allowed each local authority to apply its own rates of council taxes as flagrant human rights wrongs for the inequities they make people suffer. Is it right and proper that while the Queen pays only £1400 or so (say BD$2,000) a year, Bermuda as a British Overseas Territory should charge some homeowners in the region of $25,000 a year in real estate tax for a home not worth anywhere near as much as Buckingham Palace? No, it's not right, it's a massive wrong. It is good to hear that American, Canadian and other media will be mentioning these horrible inequities during and after the G8 conference, as examples of tax evasion, tax avoidance and tax haven practices the UK should have eradicated long ago but have not. Until the UK rights its flagrant tax avoidance, tax evasion and downright tax-haven-like Council-Tax exemptions for all Band H homeowners and set the Bands instead from A-Z with Buckingham Palace as the Z, with its Parliaments setting an example, it is outrageous for the UK to expect tiny but responsible international business centers like Bermuda (not a tax haven) to comply."

These figures confirm the stark comparison in British UK and Bermudian annual real estate taxes, excluding water and waste water charges:

June 19, 2013. Bermuda and other Overseas Territories are being used as the scapegoats for policy failures of larger countries, but more must be done to educate Europe about the Island’s business model. So said Finance Minister Bob Richards and Premier Craig Cannonier as they updated the media yesterday on their meetings with British Prime Minister David Cameron. Mr Cannonier stressed that no agreements were signed in London and his Government will not do anything to jeopardize Bermuda’s financial model or previous agreements the Island has signed. Mr Richards said there was a “groundswell” of opinion against offshore financial centres in London driven by a number of factors. “First of all the US is coming out of a recession, Europe and the UK are not. Unemployment remains very high in the UK. Budget deficits are ballooning. So it's a very difficult and negative environment over there. The Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies were to some extent being used as scapegoats and distractions for domestic policy failures. In addition, there was a corps of non-Governmental organizations who had latched on to this notion that either multinational organizations or so-called tax havens are responsible for these poor countries not having any money. I was very surprised at the virulence of that sentiment that exists over there right now. Our message is to a significant extent being overwhelmed by that noise. Therefore we have to up our game.” Mr Richards said that Bermuda had been more successful with its public relations in the US than in the UK. “We just kind of assumed that because we have this relationship with Britain and we have these representatives in our midst at all times at a most senior level that somehow there’s an understanding over there of what Bermuda is all about. And I was surprised and dismayed to find out that that was not true. They don’t understand what Bermuda is all about. They continue to lump us in with other jurisdictions that are engaged in offshore banking that have secrecy laws, that are engaged in money laundering. These are things that Bermuda is not involved in.” The Bermuda delegation had stressed to Mr Cameron that Bermuda and the other OTs had not been given a “fair opportunity” to examine the multilateral agreement that he wanted signed. “It is important that you understand that Bermuda has not signed any agreement,” the Premier said. “We need to be responsible, and in being responsible we must look at every ‘T’ and make sure that it is crossed and every ‘I’ to make sure it is dotted. Because we do not want to put in jeopardy the financial model we have in Bermuda.” The Premier said "Bermuda had no problem with sharing tax information and providing information about beneficial ownership of companies domiciled here, and had been doing so for many years. When it comes to the highest regulations, Bermuda has always been [among] the forerunners." But Mr Cannonier stressed that Bermuda’s model was not banking, but insurance. “It is the businesses that are domiciled here that pay out in billions of dollars to ensure that many of the places like the UK and the United States can get back up running again and can create jobs and sustain jobs and put them back in the positions they were in before these things (catastrophes) happen. There is a great misunderstanding about what it is that we do. So we will continue to ensure that we get the message out there.” No other territories had signed the multilateral agreement, he said. Asked if the UK Government accepted Bermuda’s request for more time, he said: “They have to.” But the Premier stressed that a signing ceremony had never been on the agenda. “Sovereign nations like the United States and Canada are still coming to terms with this global agreement, so it’s going to be a while before we all come to a consensus as to exactly the direction we want to go in. They also are looking at this very closely and they are being responsible as well. So as we move toward tightening up the net of illegal activity I’m sure that some agreements will be found, but right now we are not at that position.” Asked about the efforts of companies like Google to avoid paying millions of dollars in taxes using vehicles domiciled here and in other countries, Mr Cannonier said Ireland’s double tax treaty was a key factor in enabling Google’s tax avoidance. “Bermuda is down the chain. So if you want to avoid this thing happening, the UK, the G8 nations really need to go to Ireland and the likes and address them first.” Mr Cannonier added that misrepresentation of Bermuda in UK media stories will end with better public relations.

June 18, 2013. Premier Craig Cannonier is to report on Bermuda’s attendance at the London tax evasion summit this afternoon. Mr Cannonier was joined by Finance Minister Bob Richards and technical officers for the meetings with British Primer Minister David Cameron and political leaders of other British colonies. Mr Cameron invited senior ministers of ten Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to meet with him last week ahead of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland which begins today. The British Prime Minister has been urging the colonies to commit to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance on Tax Matters — a global standard on exchange of information for tax purposes. Mr Cannonier said he viewed the meetings in London as an opportunity to state Bermuda’s case that the Island is not a “tax haven” and is well regulated. But there has been some confusion in the international media about Bermuda’s attitude towards the Convention. Mr Cannonier returned to the Island last night and is scheduled to speak to the media this afternoon.

June 13, 2013. Bermuda supports an international agreement aimed at tackling tax evasion “in principle”, Premier Craig Cannonier said yesterday. “Bermuda welcomes the initiative to conclude a Multilateral Convention Agreement in principle and supports the principles of transparency and exchange of information that the Convention embodies,” the Premier said in a statement. “However, legitimate reservations exist that must be addressed relating to costs, security of data, treaty duplication prior to signing the document. Bermuda is currently in talks with HM Treasury, in full anticipation that the issues will be ironed out as quickly as possible.” Mr Cannonier was commenting after speaking to international media this week on Bermuda’s strategy relating to international tax and regulatory policy. The headline in the Guardian yesterday said: “Bermuda refuses to sign up to Cameron's tax evasion deal” and “David Cameron's G8 agenda to close down cross-border tax evasion dealt blow by Bermuda prime minister Craig Cannonier”. Mr Cannonier said in his statement yesterday: “Bermuda has always been a reputable and internationally responsible jurisdiction. Our main industry is Reinsurance and Insurance and our consumption tax regime dates back to the 1800s, a century before Bermuda became an international financial centre. “For example, 60% to 65% of all our financial activity in Bermuda is in insurance assets covering risks with trading partners, such as in the UK, where Bermuda has a direct and significant role in its economy, producing as many as 100,000 jobs. Bermuda also writes 27% of all European reinsurance, including 40% of all Lloyds Reinsurance.” Premier Cannonier continued: “Originally Bermuda focused its Tax Treaty strategy around members of the G8, G20, EU, and OECD countries and as a result Bermuda has signed 39 Tax Information Exchange Agreements. To date, Bermuda has signed Tax Agreements with 90% of the G20, with the exception of two countries (the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Russian Federation). Bermuda has tax agreements with 52% of EU member states but we have concluded negotiations with many more EU members. Bermuda also has tax agreements with 76% of OECD member states. We look forward to our discussions with Prime Minister Cameron on these matters.” Earlier Reuters reported the Premier said in an interview that Bermuda and Britain's other overseas territories will not sign up to an international convention aimed at tackling tax evasion ahead of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland next week. But Bermuda could tighten rules so that Bermuda-registered subsidiaries needed to have more economic substance on the Island to enjoy its tax benefits, he told Reuters in the interview yesterday. And the Guardian newspaper reported Mr Cannonier said the territories were ready to agree that wider sharing of information with international tax authorities was required in principle, but that Mr Cameron's aim of having them all commit to signing the convention at the weekend was unlikely to be achieved. A spokesman for the Cayman Islands government said it had agreed on Friday to commit to an intention to sign the convention. No 10 said it expected most of the overseas territories and crown dependencies will sign up. But the group Cayman Finance said the devil was in the detail and that they “are not prepared to build a tax authority or a collection agency or incur huge costs to collect other people’s taxes”. Premier Cannonier told Reuters the Prime Minister’s aim of having the territories all commit to signing the convention at the weekend was unlikely. "My understanding is that we are not here to sign something, but simply to agree that everyone needs to get on par," he told Reuters in the telephone interview. British Prime Minister David Cameron has invited the mainly Caribbean territories to London ahead of hosting the annual gathering of the G8 group of leading economies, at which he has put tax avoidance and evasion high on the agenda. Though they share Britain's monarch as head of state, the UK government's writ doesn't run in the self-governing territories, so Cameron must rely on persuasion to secure an agreement. A deal could give Cameron a coup against tax campaigners who question Britain's commitment to the issue, given the prominent role played by UK territories in facilitating tax evasion, avoidance and the hiding of stolen assets, Reuters reported. Mr Cannonier said the territories had held conference calls ahead of their meeting with UK ministers in London this week and none had expressed a willingness to commit to signing the convention when they gather with Cameron at Downing Street on Saturday. Mr Cannonier said Bermuda already met most of the standards in the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, including having a register of beneficial owners of companies that other tax authorities can check. However, he said the convention, drafted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a body of mainly rich nations, had potentially damaging elements for Bermuda. "There's some clauses in there that we need to look at, that may need to be adjusted, and ... our Finance Ministry is going over it with a fine-tooth comb," he said. In May, the territories, which also include the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands, agreed to share taxpayer information with the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, but the convention will include many more countries and more information. “Bermuda has been accused of facilitating tax avoidance by large companies,” the Reuters report said. “Multinationals typically park intellectual property (IP) in letter-box companies on the island. These then charge fat fees for the use of the IP to affiliates in countries where the groups have big sales, thereby channelling profits to the island, which charges no corporate income taxes. Premier Cannonier said it was unfair to blame Bermuda for this since it was ‘only one link in the chain’ but added the country could tighten rules so that Bermuda-registered subsidiaries needed to have more economic substance on the Island to enjoy its tax benefits.”

May 22, 2013. Premier Craig Cannonier responded to British warnings to its overseas territories on tax avoidance and tax transparency. “Prime Minister (David) Cameron is keen to underscore Britain's position on fighting tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance through tax information exchange and access to information on beneficial ownership of companies. Bermuda has no qualms with this. We are already there and we continue to keep abreast of developing standards. The combined work of the Ministry of Finance and the Bermuda Monetary Authority over several decades now has put Bermuda among the leading countries in relation to tax information exchange and KYC or "know your customer", which includes having access to information on beneficial ownership companies. As you know, Bermuda for decades has required companies seeking to incorporate in Bermuda to file beneficial ownership information with the Bermuda Monetary Authority; many of our peer jurisdictions have not caught up in this area. Further, we have recently passed legislation to license all Corporate Service Providers (CSPs) in Bermuda and bring them under the umbrella of the Proceeds of Crime Act that imposes the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) standard on beneficial ownership. Bermuda is recognised internationally for its integrity and transparency as a centre for legitimate international business. Our job now is to grow the economy again, create jobs and new wealth for Bermudians. That is our priority.” Mr Cameron wrote to the Island this week, along with the rest of Britain’s Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies: “This is the critical moment to get our own houses in order.” The letter, which didn’t specifically single out by name any of the 10 territories to which it was addressed, emphasized Mr Cameron’s respect for their right to be “lower tax jurisdictions." Britain is under pressure on the issue as it hosts the G8 Summit on June 15.

May 21, 2013.  Bermuda and other British territories have come under pressure from UK Prime Minister David Cameron to “take the lead” on tax information exchange and beneficial ownership. Mr Cameron wrote yesterday to the Island, along with the rest of Britain’s Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies such as Guernsey and the Isle of Man. The call for continued partnership with the UK came just weeks before Britain hosts the G8 Summit on June 15. With tax avoidance a priority for the gathering, Mr Cameron wrote, “this is the critical moment to get our own houses in order.” Last month’s visit by UK Minister for the Overseas Territories Mark Simmons saw Cabinet vow that Bermuda would “lead jurisdictions” in transparency, and enforcing beneficial ownership regulations. Mr Cameron’s letter underscored the point, however — especially on the latter. Noting that some jurisdictions had committed to producing action plans on beneficial ownership, the Prime Minister added: “I hope those of you who have yet to can do so as quickly as possible”. The letter, which didn’t specifically single out by name any of the 10 territories to which it was addressed, emphasized Mr Cameron’s respect for their right to be “lower tax jurisdictions.” Bermuda has already pledged to provide the UK authorities with tax information automatically. “There is a critical mass building,” Mr Cameron wrote, saying Britain aimed to set “a global standard in tax transparency.”

May 3, 2013. Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and other British overseas territories will now be required to work with the UK and other European countries fight tax evasion. With governments in most advanced economies short of tax revenue after the financial crisis, pressure has been growing on small territories with big banking sectors to lift bank secrecy and do more to combat tax dodging and money laundering. Now British overseas territories such as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands — which are effectively colonies with some self-government — will have to automatically provide details the ownership of bank accounts, and about how they are used, British finance minister George Osborne said yesterday. "This represents a significant step forward in tackling illicit finance and sets the global standard in the fight against tax evasion," Mr Osborne said. The other territories affected by the deal are the Caribbean islands of Anguilla, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos. The information will be shared by Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, which agreed in June last year to work together to combat tax evasion. The Isle of Man also will be subject to the deal, but two other major offshore centres, Jersey and Guernsey, have not yet agreed to share information with countries other than Britain. The United States has been in a lengthy dispute with Switzerland over the latter's bank secrecy rules, while the European Union also has turned up pressure on two of its smaller members, Austria and Luxembourg. Austria in turn has accused Britain and the United States of shielding their own tax havens. Britain has made fighting tax evasion a priority while it chairs the G8 group of advanced economies this year, and in two weeks it will host a meeting of finance ministers from the bloc. However, Britain also faces problems of its own in being certain that companies comply with its tax laws. A recent Reuters investigation highlighted inconsistencies in the way Google portrays its activities in Britain, prompting lawmakers to demand the company's executives and auditors appear before them.

April 27, 2013. United Kingdom Overseas Territories Minister Mark Simmonds left Bermuda yesterday with a long list of areas of UK-Bermuda cooperation to develop but helping Bermuda out of the Uighur dilemma is not on the agenda. “That is a matter for the Bermuda Government. It is not a matter for the United Kingdom Government,” said Mr Simmonds when asked whether the Uighurs’ situation was any closer to resolution. I have had discussions to understand the complexity of some of these issues but it is a matter for the Bermuda Government.” Ablikim Turahun, Khalil Mamut, Abdulla Abdulqadir and Salahidin Andulahad were part of a consignment of 17 Muslims from western China who were released by US authorities after being held unlawfully in Guant?amo Bay, Cuba as “enemy combatants”. But the four were left stateless after they were brought to the Island under a deal arranged by then-Premier Dr Ewart Brown Lawyer Richard Horseman, who has been representing the four men since their arrival on the Island, was unsurprised by the stance. “That’s been the consistent position adopted by the UK Government — that it’s Bermuda’s problem, since they were brought here without consultation. Hopefully Britain will step in at some juncture to help the men.” Last month, Mr Horseman reported that Government would be holding talks with the US and the UK authorities. But it now appears that the UK, for the moment at least, is not minded to assist the Bermuda Government out of its dilemma. Granting the men status would require a change in the law and, says Mr Horseman, there is likely little appetite for that among the Island’s parliamentarians. Nor can they be granted refugee status because the Refugee Convention does not apply to Bermuda. The UK has always insisted that the men have no entitlement to British citizenship or British Overseas Territories citizenship, and are not eligible to apply for British passports. Mr Simmonds told the media that his visit had been productive and positive. “My primary function for being here is to build on the positive and warm relationship that Bermuda and the UK already have. To understand more about the opportunities and challenges that exist in Bermuda and to discuss with Ministers some of the opportunities that Bermuda and the UK have in working more closely together where appropriate and where it is of benefit to Bermuda. Areas of cooperation include trade, health, education and fighting gang crime."

April 25, 2013. Bermuda will provide United Kingdom authorities with information to help authorities there fight tax evasion and fraud, Bermuda’s Cabinet Office announced. The battle is a ‘global priority’, according to the Premier’s office. In support of this cause, it stated Bermuda has entered into “automatic exchange of information agreements” with the United Kingdom. The announcement was made on the heels of the arrival of the British Government Minister in charge of overseas territories, Mark Simmonds. “Tackling tax evasion and fraud is a global priority which is necessary to protect the integrity of public revenues, the confidence of taxpayers in the fairness and effectiveness of their tax systems and ultimately public confidence in open global capital markets,” it stated. Further action is needed to prevent tax evasion and to clamp down on it, despite the development of international standards and a peer review process, the Cabinet Office explained. “With this in mind, the next critical steps, aided by developments in technology, is to move to automatic exchange of tax information. The action taken by the United States under its Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) provides a unique opportunity to develop a new global standard in the near future and from that, to develop a system of multilateral automatic information exchange. Bermuda embraces the move, and has committed to entering into automatic exchange of information agreements with the United Kingdom to the same timetable as the agreements which we are currently finalizing with the United States.” Additionally, Bermuda has committed to move forward towards “eliminating any remaining hiding places” stating the island will improve the availability of information on beneficial ownership. "The work of the Global Forum and the Financial Action Task Force has led to significant improvements but gaps still remain in many jurisdictions. Bermuda is determined to move forward with this agenda and will commit to review the effectiveness of our legal and enforcement framework and to produce an action plan, aimed at ensuring that we lead jurisdictions in respect of information and enforcement of rules on beneficial ownership. We look forward to working in close cooperation with the United Kingdom on these commitments and urge rapid development of new global standards in these areas.

April 25, 2013. The UK’s Minister for Overseas Territories was on the Island for two days of meetings with officials. Mark Simmonds met Premier Craig Cannonier, Opposition Leader Marc Bean and other senior politicians and officials while here. The MP’s first fact-finding mission here also included talks with police to see how the Island is tackling gang crime, and he learnt more about international business and tourism on the Island. Mr Simmonds, who met with Mr Cannonier in London earlier this year, said: “I am looking forward to my visit to Bermuda this week. As my first visit, this will be an important opportunity to re-emphasize the strength of the UK’s relationship with the largest and most prosperous overseas territory. My visit comes at an important time for Bermuda, and the Overseas Territories as whole, and I look forward to discussing how we can take forward the government’s commitment to delivering the ambitious partnership agenda set out in last year’s White Paper.” Mr Simmonds will also meet members of Bermuda’s Youth Parliament to discuss the role of the UK in representing the Overseas Territories interests around the world.

February 3, 2013. Premier Cannonier takes over UK Overseas Territories Association presidency.  Bermuda has for the first time been elected to lead the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA) in the UK. During a meeting on Thursday, Bermuda, through representative Kimberly Durrant, was elected to the role of Chairman in the organization which was created to promote cooperation among the overseas territories. In accordance with the UKOTA Constitution Premier Craig Cannonier will assume the position as President of the Political Council. The latter is the highest body of the Association which consists of Leaders or Representatives of each Member Government. Revealing the news in a statement yesterday, the Premier said: “I am delighted with the regard in which Bermuda is held within UKOTA. There are many areas of mutual interest in which we can share knowledge and experience to our collective benefit. I look forward to my tenure as President of the Political Council and in particular how it seeks to shape the nature of engagement with the United Kingdom Government in matters of importance to the OTs.” Ms Durrant, the Director of the Island’s London Office, said the organization has always taken pride in giving all participating nation equal representation, regardless of size. “I am honored to have been elected to the position of Chairman and to have gained the respect and confidence of my fellow colleagues and Governments of the Overseas Territories,” she said.

December 24, 2012.  UK Overseas Territories Minister Mark Simmonds has congratulated Craig Cannonier for his appointment as Premier in the wake of last week’s general election. “I welcome the appointment of Premier Craig Cannonier, JP, MP, leader of One Bermuda Alliance. Bermuda is the oldest and most populous Overseas Territory with strong constitutional connections to the UK, going back 400 years,” Mr Simmonds said in a statement on Friday. “When I spoke to Premier Cannonier today (20 December) to congratulate him, I stressed that I look forward to working with the Premier and his Government on a wide range of issues highlighted in the UK’s White Paper on the Overseas Territories. I would also like to thank former Premier and Finance Minister Paula Cox MP for the valuable contribution she made to Bermuda politics during her term in office, both domestically and internationally. I wish her every success for the future.” The UK’s White Paper on the Overseas Territories was released in June this year. It sets out three broad goals — to deepen engagement between the Territories and the UK, to help the Territories “strengthen good governance, financial management and economic planning” and “to improve the quality and range of support to the Territories”, according to former Overseas Territories Minister Henry Bellingham.

August 15, 2012.  Premier Paula Cox gave a mild rebuke last night to a British Member of Parliament who suggested if Bermuda wants the UK to keep providing its defence, it should change its tax policies to stop corporations using the Island to avoid UK taxes. Labour MP John Mann, a member of the UK House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, made the comment while talking about Google’s use of a Bermuda-based subsidiary to reduce its tax bill. Ms Cox, who is also the Finance Minister, responded that Bermuda had no wish to change its tax rules and told the opposition lawmaker that Bermuda “pays all its own bills”, including the one for Bermuda’s Governor, the UK’s top representative on the Island. The Independent newspaper reported that Google paid £6 million in UK taxes last year on turnover of ?395 million. The newspaper added that the tech giant operates a scheme under which its Irish subsidiary employs Google UK as an agent, meaning the proceeds of sales made in the UK end up in Ireland. A commission of around 10 percent is then paid back to Google UK. That fee is taxable once costs have been deducted. Google Ireland then pays much of the money it makes to the internet giant’s Bermudian entity as a licensing fee, ensuring that a large portion of its turnover ends up on the Island, where the corporate tax rate is zero. The process is entirely legal. “This sort of scheme is running, meanwhile we are providing a legal base and defence for Bermuda because it is a British dependency,” Mr Mann told The Independent. Firstly, we should be ensuring first of all that this is not possible across the EU. There is no point being in if you can tax dodge. Secondly, if Bermuda or any other British dependency wants our help with defence, then it should stop operating this sort of tax policy. We are paying twice because we are paying for Bermuda.” Mr Mann suggested the Bermuda Government should take a stronger stance on tax avoidance schemes which “hit British tax receipts”. The MP for Bassetlaw did not respond to The Royal Gazette's requests for further explanation of his remarks by press time yesterday. Last night Premier Cox responded: “We have no intention of changing our centuries-old tax laws which continue to serve the needs of our people. I would also take this opportunity to remind Mr Mann that Bermuda pays all of its own bills, including the bill for Bermuda’s Governor.” She added that Bermuda was an “international leader in tax transparency” and the vice-chair of the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. “The Bermuda Government will continue to stand strong for Bermudians and we will continue to work to attract new business to our shores that provide opportunities for our people,” Ms Cox added. “Bermuda is a global financial centre that offers speed to market, intellectual capital and an stable environment from which to operate a global business. Since the beginning of international business in Bermuda this has been our main drawing card.” Mr Mann is determined to shine the light on the methods used by Google to minimize its tax burden. He said the Treasury Select Committee may call on Google bosses to appear before it, to address the tax avoidance concerns. He described the company’s tax practices as “entirely improper and immoral. I think it would be highly appropriate to pull a Google executive in front of the committee to justify their failure to pay proper taxes, we would be looking at covering the issue in this parliamentary session, so before Easter, realistically,” he told The Independent. “Whether it is illegal or immoral, the British taxpayer loses out. Google is one of the big ones but there are others.” Google has no physical presence in Bermuda. However, a Bloomberg news report in 2010 highlighted company filings that stated Google Ireland Holdings had its “effective centre of management” on the Island. The report added that “this Bermuda-managed entity is owned by a pair of Google subsidiaries that list as their directors two attorneys and a manager at Conyers Dill & Pearman, a Hamilton, Bermuda law firm.” Many international companies use “transfer pricing” to attribute profits to subsidiaries in low-tax jurisdictions. This often involves transferring the ownership of intellectual property to the subsidiary. Other parts of the organization must then pay royalties on sales to the subsidiary through licensing agreements. The practice is particularly commonplace among technology and pharmaceutical companies. A Google spokesman told The Independent: “We make a substantial contribution to the UK economy through local, payroll and corporate taxes. We also employ over 1,000 people, help hundreds of thousands of businesses to grow online and invest millions supporting new tech businesses in East London. We comply with all the tax rules in the UK.”

July 13, 2012.  The British Government is continuing to work with Bermuda and the Sargasso Sea Alliance in an effort to create a high seas marine reserve. Henry Bellingham of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told the House of Commons that members of the Sargasso Sea Alliance have met with officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department of Transport to discuss the project. “As a result of this meeting, officials of the Department for Transport and its Maritime and Coastguard Agency are engaged in discussions with the Sargasso Sea Alliance with a view to identifying a measure or measures which would be appropriate to take forward in the International Maritime Organization. In addition, the Government supports the work of the OSPAR Commission, under which seven Marine Protected Areas in areas beyond national jurisdiction have been identified, in assisting the Alliance with its proposals. The Government of Bermuda supports the proposal to provide appropriate protection for the Sargasso Sea. The British Government, the Sargasso Sea Alliance and the Government of Bermuda are working together to this end through the appropriate forums.” He further acknowledged that the current system in place for identify marine protected areas on the high seas is “piecemeal, and that the British Government is committed to establish a new Implementing Agreement to address the issue. The Sargasso Sea is more than 1,000km wide and 3,200km long and is bordered by four separate ocean currents; the Gulf Stream, the North Atlantic Current, the Canary Current and the North Atlantic Equatorial Current. The region is also rich with marine life, and is considered a crucial spawning area for species including eel, dolphin fish and marlin.

May 18, 2012. Britain will not urge Bermuda to go Independent because that would be patronizing, according to outgoing Governor Sir Richard Gozney. And in one of his final interviews before ending his diplomatic career, the Governor warned Bermuda not to get complacent about the economy. The wide ranging discussion had its lighter moments. Sir Richard admitted, almost, that he wasn’t exactly fond of wearing the ceremonial garb of a colonial Governor. “You feel you’re going to take off in a strong wind,” he said when asked what it was like wearing a feathered hat. His predecessor, Sir John Vereker, had discussed with then Premier Ewart Brown, the possibility of ditching the uniform as he ended his tenure. But Dr Brown had gone to his Cabinet and insisted it should be worn. “I’m a servant of Bermuda. Bermuda’s paying not only my salary and for this house and I’ll go along,” Sir Richard said. Asked if he liked wearing the uniform, he said: “‘Like’s’ quite a strong word, isn’t it? I’m content wearing that uniform if Bermuda wants me to wear it.” Sir John took his plumed hat and ceremonial uniform with him when he left. Sir Richard was issued a new one. He agreed that being a Governor of one of the world’s last remaining colonies felt a bit odd. “It’s bound to. In the 21st Century. No one’s holding onto bits of Overseas Territories because they want to. At least I hope they aren’t in this day and age. But we, unlike one or two other European countries, are not going to shed them if they don’t want to leave the fold. The Portuguese shoved theirs off when the dictator Salazar died in the mid-seventies and poor Mozambique, poor Angola and poor East Timor went into civil war — each of them as a result. So we will say, those territories are small and for reasons of small size and for whatever other reasons, if and for as long as they want to retain the British link then we will do our bit to maintain it. It costs next to nothing. And it’s a legacy of history. It’s a responsibility of history and we accept it. We’ll do it wholeheartedly. We won’t be curmudgeonly or graceless about it.” He repeated Whitehall’s long held policy to support the wishes of Bermudians should a majority signal clearly that they want to became a sovereign nation. “But we’re not going to force that issue either way. Because we don’t think that’s a grown up way of dealing with a very grown up situation,” he said. “Bermuda is a fully grown up country which can decide for itself how it wants that future to be. And so, in the meantime — of course, it’s an unusual position to have an overseas territory or colony. But we accept that we will do our small part in making those small territories run for as long as people want the status quo to continue.” He said self determination “can include a determination to keep yourself in the fold of a bigger country — or linked to a bigger country.” Asked why Britain does not simply tell Bermuda that it is old enough to take the sovereignty option, he said: “Because that would be patronizing. “We won’t patronize Bermuda. We’ll say ‘Bermuda, you’re grown up. You take that decision’. All we’ll ask is if you decide to go independent, we’ll need an unambiguous signal that that is the case.” The arrival of the four Uighurs — the former Guantanamo detainees who were brought to Bermuda by former Premier Ewart Brown without consulting Britain or his Cabinet — was the most challenging aspect of his tenure as Governor, he said. “It made me scratch my head more than other things,” he said. “Because of that double effect of breaching the Constitution and landing four men here who can’t be given travel documents to go elsewhere.” Britain and the US are still in talks over the fate of the Uighurs, he said. Turning to his most enjoyable experience he said: “It’s hard to beat non-mariners. It is quite a magic afternoon.” On his final message to Bermuda, he said: “I wish Bermuda every success in finding the next pot of gold. Whether it’s going to be fish farming — the Chinese in those fancy restaurants in Shanghai and Hong Kong would pay ridiculous sums of money for what they regard as really special fish — I’m sure those fish would grow in netted tanks out on the reefs somewhere. Or whether it’s the mineralisation of the sea bed around here. There’s no oil but people have been down and found some quite interesting mineralisation. Financial services are not growing but they’re not shrinking much. And tourism is strongly cyclical but may be coming back a bit. So, I’m not saying that people need to find the next crock of gold within the next year or two years. But the fragility and vulnerability of small countries is essentially based on just a couple of industries and that’s the case in Bermuda. So one’s always on the look out for the next serious piece of diversification.” Asked if he agreed with those who feel that the economy may be on a permanent decline, he said he did not think that was likely “as long as people are not complacent. Economies have tired because of complacency. That didn’t hack it in the 19th century, the 20th century and it certainly won’t work in the 21st century. Because someone’s going to come up and snap your ankles and take whatever business away from you. Because there are a lot of countries which are far more worldly than they used to be and most of the markets — whether they are for tourism or financial services, almost everything else other than oil and gas in the ground — are mobile. So as long as people here, as in other such well-to-do small countries, don’t rest on their laurels I see no reason why Bermuda shouldn’t thrive.” Richard Gozney leaves for his homeland on Sunday. The new Governor, George Fergusson, is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday.

February 1, 2012. Then Bermuda Premier Paula Cox pushed for Bermuda to have direct formal links with the European Union through membership in the Overseas Countries and Territories Association. The OCTA brings together about two dozen territories with links to the United Kingdom, Holland, France and Denmark and is governed by EU regulations known as Overseas Association Decisions. Bermuda’s inclusion could come as early as July when the current OAD is updated. The overall purpose of the current association is to promote OCTs’ economic and social development and to develop economic relations between the OTCs and the EU. Members pay a fee to be included and are bound by basic principles such as democracy and human rights. In 2001, Bermuda turned down an invitation to be included in the arrangement because its original purpose was to give the territories access to developmental aid, according to a press release issued by Government yesterday. But the Association has now “furthered its remit” and is acknowledged as a means for the OCTs to “heighten their presence within the EU.” Premier Cox raised the issue of Bermuda’s membership in Brussels last week at a meeting between the EU and the OCTs. “I consider that deepening our engagement with the European Union was of national strategic advantage. There is also the potential for collateral benefits by a closer collaboration, including the possibility of technical and functional assistance in fostering environmental initiatives and support of sustainable development projects. I am pleased that Bermuda was able to participate in the constructive dialogue and this is consistent with furthering Bermuda’s national agenda.” Bermuda had been invited to the tenth OCT-EU Forum as an observer. And the Premier’s overture comes in time for a review of the OAD which is scheduled for July this year. “As the revised OAD’s submission to the EU Council is in July 2012, the inclusion of Bermuda would award us the opportunity for increased visibility within the EU,” states the Government release. “Through the London Office, consistent representation within OCTA will be essential to maintaining constant dialogue with the EU and uphold Bermuda’s interest and presence within Europe.” According to the press release, the OCTs pressed the European Commission to “support the awareness of OCTs within European institutions on issues such as Environment and Climate Change; Trade; Rights of OCT Citizens; Partnership with the EU; Territorial Strategies for Innovation and Regional Projects and Equal Treatment for all OCTs.” Kimberley Durrant, office manager of Bermuda’s London office said yesterday that the OCTA planned to open an office in Brussels and all OCTA members will have access to its resources “and that of the EU.”

January 2012. British MP Andrew Rosindell called for Bermuda and other overseas territories to be given representation in the UK House of Commons. In a submission to the UK Parliament’s Backbench Business Committee, Mr. Rosindell said that since the UK makes decisions that can directly effect territories such as Bermuda, the territories should be able to have their own voices heard. Mr Rosindell, the chairman of the British Overseas Territories All Party Parliamentary Group, said: “We give our 21 territories nothing. All they have is an informal all-party group, of which I am proud to be chairman. We have a democratic hole, with hundreds of thousands of people for whom we make laws, whom we ultimately govern and on whose behalf we can declare war, make foreign policy and sign international treaties. We have substantial control over their domestic affairs. Those territories that have sterling are bound by much of our own economic policy. In a range of areas, although the Crown dependencies and Overseas Territories are not part of the UK they are substantially influenced and ultimately governed by this Parliament, so it is wrong for them to have no voice at all.” The Conservative Party MP said other nations, including Australia, Denmark, France and the Netherlands all have external territories, but those territories have representatives elected to external territory committees. He said he hoped issues related to the overseas territories would be debated this year, noting that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands. “Perhaps it is an appropriate time to establish the principle that at the very least the UK Parliament gives recognition to our Territories and Dependencies, and that we actually want to debate subjects that affect them, so that is why I have put in for this debate,” he said. “I have been an MP for 11 years and I do not think there has been an actual debate on territories and dependencies, except when the British Overseas Territories Bill was introduced by the previous Government in 2001-02. There needs to be a similar kind of annual debate such as we have on Scotland and Wales. Our 21 territories deserve to be given that kind of recognition, and I hope the Committee will give that due consideration.” In a recent Government submission to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for a new White Paper on the Overseas Territories, the Bermuda Government called for a greater voice in the UK Parliament on issues affecting the Island. A section of the submissions read: “This could be done by serving on Parliamentary Committees, for example, where matters affecting Bermuda’s national interest are discussed.” Mr Rosindell visited the Island last year as part of a three-day fact finding mission, during which he met with Premier Paula Cox. He later told The Royal Gazette they had a frank exchange of views about the relationship between the UK and Bermuda. He also described Premier Cox as being “cynical” about the British Government’s desire for closer links, comments that National Security Minister David Burch said were disrespectful. There are problems with Mr. Rosindell's call for Bermuda to be given representation in the UK House of Commons. Bermuda's laws don't comply with the UK's laws in many respects. Bermuda already has very substantial benefits in the UK that are not similarly afforded by the Bermuda House of Assembly to UK nationals living and working in Bermuda. Any proposed arrangements should be reciprocal. Some examples of this anomaly include that Bermudians can, if they wish, be given full UK citizenship and without any waiting period at all. But Bermuda treats all incoming UK nationals as foreigners, requiring them to have Work Permits which are usually for limited periods of no more than 6 years, and completely denying them local citizenship (Bermudian Status) unless they marry a Bermudian and stay married to and cohabiting with that spouse for at least 10 years. Some Brits have lived in Bermuda for decades without ever being allowed to vote. Only under special circumstances, if they are allowed to live that long in Bermuda, do they become entitled to Permanent Residence (similar to a US Green Card) which is not citizenship and does not allow them to vote or own any home that a Bermudian can own. In contrast, in the UK, it is possible for a non-UK national to obtain citizenship in 5 years and if a UK national marries a non-national, that latter spouse can obtain citizenship in 3 years. In the UK any non-national and his/her spouse can buy any home without prejudice but in Bermuda all non-Bermudians including all Brits may only buy one 10% most expensive in property value or tax band home. Only in Bermuda, nowhere else in the British or British Commonwealth of Nations world, are British subject non-Bermudians told they may not be a joint home owner without an expensive special licence. In the UK, full British citizens do not lose voting rights after 6 months or more of absence, only after 15 or more years. But in Bermuda they do. Brits in Bermuda, even those born in Bermuda but with both parents not Bermudian, are deprived of citizenship. nIn the UK, Bermudians are treated as UK nationals in university fees. But British non-Bermudians in Bermuda pay full whack to attend Bermuda's community college. In the UK, conscription ended in the 1950s. But in Bermuda, young men - not young women - born in Bermuda and are Bermudian are severely punished if they evade Bermuda's archaic conscription laws. In other respects too, Bermuda's laws are far below the UK's laws as they relate to old age pensioners (senior citizens in Bermuda) not being eligible in Bermuda for free National Health Service-equivalent hospital, medical  and prescription coverage, seniors needing new car licenses after 65 (in the UK it is 70) and the severely disabled not having access in Bermuda to any of the UK's benefits awarded to the deserving disabled without any means testing. To allow Bermuda, with its present laws that conflict with those of the UK, to be part of the UK process would be a miscarriage of justice. Bermuda's laws must be amended first.

January 6, 2012. United Kingdom and its colonies have entered a new era with Whitehall seeking to “change the model short of self determination”, Premier Paula Cox said yesterday. But Government’s submission to the UK on relationships with the Overseas Territories contains a question about full sovereignty. “If Bermuda became independent, would the UK undertake not to revoke British passports held by Bermudians?” asks point 45 of the 53 point submission. At a media briefing to discuss Government’s submission on the Overseas Territories relationship with the UK, the Premier waxed positive about what she said was an improving relationship between the OTs and the UK Government. “What you’ve seen by the coalition government is very much what you hear from President (Barack) Obama. He talks about the era of engagement,” Premier Cox said. “And it’s an interesting turning on its heels what has been the relationship even under a Labour government. Here you have a coalition government which seems to have a very high level of interest in trying to actually talk to the Overseas Territories in a way that conveys and suggests a real interest in trying to change the model short of self determination.” The Premier explained that meetings with the British Government had demonstrated a “real interest in trying to show that we can have a relationship that doesn’t have to be them and us. So this is part of that continuing conversation.” But while Government’s submission pushes for more autonomy, a central bank and representation in global organizations almost like an independent country it is also seeking benefits from the UK in terms of technical assistance and functional cooperation. “The current position is that we are an Overseas Territory and as such there is an administering power and the administering power is the UK,” the Premier said. “In the confines of being a colony then certainly we are indicating there are areas where there can be assistance to provide and we’re certainly not asking for funding assistance. And that is the nature of the special relationship that the people of Bermuda at this time have opted to be in.” She said that while she was Leader of a party that supported Independence for Bermuda, she was “very clear” that the Island is an Overseas Territory of Britain. “But that (Independence) is not yet the position that the people of Bermuda are in.” And she noted that Bermuda enjoyed a “much more mature and developed constitution” than the other OTs, some of which have the Governor sitting in Cabinet and having the final say on key posts and Cabinet decisions. The Premier explained: "Bermuda is often asked to take the lead in meetings between the colonies and the UK as it is seen as different and “more immune from any sort of retaliatory action or any sort of punitive action. It doesn’t change the fact that we are still an Overseas Territory but we do have a more developed constitution.” The submission’s only direct reference to a sovereign Bermuda is the question on whether the UK would give an undertaking not to revoke British passports held by Bermudians in an independent Bermuda. The Premier was asked whether there had been any other instances in which the scenario of Independence had been raised. “Independence is a separate issue and on Independence the government does not operate by stealth. So to be honest, we don’t have the legitimate authority to try and take Bermuda Independent without the people’s buy-in.” After the briefing this newspaper posed a few follow up questions by e-mail, including one seeking the rationale for including the question referencing a sovereign Bermuda. But Acting Director of the Department of Communication and Information Dwayne Caines said there would be no further comment “at this time.” The Premier did elaborate on the rationale for seeking a Central Bank for Bermuda during the briefing. Currently, she said, the lender of last resort is the Government of Bermuda. “That’s why when we had a situation with one of our local financing institutions we had the government give that $200 million guarantee.  I think that every country is looking at where they can be more protectionist of their taxpayer and also not being held accountable for the faults or the excesses of others. For Bermuda it’s a coming of age to at least have those discussions. And also look at what are our options. It could be in Europe, it could be in the US but it is a reserve, separate, over and above of what we have.” 

January 6, 2012. Premier Paula Cox spoke with the media during a round table discussion on the Overseas Territories white paper yesterday. In her Bermuda's submission on the British Overseas Territories she stated a list of What We Want issues. They include: 

On the National Security Council

Addressing the Key Challenges Facing Bermuda Economy

September 27, 2011. Bermuda stands to play a central role in defining the future relationship between the UK and its overseas territories, according to Overseas Territories Minister Henry Bellingham. In a speech before a packed hall at the Bermuda College, Mr Bellingham praised the Island as “a sophisticated and high-quality business and tourist destination with a highly developed government system.” He commended Premier Paula Cox’s “recent initiatives to strengthen governance mechanisms.” Mr Bellingham then touched on the UK’s governance issues with another of its 14 former colonies. He said: “The situation we are now handling in the Turks and Caicos Islands is one that we do not want to see repeated in other Territories, and we will be seeking, through this strategy and other mechanisms, to ensure that we do not.” The Minister’s audience, Governor Sir Richard Gozney noted, included “more former Premiers than I have seen in one place”: David Saul, Alex Scott and Sir John Swan attended, along with Premier Paula Cox, numerous members of her Cabinet, US Consul General Grace Shelton, Director of Public Prosecutions Rory Fields, and Hamilton Mayor Charles Gosling. Mr Bellingham’s visit to Bermuda, his first, is intended to give an overview of the Island’s economy and political system, as well as to “launch a dialogue” in advance of next year’s White Paper by the UK Government on its Overseas Territories. Mr Bellingham said: “We believe that at this point in the history of our relationships with the Territories, when a decade of constitutional revision is coming to a close, the time is not right to embark on further constitutional change.  Rather, our strategy is to make sure the constitutional arrangements work properly to promote the best interests of the Territories and of the UK, both now and in the future.” He reiterated the British Government’s stance on independence, which is for Territories themselves to decide, on the basis of “the clearly expressed wish of the majority.” Mr Bellingham’s speech underlined the UK’s wish for “good governance, public financial management and economic planning” in its Territories. He invited feedback from “as many people in the Territories as possible”, including through an online portal. The Minister then fielded questions from his audience. Former Senator Walton Brown, Jr said the UK’s previous White Paper, in 1999, was “neither progressive, nor a partnership” with the Territories. Referring to Article 73 of the United Nations charter, which he said obliged Britain to move its Overseas Territories toward self-government, Mr Brown asked for the Minister’s comment. Mr Bellingham said that the UK “will not interfere in that decision-making process”, adding: “It’s a decision for the people of Bermuda.” PLP Senator LaVerne Furbert asked: “We hear often in Bermuda, and particularly of people in the Opposition, being concerned about the way Government is handling finances, and that there is a need for a commission of inquiry to look into the way the Bermuda Government is handling finances. Is there a need?” Mr Bellingham replied that the Bermuda Government does not need permission from the UK government to borrow on the international market. He said that in discussions with the Premier, they had talked about economic challenges, her plans for lowering Bermuda’s deficit and national debt, and called Bermuda’s debt “still healthier than the UK’s.” Mr Bellingham warned Bermuda not to be complacent about the future of its financial services industry and to diversify its economy, finishing: “The UK will not order Bermuda what to do.” Former Premier Sir John Swan said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office currently represented Bermuda’s interests abroad. “I have yet to believe to the process has been as energetic and as forthcoming as it should be,” he said. Sir John said that as other world governments “retrench themselves and seek new means of revenue”, they might encroach on Bermuda’s economic well-being, and asked if the UK would “reach beyond the reach” to defend Bermuda’s interests. “I can give you 100 percent assurance,” Mr Bellingham answered. Noting that in the European Union and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, there were “interests that are jealous” of the Territories, Mr Bellingham said: “I don’t call them tax havens. They are world-class offshore centers.” He said it was important for Bermuda represent its interests in the European Union, the Commonwealth and other international organizations. A member of the audience, Joshua Butler, jumped up to speak as Mr Bellingham was leaving the room, but was cut off by the Governor. “He told Senator Furbert we are okay, and we’re not okay,” Mr Butler charged. Sir Richard said the Minister’s schedule did not allow for extra time to speak. Mr Bellingham’s visit included meeting today with Bermuda’s Olympic athletes, who will compete in London next year.

September 26, 2011. British Overseas Territories minister Henry Bellingham, Member of Parliament for North West Norfolk, Conservative, visited Bermuda, in his capacity as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. His ministerial briefs include United Nations, Africa, Overseas Territories. He has been the Member of Parliament for North West Norfolk since 2001, having also represented the same constituency from 1983 to 1997.  He was born in March 1955. He studied Law at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Having graduated in 1977 he was called to the Bar (Middle Temple) where he served as a barrister for 8 years. He stated Bermuda could be in line to benefit from charity cash generated by the UK Lottery.  He told a press conference at Bermuda's Government House it seemed “quite wrong and anomalous” for Britain’s 14 Overseas Territories not to enjoy the fruits of the National Lottery. “It raises a vast amount of money and pays out billions of pounds but it’s not allowed to dispense money for good causes in the Overseas Territories,” he said. “I find that extraordinary. Ninety five percent of Britain’s biodiversity is in the Overseas Territories.” Apart from Bermuda, the other territories are Anguilla, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Island, St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, sovereign base areas on Cyprus, and Turks and Caicos. Mr Bellingham said there was a “complete illogicality” about not having the money available for the “280,000-odd” citizens of the territories and that it seemed “grossly unfair” to withhold it from those with British passports who wish to retain links with the UK. “It seems to me quite wrong and anomalous that they can’t enjoy the benefits of the lottery fund.” The Conservative MP said he planned to meet with the bodies responsible for dishing out lottery cash as a “priority”. The National Lottery has generated more than £26 billion for good causes in the UK, with the money going toward numerous sports, arts and heritage schemes, as well as health, education and environment charities. Mr Bellingham left Bermuda after a three-day visit during which he launched consultation on the UK Government’s new Overseas Territories White Paper, the first such report in a decade. He said the British Government wanted feedback from the citizens of all 14 territories for the White Paper, which will be released in 2012. The Minister described his trip here as having been “really excellent” and said he’d had a warm welcome from everyone, including Premier Paula Cox. He said Britain wanted to “reinvigorate” its relationship with the territories and make sure it was doing everything it should to support them. “We want to make sure that all the success and expertise in the UK ... can be harnessed in a way that can benefit the Overseas Territories. The UK Government does have important responsibilities. We want to carry out those responsibilities to the very best of our ability. Mr Bellingham fielded questions on a variety of issues at the press conference, including his discussions with Ms Cox this week and the four Uighurs brought here from Guantánamo Bay without Britain’s permission. He said he and the Premier talked about the gang warfare which has seen 16 men shot dead since May 2009 and suggested the situation had improved from a year ago. “I’m not saying it’s gone but it’s certainly a problem that the Government has taken action on,” he said. He revealed that his conversation with Ms Cox also focused on the Island’s financial situation, adding that he told her he would like to see Bermuda diversify its economy. “I think Bermuda could attract more IT businesses from around the world,” he said. “Renewable energy is also very important.” The Minister said the UK remained in talks with the US about the Uighurs, adding: “We are looking to the US State Department to find a permanent solution.” He was asked about Britain’s view of recent damning reports from the Auditor General on the spending of public funds. Mr Bellingham said while it was the responsibility of the UK Government to “keep an eye on what happens in territories” it wasn’t its role to put in place a fiscal responsibility framework for Bermuda. He said he’d met with the independent Auditor General and was impressed with her “absolute passion” for ensuring taxpayers get value for money. He added he expected her to continue working in a “rigorous” way. The Minister was asked about Bermuda’s policy of requiring British guest workers to obtain a work permit, though no such restrictions exist for Bermudians who go to live in the UK. He replied that Britain was a country of 65 million people, while Bermuda had a population of about 65,000. “One has to be realistic,” he said. “We are not comparing like with like and also I think that’s something for your Government to address.” Mr Bellingham added that he wanted to extend the right to work in Europe to holders of the “different categories of British passports.”

2011. February. The British MP who helps oversee the British Overseas Territories arrived in Bermuda on Monday for a three day stay. Andrew Rosindell visited in his role as Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the British Overseas Territories. He met Premier Paula Cox and other politicians, Chief Justice Richard Ground and Auditor General Heather Jacobs Matthews. He also visited the Bermuda Regiment, the Bermuda Police Service and Dellwood Middle School in Hamilton. Mr Rosindell, 44, is also chairman of the UK's Foreign Affairs Select Committee. His visit comes three years after that committee conducted an inquiry into the Overseas Territories. It made a series of recommendations for Bermuda including phasing out conscription to the Bermuda Regiment, reviewing voting rights for long-term residents, outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation and bringing in freedom of information legislation. The Bermuda Government is working on the issues of sexual orientation and freedom of information. However, controversy is ongoing over conscription and voting rights. Mr Rosindell is a Conservative party politician and represents Romford, in Essex, which is near London. His special political interests include the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, Foreign and Commonwealth affairs, animal welfare, European affairs, Constitutional affairs, law and order and defence. Before entering politics on a full-time basis he was a freelance journalist and public relations consultant. The British Broadcasting Corporation website says is known for being a right wing populist who is anti-Europe. 

2009. November 1. Bermudians were no longer be able to apply for full British passports in Bermuda and had to go through a Washington DC office. Only Bermuda government-issued British Overseas Territory not full UK citizen passports can be issued by Bermuda Immigration, see photo below. Those who wish to apply for a British citizen passport will not be able to fill out paperwork and drop it off at the Bermuda Government's Department of Immigration, as before. Bermuda's Department of Immigration will no longer accept applications for British citizen passports.  

Bermuda Dept of Immigration

Royal Gazette photo

Instead people wishing to apply for a full validity British citizen passport should do so by sending their applications by courier or registered post to the UK Passport Service Centre in Washington DC at the full address shown below. This is the new UK passport production centre for Bermuda.  These changes will not apply to those applying for or renewing British Overseas Territories Citizen Bermuda passports. Members of the public can use a courier company to send in their application for a full British citizen's passport A passport sent from Washington will arrive via UPS. The cost of the UK passport is presently $212 for adults for 32-pages or $255 for 48 pages (best for adult frequent travelers) and $135 for children under the age of 16, for the 32-page passport only. However an additional charge is made to cover the cost of returning it via UPS. Passports may take up to 10 weeks to arrive so applicants should plan accordingly. The mailing address for British Citizen Passport processing was: The UK Passport Service Centre for the Americas and Caribbean, British Embassy, 19 Observatory Circle, NW Washington, DC 20008, USA. British UK citizen passports are normally valid for 10 years from date of applicability but if you renew your passport within nine months of its expiry, the passport will be valid for ten years plus the nine months. Travelers are advised that some countries will not accept passports with less than months before expiry.

2009. June.  Without the knowledge of Bermuda's Governor, or Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, but arranged in a sneaky and underhand way between Bermuda's Premier, The United States Consul General in Bermuda and the United States government, four Uighur men were released from US custody at Guantanamo Bay and were flown secretly to Bermuda. Tensions between Bermuda and Whitehall reached fever pitch with Governor Richard Gozney calling the move 'invalid' and 'unacceptable.' As a British Overseas Territory, Bermuda is obligated to consult Britain on matters of foreign affairs and security. Both the Bermuda Government and the United States Consul General in Bermuda and its Government deliberately failed to do this. Taking in the Uighur detainees, who were conditionally cleared of wrongdoing by the USA, thrust the tension between the two countries into the international media spotlight. The Uighurs are rightly banned from ever going back to the USA for having accepted training from al Qaeda and taken part in terrorism.

2008. March. Members of the UK's House of Commons multiparty Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) visited Bermuda. The FAC is appointed by the House of Commons and comprises 14 back bench Members of Parliament from Government and Opposition parties, and reflects the views of the membership of the House as a whole. The FAC's function is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) which includes the diplomatic service. FAC members were, at that time:

Member Constituency Party
Mike Gapes (Chairman) Ilford South Labour
Rt Hon Sir Menzies Campbell QC North East Fife Liberal Democrats
Mr Fabian Hamilton Leeds North East Labour
Rt Hon David Heathcoat-Amory Wells Conservative
Mr John Horam Orpington Conservative
Mr Eric Illsley Barnsley Central Labour
Mr Paul Keetch Hereford Liberal Democrats
Andrew Mackinlay Thurrock Labour
Mr Malcolm Moss North East Cambridgeshire Conservative
Sandra Osborne Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock Labour
Mr Greg Pope Hyndburn Labour
Mr Ken Purchase Wolverhampton North East Labour
Rt Hon Sir John Stanley Tonbridge and Malling Conservative
Ms Gisela Stuart Birmingham Edgbaston Labour

Following their visit they issued a report on lack of voting rights for long-term residents, many of whom were denied Bermuda Status while others were deemed under Bermuda law to no longer qualify - but those concerned would have with ease in any European country, Canada, USA, Australia, etc. 

The issue was raised in a number of jurisdictions and the FAC quoted submissions from several long term residents (LTRs) complaining about Bermuda's strict immigration laws. The report said: "We received many submissions about rights of non-Belongers. Of most concern was the lack of voting rights." It quoted Jonathan Suter, from Bermuda, who described the fact that Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) holders in Bermuda did not have the vote as an "absolute embarrassment" and called for the UK Government to advise Bermuda to extend the franchise. Mr Suter had argued that PRC holders already have the right to live and work in Bermuda, therefore giving them the right to vote does not put any further pressure on the housing market or lend itself to any of the rhetoric concerning foreigners 'taking away' jobs from Bermudians. Mr Suter wrote: "Therefore, the only significant impact would be that PRC holders would have the opportunity to participate in the democratic process. The current Government would argue that this would somehow dilute the voting right of Bermudians. Yet, looking at the numbers, the number of PRC holders is about five percent of the voting population or 2,000 out of 42,00. PRC holders should have the right to hold the government accountable. They are not simply guests on the islands, they have been contributing members of society for over 20 years!" Julian Griffiths, from Hamilton, claimed Bermuda's immigration laws were "racist" and discriminatory and questioned why the UK Government had permitted them to continue. As well as lack of voting rights, he pointed out that non-Belongers, some of whom had lived in Bermuda for more than 20 or even 30 years, were also not given equal treatment under the tax system, or equal rights of property or business ownership. He added: "Worse, all these rights are denied to children born in Bermuda after August 1989 if their parents are not Bermudian, even though they may have lived all their lives in Bermuda. By extension this situation could lead to stateless people in the next generation." Mr. R. David of Bermuda also highlighted the issue of lack of rights for children of non-Belongers in the Territory and argued that it effectively made some children "second class citizens in their own land of birth." He added: "Strangely this denial of basic human rights upon such individuals continues to be endorsed by the silence of the FCO on this matter." Susan Parsons, a former Bermuda resident now living in Canada, explained to the FAC the impact non-Belonger status had on her family. She wrote: "I am married to a Bermudian and have been for ten years we have two children together born in Bermuda who hold full status. I had three children from my previous marriage when we met, born to a UK status father. We have had to leave Bermuda as when my children turn 21 they could not apply for status. This would have left my family in a situation where three children would be ripped away from their family and siblings and expected to start a life alone elsewhere. After having been brought up and schooled in Bermuda for over ten years. Is this not a constitutional breach of our rights as a family?" In conclusion the FAC wrote: "We conclude that although extending voting rights to non-Belongers will be politically difficult for Overseas Territory governments, the Government should at least encourage local administrations to review this issue with regard to non-Belongers who have resided in an Overseas Territory for a reasonable period. We recommend that the Government should propose that non-Belongers' rights be an agenda item for the next OTCC." 

They also recommended phasing out conscription and the outlawing of discrimination based on sexual orientation. The 171-page report on the Overseas Territories by the Foreign Affairs Committee went on to recommend that the UK Government encourage Bermuda to strengthen its transparency measures, including establishing an independent Electoral Commission and ending the practice of committees of the House of Assembly sitting in secret. And one passage of the report says: "We recommend that the Government sets out in its response to this report the steps it has taken to ensure that allegations of corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation, in the issuing of contracts, and of electoral fraud in Bermuda are properly investigated." The report noted submissions from Bermudians alleging Government improprieties, including claims that contracts were given to the party faithful, while Special Development Orders had not been handled in a transparent manner. And concerns were raised about the arrest of the Auditor General who was also thrown out of his office while he was off the Island. The MPs wrote: "During our visit to Bermuda, the Governor told us that his predecessor had objected strongly to the Bermuda government at the time." In a chapter on items relevant to Bermuda the team of MPs recommended that the UK Government take steps to ensure that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender status is made illegal in all Overseas Territories (OTs). While recognizing that extending voting rights to 'non-Belongers' will be politically difficult for OT governments, the UK Government was urged to at least encourage local administrations to review this issue with regard to non-Belongers who have resided in an Overseas Territory for a reasonable period. The FAC recommended Government should propose that non-Belongers' rights be an agenda item for the next Overseas Territories Consultative Council (OTCC). The Committee also wants the UK to urge the Bermuda government to move away from conscription and towards the Bermuda Regiment becoming a more professional organisation, with voluntary and paid elements. The UK MPs argued this could make serving in the Regiment more attractive, giving the staffing resources required to extend into maritime duties. The FAC recommends that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) should also strongly encourage all Overseas Territories which have not yet done so to introduce freedom of information legislation. The report said the FCO should review with Overseas Territories what steps they might take to improve their public accounting and auditing capability. And the FAC backed a recent report by fellow British MPs on the Public Accounts Committee's which recommended that the FCO should explore how Overseas Territories might make better use of UK expertise and that it should also explore whether those Territories with Public Accounts Committees could make more use of ex-officio members. The FAC also wants the Foreign and Commonwealth office to encourage Bermuda to continue to improve financial regulation, in particular in money laundering investigations. The report noted that Bermuda is the only Overseas Territory whose government favours independence but that opinion polls still showed a majority against splitting from Britain. The MPs said they were pleased with hints by UK Overseas Territories Minister Meg Munn that an election of a party by a tiny majority in low turnout election would not be acceptable as a way of taking the country to independence. In a press release accompanying the release of the findings Committee chairman, Mike Gapes MP, said: "This is a wide-ranging report considering the FCO's discharge of its responsibilities with regard to the UK's 14 Overseas Territories and making recommendations across these Territories. "We considered the FCO's management of the risks and contingent liabilities to which Overseas Territories expose the UK. We recommend that the FCO should encourage Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Gibraltar to continue to make progress in improving financial regulation, in particular in arrangements for investigating money laundering. Overall, we have concluded that, in some cases, the FCO's approach has been too hands-off. The FCO must take its oversight responsibilities for the Overseas Territories more seriously." A full report was sent to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office - see http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmfaff/147/147i.pdf. 

2005. January.  The latest unofficial poll, taken among a small group of people, suggested that more than 60% of the population were not in favor of independence. Not stated in the poll or in any comments or press columns to date on possible independence is whether both those voting for independence and those against have thought of the implications of complying with current UN, USA, Canada, UK and European Community fundamental Human Rights requirements relating to citizenship, namely citizenship after 3 years if married to a Bermudian, 5 years otherwise, similar to what the USA, United Kingdom, Australia, other major countries, Grenada and other Caribbean islands offer. (Currently, citizenship for a non-Bermudian spouse is after 10 years of marriage to a Bermudian and no further citizenships are given to non-Bermudians  with no Bermudian spouse, or children born there when neither parent is Bermudian. In most countries which are members of the UN, citizenship applies automatically to every child born there).

2002.  21 May.  Bermudians can get full British/EC passports and British citizenship virtually automatically, usually within a month and without any of the requirements and lengthy delays for non-British people living in the UK to get citizenship. Nor do they have to sear allegiance as do new UK citizens living in the UK. Also, they can live and work in UK and any EC country; buy any property they can afford; can register there to vote immediately and can do so in any UK or EC election; and if they physically live in the UK instead of returning to Bermuda on holiday, can get internal UK educational fees and more. 

Bermuda became a British Overseas Territory following the enactment in London of the British Overseas Territories Act 2002.

1977. Possible political independence for Bermuda from the UK was first reviewed comprehensively in a Green Paper, followed by a White Paper stating Government's view Bermuda was not ready. Bermudians rejected political independence on August 16, 1995 in a national referendum. In 1995, the great majority of those who participated in the 1995 referendum felt there were no economic benefits, only potential additional liabilities costly to bear, especially with the huge burden Bermuda taxpayers (and visitors) already have to bear for 47 politicians in less than 21 square miles and civil servants amounting to more than 15 percent of the entire workforce. Bermuda was the first British Commonwealth country to have a referendum on independence under the previous Bermuda Government. But it was boycotted by the Progressive Labour Party (the Bermuda Government since November 1998) and the results may not be accurate. It is not likely the present Bermuda Government will go this same democratic route. Based on what current PLP politicians and pundits are saying, independence is a foregone conclusion. But none say what the cost will be to Bermuda taxpayers of an already hugely inflated cost of government by international standards.

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Bermuda's British origins and traditions

Despite Bermuda's North American (not Caribbean) geography only 600 miles from the US East Coast, most of Bermuda's roots are British. Bermudians are linked to Britain in culture, habits, names of places, public holidays, driving on the left, systems of high taxation on gasoline (petrol), vehicles and more, Westminster style of Government, and sports like cricket, golf and soccer.  The British declared slavery illegal and took measures to stamp it out, decades before any action was taken in the USA. Many Bermudians do not know how their economy was at one time completely dependent on Britain.


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Bermuda's British Military Graveyards

In Sandys Parish and near Fort St. Catherine in St. George's Parish are several. Countless British Army and Royal Navy officers and other ranks are interred there. Many died from yellow fever in the 1800's. Others perished at sea during the two World Wars and were brought to Bermuda for burial. Some of Bermuda's Parish Churches, for example, St. Paul's in Paget Parish, also have graves of British military personnel.

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Bermuda Driving Licenses

There are no reciprocal arrangements with the United Kingdom or Canada or USA or any Caribbean island for mutual recognition of driving licenses. Even with such overseas driving licenses, newcomers must take and pass the same full written and driving tests as those who have never used them before, in order to drive a car or motor cycle or scooter or auxiliary cycle in Bermuda. Many countries - but not Bermuda - have such reciprocal arrangements. It means that when Bermudians or non-Bermudian newcomers go to the UK to work or study, they are not allowed to have the same arrangements there as do those holding driving licenses from Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Malta, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa and Switzerland. 

It is up to Bermuda to make similar reciprocal arrangements and so far this has not been done.

And even though Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory and Britain is part of the European Community, Bermudians in Britain cannot claim EC/EAA driving rights. However, they may drive on their Bermuda licences for up to one year. But the same gesture is not extended by the Bermuda Government to newcomers retiring or working or visiting Bermuda.

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Bermuda's London Office

Opened on February 2, 2009 by former Premier Ewart Brown, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office representatives, MPs and former Governors Lord Waddington, Thorold Masefield and Sir John Vereker. Other guests included former UK Minister and MP Meg Munn, Andrew Tuggey of the UK Branch Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and Director of Overseas Territories' affairs at the FCO Colin Roberts. At 6 Arlington Street. The Bermuda Government's London Office there covers 2,600 sq ft and is situated in the same building as the office for the Cayman Islands, in the City of Westminster. The primary focus of the Office will be Bermuda Government relations with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and British Members of Parliament. The space and staff are also available to Bermuda Government Ministries as the need arises." The facility raises Bermuda's profile in London.

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Bermuda Regiment

See more information than shown below in Bermuda's Traditions - under "Bermuda Regiment. 

Bermuda Regiment on parade

The local defence force, established along British Army Lines and associated with the latter, reporting to the Island's Governor. Officers and men take an oath of loyalty to the Queen. The Regiment is paid for by Bermudian, not UK taxpayers. Some locals served  in the Great War of 1914 to 1918 and World War 2 in the British Army, Royal Navy, Fleet Air Arm or Royal Marines or Royal Flying Corps or Royal Air Force. In world War 2, some served in the Canadian forces. Today, some members of the Bermuda Regiment go on special courses in Britain. 

The Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to the Governor was traditionally a Bermuda Regiment officer. He used to be a British Army officer on a secondment of about 2 years but this was stopped after both the Governor and his ADC - Captain Hugh Sayers, Welsh Guards - were assassinated in March 1973 while walking in the grounds of Government House. The ADC is the equivalent of an Equerry in the UK.

The Bermuda Regiment has 5.56mm Standard NATO Self Loading Rifles (SLRs) firing 5.56 rounds or (blanks). The only non-lethal options are the wooden baton, CS (tear gas) and the rubber bullet, and permission is needed from the Governor to use the two latter. The Bermuda Police Service is reluctant to ask for help from the Regiment because most are conscripted soldiers. The Regiment is only operationally capable of fulfilling one of its two roles – providing support for the community in the case of a natural disaster. A mostly conscripted regiment is not of much use for internal security, even in emergency situations, as was proved in the 1977 riots. The Regiment doesn't serve any operational purpose such as providing cordons for assaulting ERT teams, or access to criminal records to execute warrants. It's radio frequencies don't cross over with Police, so there is no direct communication directly with them. The equipment is inadequate and obsolete compared to what the police have. Examples include no ballistic helmets, no body armour for every soldier (unlike police), inadequate handcuffs, 1980s radios, no armoured vehicles (soldiers travel in camouflage painted PTB buses).  The armoury has no shrapnel grenades, ammunition is tightly  rationed, there are no explosives, there are only eight revolvers for service pistols, the four 7.62mm machine guns are normally out of service with one working occasionally. One of their four boats is operational, the other three are used for parts. A private soldier receives about $600 for a year of service, are not involved in decisions affecting them and work overtime without reasonable overtime pay. They get around $15 from 6.45-10.15 pm, a typical drill. They need 40 drills a year to get their $600 a year. It is cheap labour, one reason Government won't abolish conscription. The last two Ministry of Defence evaluations of the Regiment have been poor with problems no army should have – bad communication, poor equipment and a gap between officers and enlisted men. The regiment gets a D grade, to barely fulfill operational requirements. 

2018. June 23. Legislation to end conscription into the island’s military was passed in the House of Assembly last night. Wayne Caines, Minster of National Security, said the Defence Amendment Act was “a once-in-a-generation chance to transform the Royal Bermuda Regiment into a bespoke hybrid organisation, which is more efficient, effective and professional”. Mr Caines, a former officer in the RBR, said that conscription had “served Bermuda well over the years”. But he added: “That said, the modern era dictates that the time has come for conscription into the Royal Bermuda Regiment to end, as is the case in each of the other Overseas Territories. I am confident that Bermuda will be the better for ending conscription.” Mr Caines said his ministry had worked with the RBR to make sure the regiment would be able to sustain its volunteer numbers. He added: “The RBR will continue its extensive public relations campaigns and incentive programmes in order to attract men and women to serve.” Mr Caines said a review by the RBR had been conducted over the past six months. He added the report found that a total of 327 personnel, 28 officers and 299 soldiers, could carry out the work of the RBR. The number is down from the 400 soldiers recommended in a 2014 report. Mr Caines said the review also focused on the creation of a coast guard. He added: “The plan for the RBR Coast Guard is for the RBR to commence training now and perform the role alongside the Bermuda Police Service until the RBR Coast Guard is fully trained and completely take over the function.” The new Coast Guard is expected to take over maritime security duties in April 2020. Mr Caines said the RBR would recruit with “a promise to invest in those officers and soldiers who volunteer to serve Bermuda”. He added: “Through training partners in Bermuda and overseas, the regiment will deliver a pathway of education and training that is second-to-none. In short, this is a very exciting time to be a member of the Royal Bermuda Regiment.” Mr Caines said that he had met pressure group the Nine Colonels who “remain steadfast in their belief that conscription should not end”. But he added that they were “open” to the recommendations of the latest review. Mr Caines said: “They have made it clear that they would like to see a clear time continuum and firm undertaking by the Government that shows a commitment to enacting the key recommendations.” Michael Dunkley, a former premier and shadow national security minister, said that he had always felt “very uncomfortable” about conscription. He added: “I am glad that the day has come where we can deal with it.” But Mr Dunkley added: “At the same time, we need to make sure that the RBR is in a position to effectively fill out their mandate.” Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works admitted he was a “reluctant member” of the Regiment when he signed up. He said he had been opposed to the abolition of conscription, but that he could see the benefits of the Act. Colonel Burch added: “My own view on this has evolved. I get that times change and situations evolve. In order for this to be successful in terms of the survival of the Royal Bermuda Regiment, we require people who are in service to have the ability to convince young people that this is something they want to do. It must be aggressive and talk to young people where they are.” Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, a One Bermuda Alliance backbencher, said: “There are some of our young people who didn’t want to be there but who will tell you in retrospect that they could not have had a more positive experience. I’m going to miss hearing the positive experiences from those who didn’t want to do it.” Jamahl Simmons, the economic development minister, admitted he had been a “reluctant” conscript, but that the Regiment helped to “instil basic life skills”.

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Bermuda Society

Formed in London in 1987 to look after Bermuda's interests on a number of fronts, particularly in the areas of finance and commerce. Its membership includes some Bermudians living in London and rest of UK who wish to and qualify to join and pay the annual membership fee, plus former Governors of Bermuda. It promotes Bermuda's image; fosters closer links between Bermuda, the UK and Europe. works with BIBA and others and Bermudian students in the UK.

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Governors of Bermuda

 The first 24 Governors, starting with Richard Moore in 2012, were employees of the Bermuda Company, a commercial venture set up to exploit the Island's resources for the profit of investors. Where "President" is shown, it  means President of the locally appointed Executive Council, not a US-style title.


Sir Thomas Gates and Admiral Sir George Somers 1609-1610 Highest ranking colonists from the shipwrecked Sea Venture ship and its 150 colonists.
Richard Moore 1612-1615 Gentleman. A Member of the ancient and historic Carpenter's Company, incorporated by Royal Charter as a City of London Livery Company in 1477 by King Edward IV. A body Corporate and Politic by the name of the Master Wardens and Commonalty of the "Mistery of Freemen" of the Carpentry of the City of London. Served for four years.
6 Commissioners, see below 1615, 29 June Provisional Government
Charles Caldicott 26 June 2015 to May 1616 Commissioner
John Mansfield 28 June 1615 to May 1616 Commissioner
Miles Kendall 29 June 1615 to May 1616 Commissioner
Christopher Carter 29 June 1615 to May 1616 Commissioner
Thomas Knight 29 June 1615 to May 1616 Commissioner
Edward Waters 29 June 1615 to May 1616 Commissioner
Daniel Tucker May 2016 to 1618 First Governor, followwd by other below as Governors
Miles Kendall later in 1618 to October 1619 Had earlier been a Commissioner
Nathaniel Butler October 1619 to 25 October 1622 Prior to his appointment was a privateer (engaged in maritime warfare under a commission of war in the early 17th century), was instrumental in building many structures during his tenure including the State House in St George’s, which housed Bermuda’s first Parliament.
John Harrison 25 October 1622 Sheriff, temporary
John Bernard November 1622 Died in office
John Harrison Temporary
Henry Woodhouse December 1623
Phillip Bell 20 September 1626
Roger Wood 29 August 1629
Thomas Chaddock July 1637
William Sayle 1641
Josias Forster 1642
William Sayle 1643
William Sayle, Stephen Paynter, William Wilkinson 1644 Triumvirate
Josias Forster 1645
Jonathan Turner 1647
John Trimingham 25 September 1649
John Jennings 1650
Josias Forster November 1650
William Sayle 3 January 1659
Florentius Seymour 12 January 1663
Samuel Whalley 15 May 1668
Sir John Heydon 1669, 15 May
Florentius Seymour 1681, 30 May Died in office 3 Nov 1682
Henry Durham 1682, 9 November Temporary
Col. Richard Coney 1683, 29 January  
Col Richard Coney 1685-1687 End of Bermuda Company Charter
Sir Robert Robinson 12 April 1686 to 20 June 1690 Born in England in 1624. His origin and place of birth are obscure, possibly in Kent or Sussex, but he was not high-born. First Governor appointed by King Charles the Second after Bermuda officially became a Crown Colony. Robinson obtained his naval commission on merit not privilege in October 1652. He first went to Newfoundland in 1661 at the time of Lord Baltimore’s attempt to establish proprietary government. He was the commodore of annual convoys in 1665, 1668, and 1680. He earned special distinction as a Royal Navy captain in the 2nd Anglo-Dutch War of 4 March 1665 to 31 July 1667. He successfully petitioned Charles II for the post of governor of Newfoundland in 1669. He was knighted in 1675 for sustained outstanding service to the Crown In 1682 a commission for Robinson’s court-martial was issued after he had allegedly allowed the dispersal of an incoming convoy from Cadiz, but the charge was deemed mischievous, he was restored to Royal favour. He arrived in Bermuda in 1686 as Governor. There, he was appalled to discover Bermuda's remote geographical vulnerability in a sea by then deemed strategic by the French, Spanish and Dutch  One of his first acts was to order the formation of a substantial local militia. Robinson Bay, Devonshire, got its name from this Governor. During an unhappy term of office in Bermuda he was constantly the victim of malicious acts by local officials. They tried unsuccessfully to charge him with financial corruption and also alleged he sent his English wife back to England while he took up with a local woman not of his complexion who bore him a child. Innocent, he left Bermuda angrily in 1690 in an effort to clear his name. He apparently asked, without success, to go back to Newfoundland as Governor. He died in England in 1705, on a rear-admiral’s life-pension, at the age of eighty-one.
Isaac Richier 1691-1693 Lieutenant Governor
John Goddard 1693-1696
Samuel Day 1698, 20 Oct-1700, 18 December Lieutenant Governor


Benjamin Bennett 2 May 1701 to 1713
Henry Pulleine 1713-1718 Lieutenant Governor
Benjamin Bennett 1718-1722

John Hope


John Trimingham 1727, November-1728, August President
John Pitt 1728-1737
Andrew Auchinleck 1737, Dec-1738, May President
Alured Popple  2 August 1738 to 9 November 1744 1699 - 17 November 1744). English civil servant and Governor of Bermuda. A well-connected English family. Popple's great-grandmother, Mary Marvell, was a sister of the poet Andrew Marvell. Mary married Edmund Popple, Sheriff of Hull. Their son William was a correspondent of Marvell's and developed a friendship with John Locke, whose Letter on Toleration he translated into English. Popple's brother William (1700/1-1764) published verses, plays, satires, and translations (including one of Horace's Ars Poetica published in 1753). He was also the co-author (with Aaron Hill) of The Prompter, a dramatic periodical published 1734-1736. Unpublished translations and stage adaptations by William Popple are at the British Library and the Bodleian. Alured Popple held a clerkship at the Board of Trade during his early years, and in 1722 was appointed secretary to the Board, a post held by his grandfather and father before him (William from 1696-1707, William Jr. from 1707-1722). Alured held the post until 1737, when he relinquished it to his brother William. During his tenure he implemented a system of fees for the services carried out by the office, replacing the system of informal graft that had developed. He was known for his "great knowledge and capacity of governining." In 1737 Popple was appointed lieutenant-governor of Bermuda, and a year later he acceded to the governorship.  Upon his arrival in Bermuda, Popple wrote back to London "Notwithstanding the information I had in the Plantation Office, Bermuda never appeared to me to be of such consequence as I now find it to be." During his governorship, Popple worked to increase Bermuda's fortifications, supported various agricultural experiments, tried to unknot certain difficulties with the island's currency system, and generally attempted to bring order to Bermuda's political climate. Popple was housed in the third "government house" in St. George (which stood on what is now the site of the Unfinished Church). At some point during his tenure the house leaked; as Henry Wilkinson put it, "when the roof leaked over Alured Popple so that he had to rent a dwelling in the town to save his books and portraits, St. Georgians felt the humiliation so keenly and expressed it so tenderly that His Excellency in turn was touched by their solicitude and spurred to hasten his return to 'government house,' as it was then called." In the meantime Popple stayed at Bridge House (today owned by the Bermuda National Trust). Popple introduced Freemasonry to Bermuda, being appointed Provincial Grand Master of the Bermudas or Somer's Islands under a patent granted by Lord Strathmore. Popple's brother William (who replaced him as governor at his death) was granted the same position. Popple died of a "bilious fever" on 17 November 1744, after an illness of nine days. His elegant grave marker is mounted inside St. Peter's Church, in St. George's, Bermuda. Popple's extensive library of more than a thousand volumes, starting with the Latin classics and then the Greek in translation, traversed all the standard poetry, prose, and drama not only of England but of France, with an ample supply of biography, history, law both civil and ecclesiastical, theology, medicine, commerce, fortifications, natural science, pure science, and pseudo-science including the veterinarians' and farriers'. There was nearly everything from rhetoric, through six volumes of Pills to Purge Melancholy, to shorthand, and the collection included Captain John Smith's History of Virginia, Oldmixon's History of the British Empire, several volumes on the buccaneers, Dampier's Voyages, Gulliver's Travels and Robinson Crusoe. Popple's library includes some very significant works, including titles by Galileo and Newton. Among the other scientific items in Popple's study were "A Pair of Globes," "A Camera Obscura," "A Microscope," "An Universal perpetual Mathem[atical] Instrum[ent]" and various navigational tools. In the inventory of Popple's estate taken after his death, the library is appraised at £175/1/3, a sizeable percentage of the entire estate (valued at £761/5/5). The list of books consumes seven of the ten pages of the inventory (Bermuda Book of Wills, Vol. 8, pp. 19-28). Just what happened to his books is a mystery.
Francis Jones 1744, Nov-1747, June President
William Popple 1747, July-1751, November
Francis Jones 1751, November-1755, November President
William Popple 1755, November-1763, December
Francis Jones 1763, December- 1764, August President
George James Bruere 1764, August-1780, August (16 years)

Governor George James BruereBorn about 1721, on 17 July 1743 Bruere married Elizabeth Neale, daughter of Richard Neale by his marriage to Anne Pendock, in St Mary's Church, Nottingham, England. After an early career as a British Army officer, Bruere was appointed Governor of Bermuda in 1764. Previously serving in the army with the rank of lieutenant colonel, he arrived in Bermuda on the Prince of Wales in August 1764, bringing with him his wife and nine children. The longest-serving of all Bermuda Governors. Upon his arrival as Governor in Bermuda, Sir Bruere was aghast at the lax way in which slaves were treated in Bermuda. Familiar with the control of slaves in other colonies, he suggested that “white Bermudians should bring the Negroes to a better regularity and obedience and to prevent their unlawful assemblies, thefts and pernicious practices of leaving their masters houses and going to meetings by night”. He has been described as "a benign, simple and kindly man with a large family" and by the historian Sir John William Kaye as "a staunch royalist... loyal to the core". However, Kaye also wrote: Of this Governor Bruere. the colonial annalists relate that he was a man of an irascible temper and overbearing disposition, living and ruling in a perpetual state of antagonism with the Assembly and the People. He was a soldier, and a good one; but he was habituated to command, and impatient of opposition. "Within one year of his appointment as Governor, Members of the House of Assembly resolved to appoint a Committee headed by the Speaker to address all relevant matters to his Majesty the King on the “tyranny and oppression of the Governor”.  He died in office as Governor in 1780 and Thomas Jones was appointed as Governor for a rather brief period and by a twist of fate, George James Bruere, the younger, was appointed Governor of Bermuda from 1780-1781. The first time in history a father and son served as Bermuda Governors.

Thomas Jones 1780, September-October President
George  Bruere (son) 1780, October-1781, December Lieutenant Governor
William Browne 1782, January-1788, October American Loyalist
Henry Hamilton 1788, October-1794, October Initially Lieutenant Governor, then Governor
James Crauford  1794, 8 November- 1796, 27 October
Henry Tucker 1796, 27 October -22 November President
William Campbell 1796, 22 November-1 December
Henry Tucker 1796, December-1798, February President
George Beckwith 1798, February-1803, March


Name Date  Title if not Governor, or remarks
Henry Tucker 1803, April-1805, April President
Francis Gore 1805, May-1806, June Lieutenant Governor
Henry Tucker 1806, June 13-July 31 President
John Hodgson 1806, July-1810, June

Governor John HodgsonBorn 1757 – died 14 January 1846. A British Army General who served as colonel of the 4th (King's Own) Regiment of Foot. He was  the son of Field Marshal Studholme Hodgson and Catherine Howard (daughter of Lieutenant General Thomas Howard) and educated at Harrow School. He was commissioned as an ensign in the 4th (King's Own) Regiment of Foot on 20 May 1779. He was captured and held prisoner by the French ship La Vengeance in 1797 during the French Revolutionary Wars. He went on to be Governor of Bermuda from 1806 to 1810.] He also served as colonel of the 3rd Garrison Battalion of the 83rd Regiment of Foot and then as colonel of the 4th (King's Own) Regiment of Foot from 1835–1846). He was father of General Studholme John Hodgson. A stickler for military discipline and accustomed from his rank and high office to being obeyed instantly, he had labored for fruitless years to instill proper procedural correctness in Bermuda's  unruly colonials. One of his particular concerns was his perceived belief that what were then Bermuda's leading families were controlling Parliament and therefore the entire Bermuda Government. He worked to get rid of that domination. In trying to do so, he incurred the permanent wrath of the white Bermudians who had voting rights. He attempted to wrest financial control away from those Bermudian merchant families, by then mostly living in Hamilton or with business interests there. To try to change things he appointed his own favorite, William Smith, to the post of Treasurer. But the House of Assembly, led by Speaker James Tucker, refused to ratify that appointment. Governor Hodgson promptly dissolved Parliament but the ensuing election resulted in the same members being returned to Parliament. So the Governor dissolved Parliament again. In an effort to appease the Governor, Mr. Tucker resigned as Speaker and with others in agreement had his son-in-law John Harvey, also a Member of Parliament, appointed as Speaker. Mr. Harvey, however, refused to approve the appointment of Mr. Smith as Treasurer, also ignored a summons from the Governor to attend Smith's swearing-in which would not be legal unless the Speaker was present. So the Governor had the Speaker arrested and jailed and dissolved Parliament again. In all, the Governor dissolved Parliament four times before the dispute was laid before the King of England.

Samuel Trott 1810, June-1811, August President
Sir James Cockburn 1811, August-1819, April
William Smith 1812, 4 July-14 September President
George Horsford 1812, September-July 1814 Lieutenant Governor
William Smith 1816, July-1817, November President
Sir James Cockburn 1817, November-1819, April
William Smith 1819, 15 April-25 November President
General Sir William Lumley 1819, November-1825, June General Sir William LumleyThe Hon William Lumley was born on 28 Aug 1769. He was the 7th son of Richard Lumley-Saunderson the 4th Earl of Scarborough and his wife Barbara Savile. He was educated at Eton and commissioned as a cornet into the 10th Light Dragoons in 1787. In 1791 he was a lieutenant, and a captain in 1795. In that year he transferred to the 22nd Light Dragoons which had been raised in 1793. He went with them to Ireland where they were needed to quell the rebellion on 1798. He became CO of the 22nd and commanded the cavalry at Antrim in June 1798. Lumley was severely wounded in the action but his leadership of a charge against rebels earned him distinction. He next served in Egypt in Abercrombie’s successful invasion in 1801. The 22nd LD were disbanded in 1802 but Lumley was in command of Reserves until 1804 and was then promoted to major-general in 1805. The following year he volunteered to take part in the expedition to South Africa, and on 8 Jan 1806 fought at the decisive battle of Blaauwberg near Cape Town which established British Rule there. In 1807 he was in South America with General Whitelocke’s invasion of the River Plate. In 1808 he commanded the cavalry in Sicily and was part of the invasion of Italy under Sir John Stuart. Lumley did not stop to rest in his military career. In 1810 he was in Spain fighting the French in a campaign that led up to the siege of Badajoz in 1811. In May 1811, at Albuhera, he was given command of the cavalry after Robert Ballard Long was sacked by Sir William Beresford. His support of the flanks in the main assault on the French helped to win the day. Shortly after, he successfully led the cavalry at the Battle of Usagre. By this stage he was unwell and had to be invalided home. Lumley’s fighting days were over and he was rewarded with various appointments:

1812 Groom of the Bedchamber
1812 Colonel of the Royal West India Rangers
1814 Promoted to Lieutenant-General
1814 Appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB)
1819 Governor of Bermuda (until 1825)
1827 Colonel of the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons. 3 Nov
1831 Elevated to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB)
1837 Promoted to General
1840 Colonel of the 1st Dragoon Guards. 30 April
1842 Retired from military duties

His Governorship of Bermuda ended under a cloud in 1825. He was accused of interfering in the ecclesiastical matters of the island and fined one thousand pounds. He was married twice but had no children. His first wife married him in 1804, Mary Sutherland of Ulverstone, but she died 3 years later. His second wife was Mrs Louisa Margaret Cotton widow of Colonel Lynch Cotton. They married in 1817. General the Hon Sir William Lumley died at his London house in Grosvenor Square on 15 Dec 1850.

William Smith 1822, May- 1823, October Acting, following problems with  General Lumley
William Smith 1825, June-1826, February President
Sir Hilgrove Turner 1826, February- 1829, July
Robert Kennedy 1829, July-November Acting 
Sir Hilgrove Turner 1829, November-1830, July
Robert Kennedy 1830, July -November Acting 
General Sir Tomkyns Hilgrove Turner, GCH, KH 1830, November-1832, January General Sir Tomkyns Hilgrove TurnerTomkyns Turner was born on 12 Jan 1764, the son of Richard Turner a surgeon in Uxbridge, Middlesex. He fought in Egypt in the Napoleonic War, at Aboukir Bay and Alexandria, and when certain artifacts fell into British hands following the defeat of the French in 1801, Colonel Turner was entrusted with the delivery of the Rosetta Stone to Britain. This large black piece of stone is now on display in the British Museum. It has a text carved on it in three languages, Egyptian, Demotic and Greek, dating back to 196 BC (196 BCE). It proved invaluable to Egyptologists, enabling them to decipher hieroglyphics. The story of it’s capture from the French, by Turner himself, is clouded in controversy as is the national ownership. He was Colonel of the British Army's Green Howards for 32 years from 27 Apr 1811 to 30 May 1843. Other posts that he held were Groom of the Bedchamber to George VI, Lieutenant-Governor of Jersey, and Governor of Bermuda. He was married to Esther Senecaut and they had 3 sons and 2 daughters. He died on 6 May 1843. The portrait is by an unknown artist showing him in the uniform of a 3rd Foot Guards officer.
Sir RS Chapman 1832, January-1835, April
Henry G Hunt 1835, April-September Acting
Robert Kennedy 1835, September-1836, January Acting
Sir RS Chapman 1836, January-1839, April
William Reid 1839, April-1846, November Governor William ReidReferred to fondly. He improved agriculture, founded the Annual Agricultural Exhibition, promoted education for all, founded the library, built the Gibbs Hill lighthouse and supported charitable works. He was also a polymath: a 48-year-old highly decorated war veteran, a qualified surveyor and military engineer, a meteorologist, a teacher and a member of the British Royal Society who, the year before coming to Bermuda, had published a book on hurricanes. The book’s full title was An Attempt to develop The Law of Storms by means of facts arranged according to place and time; and hence to point out a cause for the Variable Winds, with the view to practical use in Navigation. His fame had already spread to the USA. On his appointment as governor in December 1838, the Bermuda Gazette reported, “It is stated in the New York Papers that Colonel REID of the Royal Engineers, is appointed Governor of Bermuda. This is Lieut. REID, we presume, whose paper on the Law of Storms, was recently presented to the British Association for the advancement of Science.” He was born on April 25, 1791, the eldest son of James Reid, a Presbyterian minister of Kingglassie in Fifeshire, Scotland, about 50 miles north of Edinburgh and close to Glenrothes. He was educated at Musselburgh, a state-run grammar school just east of Edinburgh, and at the Edinburgh Academy in Edinburgh itself. In 1806, he enrolled in the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich near London. He graduated as a second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers in February 1809, and was promoted to first lieutenant the following year, when he joined Wellington’s army in Portugal at the age of 19. The Peninsular (Iberian or Spanish/ Portuguese peninsula) War of 1807 – 1814 featured a series of sieges during which one side sought to dislodge the other from fortified towns. Consequently, the ability to trench, mine, undermine, build assault equipment, blow things up and build forts and bridges became key skills in the war’s prosecution. Lt. Reid, royal engineer, was in the forefront of these sieges. He and his fellow engineer Philip Wright were called by Wellington “Reid and Wright.” In April 1811, they participated in the first siege of Badajos, where Reid was wounded in the knee. The following January, Reid was wounded in the leg during the successful siege of Cuidad Rodrigo. Surgeons never extracted the musket ball, making Reid, had he lived in our times, liable to set off airport alarms. In April 1812, Reid was in the trenches at the third siege of Badajos. His commanding officer, Sir Richard Fletcher, recommended him for promotion to captain because of his “commanding merits.” The promotion was denied because no engineer had been so elevated. The class-obsessed British army of the time also believed that engineers – and Scots – were not quite gentlemen. At the siege of San Sebastian in July 1813, Reid was wounded in the neck and believed dead. However, his neckerchief had pressed into the wound, and when it was withdrawn, the bullet came with it. Reid stayed with Wellington’s army until the French were driven from Spain. The army sent him to the United States in July 1814, where he took part in the January 1815 Battle of New Orleans and where his friend Wright was killed. After his retirement from active service, he was mostly unemployed in the 1820s, except for a short spell working on the Ordnance Survey of Ireland. In December 1831, he was sent to Barbados in order to repair government buildings damaged by the catastrophic hurricane of August 1831, in which some 1,477 lives were lost. During this time spent in the ruins of Barbados, Reid took an interest in the nature of hurricanes and was determined to understand them better. Local histories were no help, because they described damage and loss of life and property but provided little meteorological data. Help came from an unexpected quarter. In 1831, William C. Redfield of New York published an article in the American Journal of Science about the Great September Gale of 1821, which had caused massive damage to New York and New England. Redfield recorded observations of trees blown over by the storm, noting the direction in which they had fallen. He followed the path of the storm on foot through Connecticut. Trees felled in the eastern part of the state pointed northwest; trees blown over in the western part “were prostrated with their heads to the south-east.” From this data, he concluded that the storm that had passed over Connecticut in September 1821 was a very large, anticlockwise-turning whirlwind. The article was a conceptual breakthrough in the understanding of hurricanes, and Reid was certain that Redfield was correct. He started a correspondence, and although they never physically met, they became collaborators and friends. Reid set out to expand and corroborate Redfield’s ideas. He presented diagrams of what the “whirlwinds” looked like, and then showed what the experience of sailing through them would be like. He used the best possible source of hard meteorological data, which resided in the logbooks of British merchant vessels and Royal Navy ships that passed through the Caribbean and encountered storms. There were three things about this data that made it superior: first, the use of standard shipboard times and locations based on Greenwich Mean Time and the sextant; second, standard frequencies and formats for data recording enforced by naval regulations or insurers; and third, standard units of measurement. Reid first analyzed the movements and progress of HMS Blanche, a British naval frigate sailing from Cuba to Halifax during a hurricane in August 1830. Then he turned his attention to the Barbados hurricane of 1831 using a mixture of anecdote from Barbados, St. Vincent and St. Lucia, local journals, Redfield’s work, reports from the French ship Martial sailing from Le Havre to Martinique, and the log of the British schooner Duke of York sailing between Trinidad and Barbados. The result is one of the first visual depictions of a hurricane as seen from the point of view of a weather satellite. Reid provided illustrations of the extreme and terrifying conditions that ships experienced. In the hurricane of 1837, the master of merchant ship Calypso describes how he and some of the crew cut away masts and rigging, saving the ship: “…fourteen men and myself got over the rail between the main and mizzen rigging, as the mast-heads went under the water: the ship was sinking fast; while some men were employed cutting the weather-lanyards of the rigging, some were calling to God for mercy; some were stupefied with despair…” The Neptune underwent a similar near-foundering experience in the Indian Ocean in 1835. Reid roamed farther afield and across time, using his growing collection of data to report on Southern Hemisphere typhoons as far away as Mauritius and Java and to examine those occurring some 50 years in the past. Two other conjectures about storms emerged as Reid’s narrative unfolded. He speculated that the storms in the Southern Hemisphere would be a mirror to those in the Northern Hemisphere, revolving clockwise. In this, he was completely right. The second proposition was that the origin of storms was electrical or magnetic. He had hollow iron spheres, covered with copper wire attached to batteries, made at Woolwich in an attempt to simulate hurricanes as they developed, but the results were unclear and subsequently found to be false. The Law of Storms was published by John Weale, a specialist engineering publisher, and was an immediate success. For the first time, people on land or sea were armed with predictive knowledge of an imminent hurricane, and therefore they could take appropriate shelter or adopt the correct tack to minimise danger. Honours accumulated for Reid. In 1838, the army made him a Companion of the Bath (C.B.), and in January 1839, Reid was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He had overcome the snobbery and class prejudice that had blocked his promotion during the Peninsular War. On April 16, 1839, the Bermuda Gazette reported his arrival: “The merchant ship Barlow with his excellency Colonel Reid, C.B., our newly-appointed Governor on board, came to at Murray’s Anchorage on Thursday last, after a tedious passage of 51 days from Portsmouth.” Five months after the new governor’s arrival, Bermuda was struck by a hurricane on the oddly prophetic date of September 11. It was the first major hurricane of the century, causing catastrophic damage, but no lives were lost. Since Reid’s theories enabled people to predict the direction of wind in a circular storm and take appropriate shelter, it may well have been due to Reid's positive outcome in The Law of Storms.
W N Hutchinson 1846, November-December Acting
Captain Charles Elliott 1846, December-1852, August Captain, Royal Navy
W Hassell Eden 1852, August-1853, May Acting

1853 to 1899

George Philpots 1853, May-September Acting
Thomas C Robe 1853, September Acting
Soulden Oakley 1853, September-October Acting
Arthur W Byles 1853, October-November Acting
Charles Elliott 1853, November- 1854, February
Montgomery Williams 1854, February-October Acting
Freeman Murray 1854, October-1859, June
A T Hemphill 1859, June-October Acting
William Munroe 1859, October-1860, February Acting
Freeman Murray 1860, February- 1861, March
H. St George Ord 1861, March- 1864, June
William Munroe 1864, June-July Lieutenant Governor
W G Hamley 1864, July-1865, October Lieutenant Governor
H. St George Ord 1865, October-1866, November
W G Hamley 1866, Nov-1867, April Lieutenant Governor
Arnold Thompson 1867, April Acting
Sir F E Chapman 1867, April-1870, May
W F Brett 1870, May-September Lieutenant Governor
T Gore Brown 1870, September-1871, April Administrator
A A C Fisher 1871, April-May Acting
Sir John Henry Lefroy, KCMG, CB, FRS   1871 - 1877 Governor John Henry LefroyA Royal Artillery officer and scientist who pioneered the study of terrestrial magnetism and conducted the first comprehensive magnetic and meteorological survey in British North America. In 1843, to accomplish this he travelled 5,000 miles to North West Canada to measure magnetism in 300 locations and locate the magnetic North Pole. The painting, right, of Lefroy in the North West was painted by Paul Kane in 1845-46. It was auctioned in 2002 and bought by multi-millionaire Kenneth Thompson for 3,172,567 US dollars. He donated it to the Art Gallery of Ontario. He was the co-founder of the Royal Canadian Institute.

1817 Born on 28th Jan
1834 Joined Royal Artillery at the age of 17
1839 Sent to St Helena to supervise the observatory
1842 Sent to Toronto
1843 In May he led an expedition to measure magnetism in the North West
1846 Married first wife, Emily
1848 Became a member of the Royal Society
1849 Co-founded Royal Canadian Institute
1853 Returned to London
1853 Appointed Inspector-General of Army Schools
1859 First wife died
1860 Married second wife, Charlotte
1868 Appointed Director of Ordnance Office
1870 Retired from army as Major-General
1870 CB
1871 Governor of Bermuda, until 1877
1877 KCMG
1880 Governor of Tasmania, until 1881
1890 Died on 11th April

Lt. Gen. Thomas L. J. Gaiwey 1877-1882 
Lt. Gen. Edward Newdigate Newdegate 1888-1892  1888. October. Sir Edward Newdigate Newdegate KCB (June 15, 1825 to August 1, 1902) became Governor of Bermuda, until June 1892. He was a member of the Newdigate family. He was born at Astley, near Nuneaton, Warwickshire, the second son of Francis Parker Newdigate and Barbara Maria Legge. He was a professional soldier and reached the rank of Lieutenant General in the Rifle Brigade. He served in the Crimean and Anglo-Zulu Wars. On retirement from the Army he was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. He changed his surname by Royal Licence in 1888 to Newdigate Newdegate. He married Anne Emily Garnier on 1st June 1858. Their home was Astley Castle, Astley, Warwickshire. In his honour a place in Warwickshire, England, is named after him.
Lt. Gen. C. Lyons 1892-1896 
Lt. Gen. O. Digby Barker 1896-1901 


Lt. Gen. Sir Henry LeGuay Geary, KCB 1902-1904 
Lt. Gen. Sir Robert M. Steward 1904-1907 
Lt. Gen. Sir Josceline H. Wodehouse 1907-1908 
Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick Walter Kitchener, KCB 1908-1912  Died while in office and was buried in Bermuda at Prospect. A tribute to him in York, England reads: To the Glory of God and in affectionate memory of Lt. Gen Sir Frederick Walter Kitchener, KCB. Joined 2nd Batt 1876, commanded 2nd Batt West Yorkshire Regiment during the relief of Lady Smith 1889-1900. Died March 6th 1912 in his 57th year while Governor of Bermuda. This tablet erected by his brother officers."
Lt. Gen. Sir George M. Bullock 1912-1917 
Gen. Sir James Willlcocks 1917-1922 
Lt. Gen. Sir J. J. Asser 1922-1927 
Lt. Gen. Sir Louis Jean Bols 1927-1931  Lt General Sir Louis Bols, GovernorBefore he became Bermuda Governor from 1927 to 1931, he had an exceptional military career.  Accompanying General Allenby to Palestine as his chief of staff in June 1917, Bols showed his profound knowledge of the handling of troops, their limitations, and their skilful use, which enabled him to effect one of the most brilliant feats of the war: the capture of Jerusalem (9 December 1917) and the final defeat of the Turks in Syria. In 1918 he was created KCMG by the Duke of Connaught in Jerusalem, and in the following year he was promoted KCB. He had been twelve times mentioned in dispatches, and besides his two military knighthoods had received many decorations from the allied powers.

Bols attended the peace conference in Paris in 1919 (January–March) and returned to Palestine later that year as chief administrator of the province (still a military appointment). Despite great hopes of what he could achieve, he felt stymied by the Zionist commission, which he described as an administration within the administration. A civil administration led by Herbert Samuel took over from Bols and the military in 1920. However, before transferring power the latter was forced to sign ‘one of the most quoted documents in Zionist history’. This read: ‘Received from Major-General Sir Louis J. Bols K.C.B.—One Palestine, complete’. Samuel described the event in his Memoirs (1945).

In 1920 Bols was appointed to command the 43rd Wessex division and the south-west area, and in 1921 he became colonel of the Devonshire regiment and of the 12th London regiment (the Rangers). Seven years later he was appointed governor and commander-in-chief of Bermuda. As an executive officer he had few equals in the service, and carried out the plans of others when that was his duty with the same enthusiasm and efficiency as he devoted to his own. He was of a kindly and sympathetic disposition, and the possessor of a keen sense of humour, these attributes attracting the admiration and affection of his comrades. Bols died at 8 Upper Church Street, Bath, on 13 September 1930. He was survived by his wife.

Lt. Gen. Sir Thomas Astley-Cubbitt 1931-1936
Lt. Gen. Reginald Hildyard 1936-1939  Resigned his post in 1939 after the Bermuda Government refused to purchase a motor car to assist in the conduct of his official affairs.
Lt. Gen. Sir Denis John Charles Kirwan Bernard, KCB, CMG, DSO 1939-1941  Born in 1882, died 1956. A British Army officer who commanded 3rd Infantry Division of the British Army. He was the son of Percy Bernard MP. He was commissioned into the Rifle Brigade in 1902. He fought in World War I as a River Transport Officer with the British Expeditionary Force and then served in France, Gallipoli, Salonika and Egypt. He was appointed Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles in 1927, Brigadier-General of the General Staff at Northern Command in India in 1930 and Director of Recruiting and Organisation at the War Office in 1934. His last appointment was as General Officer Commanding 3rd Division in 1936 before he retired in 1939.In retirement he became Governor and Commander-in-Chief Bermuda. While serving as Governor he had to consider proposals for American military bases there: these proposals were bitterly opposed by the local people at the time despite the war-time needs of the American military and he resigned at the request of the British Government in 1941 "to make way for a civilian." Bernard Park in Hamilton, Bermuda is named after him.[4] His family home was Castle Hacket House in Galway.
Rt. Hon. Viscount Knollys 1941-1943 
Rt. Hon. Lord Burghley 1943-1945  1943. August. Appointed as new Governor and Commander in Chief of Bermuda. David George Brownlow Cecil, Lord Burghley, 6th Marquis of Exeter. Young (38), straw-haired, a scion of the house of Cecil, which has furnished Britain with some of its most distinguished statesmen and soldiers. His father was the earlier Marquis of Exeter; from him it was expected that some day Lord Burghley would inherit enormous estates in Northamptonshire and Rutlandshire. His wife was a sister of the Duchess of Gloucester. He was a former Conservative Member of Parliament and a former British Olympian who competed in the 1924, 1928 and the 1932 Olympics where he won a silver medal in the 4x400 metre relay. His life story as an athlete was depicted in the epic 1981 film, Chariots of Fire, which won four Academy Awards, in which the character Lord Andrew Lindsay was based on the life of this Lord Burghley.
Admiral Sir Ralph Leatham 1946-1949 
Lt. Gen. Sir Alexander Hood 1949-1955 Born 25 September 1888, died 11 September 1980. GBE(1946) CBE(1939) KCB(1943) CB(1941) KCVO(1953) MB ChB Edin(1910) MD(1931) Hon FRCSE(1941) FRCP*(1944) DCL Durham(1945) LLD Edin(1945) Hon FRFPS Glasg (1947. Alexander Hood was born at Leith, Edinburgh, the son of Alexander Hood and Agnes Marshall (née Cunninghame). He was educated at Leith Academy, George Watson’s College, and Edinburgh University. After qualifying in 1910 he spent a year as house surgeon in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. In 1912 he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps serving with Indian troops in France and Belgium in the first world war, and immediately afterwards on the north-west frontier of India and in Afghanistan. Continuing as a regular officer he studied pathology, achieving specialist status in 1923. During the years 1922-1937 he served on the Rhine, in India and in Egypt, mainly as a pathologist, and is credited with introducing the Khan Test to the Army, and having performed original work on cerebrospinal meningitis and pneumonic plague. He became an MD of Edinburgh in 1931. He was called from his specialty to administration at an early stage to become ADMS (later DDMS) HQ British Forces in Palestine and Trans-Jordan 1937 -1939, and it was here that he gained such a reputation as an administrator that he was marked as a future director-general. His skill was also acknowledged by a CBE and mention in despatches. He did not wait long to assume the highest office. After service in France 1939—1940, in 1941 he was promoted from the substantive rank of colonel direct to that of lieutenant-general, passing over scores of his seniors to become director general of Army Medical Services for the remainder of the second world war. In this post Hood’s contribution to the war effort was significant and his work in directing the Army Medical Service towards prevention of disease and reduction of pain and suffering and disability, was a massive contribution of any doctor. He was of large commanding presence, powerful personality and of great intellect, dominating and bending to his will the few regulars and many distinguished civilians who formed his medical directorate team at the War Office. He obtained complete loyalty, and by delegating heavy responsibility extracted from all the greatest possible contribution. Thus no innovation or advance in medicine was neglected, but was rapidly examined for its relevance to field or hospital work. If his experts gave favourable opinions, Hood’s administrative and executive ability ensured the minimum time lag between discovery and practical application. A directorate of medical research was set up to cooperate with the Medical Research Council, and to assist and support its operational units. Hood decided, against many pressures, that research by doctors upon soldiers should be directed solely to promoting health and preventing and curing disease and alleviating injury in the individual. His guidelines remain for the use of, and have been applied by, his successors in office. He was extremely proud of his contributions to the United States Forces — how he assisted them on their first entry to the war, and the close collaboration he ensured with their medical leaders, to the benefit of both nations. Among his many achievements were the reorganization of field medical units; the provision of forward surgery on the field of battle; the organization of a first-class blood transfusion service; the rapid introduction of new chemotherapeutic agents, such as anti-malarials and antibiotics; and the placing of Army psychiatry on a sound basis. His success ensured that he held the appointment of DGAMS for three years after the war, but his dream of being the first head of a combined medical service for Navy, Army and Air Force was not realized. After a year in the Ministry of Health, Hood was appointed in 1949 Governor and Commander-in-Chief Bermuda, and his tenure was until 1955. In 1953 he acted as host to Churchill, Eden and President Eisenhower during their Bermuda conferences. He was a very fine golfer, being the RAMC champion; gaining an Army Championship trophy; and winning the coveted Queen Victoria Jubilee Vase of the Royal and Ancient Club, St Andrews, in 1953. His first marriage was to Evelyn Dulcia, daughter of George Ellwood of Kensington, with whom he had one son and two daughters. His second marriage was to Mrs Helen Winifred Wilkinson of Hamilton, Bermuda. He died in Bermuda.
Lt. Gen. Sir John Dane Woodall 1955-1959 In his service biography he was listed as having joined the Royal Artillery 1915 ; World War I 1915-1918; Gallipoli 1915 ; Staff Capt, Royal Artillery, Salonika and Black Sea 1918-1919; Deputy Assistant Adjutant General, Black Sea 1919 ; Staff Capt, Turkey 1919-1922; Deputy Assistant Adjutant General, Turkey 1922-1924; Instructor in Gunnery, Northern Command 1927-1929; Staff Officer, Royal Artillery, Western Command 1932-1934; Brigade Major, Royal Artillery, Malaya 1934-1936; Instructor, RAF Staff College, 1938 ; World War II 1939-1945; General Staff Officer Grade 1, General Headquarters, British Expeditionary Force (BEF) 1939-1940; Brig, General Staff 1940-1943; Regimental Commander, Royal Artillery 1943 ; Senior Air Staff Officer, Army Co-operation Command, RAF 1943-1944; Deputy Director of Staff Duties, War Office 1944-1946; Director of Manpower, War Office 1946-1949; Vice Adjutant General to the Forces 1949-1952; General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland 1952-1955; retired 1955 .
Maj. Gen. Sir Julian Gascoigne 1959-1964 
Rt. Hon. Lord Martonmere, GBE, KCMG, PC 1964-1972  His term was marked by the introduction of the Bermuda Constitution, the desegregation of schools and other social reforms as well as over a week of rioting. Under the Bermuda Constitution Order of 1968 the duties of the Governor were relegated to a largely ceremonial one, with responsibilities for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Internal Security. His term of office was extended at least twice so he could see the Constitutional changes through to the end. He built an impressive swimming pool at Government House with his own money. He and his wife Wendy, a Woolworth heiress, had 15 servants and after dinner Wendy used to tell women guests that she found soaking her diamonds in gin was the best way to keep them clean.
Sir Richard Sharples, KCMG, OBE, MC (assassinated) 1972-1973 He arrived in the last months of 1972 and during his five months in office he was the last Governor to preside over the Executive Council.  His term marked a sad footnote in Bermuda's history which would have repercussions for years to come. On March 10, 1973 he was ambushed and his aide Captain Hugh Sayers of the Welsh Guards and dog assassinated in Bermuda while in office while walking the dog, the Governor's great Dane Horsa. in the grounds of Government House. An informal dinner party for a small group of guests had just concluded. His Aide de Camp, a British Army officer, was also assassinated, as was the dog. The men were buried at St. Peter's Church in Bermuda. Born 6 August 1916, died 10 March 1973, he was educated at Eton College and Sandhurst Royal Military Academy and commissioned into the Welch Guards. Sharples was a British politician, shot dead by assassins linked to a small militant Bermudian Black Power group called the Black Beret Cadre. A former British Army lieutenant colonel in the elite Welch Guards until he left the army in 1953 to become a politician. Instead of becoming Minister of State for Northern Ireland in the autumn of 1972 Sharples was offered and accepted the Governorship of Bermuda, standing down from Parliament to do so. His murder would result in the last executions to be conducted under British rule anywhere in the world. He married Pamela in 1946; they had two sons and two daughters. The family greatly enjoyed yachting, and this was the basis of a close friendship with Edward Heath, later prime minister. Sharples was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for Sutton and Cheam in a 1954 by-election. After the 1970 general election, he served as Minister of State at the Home Office, before resigning his seat in 1972 to take up the position of Governor of Bermuda. His widow was subsequently made a life peer as Baroness Sharples. The Governor's coffin was borne by officers of the Bermuda Regiment, and his aide Sayer's by a party from the Welsh Guards. The coffins were carried atop 25 Pounder field guns of the Bermuda Regiment, to the Leander class frigate HMS Sirius, which was stationed at HM Dockyard Bermuda at the time. The ship's Royal Marines detachment provided an honour guard on the flight deck. HMS Sirius conveyed the bodies from Hamilton to St. George's, where they were interred at St. Peter's Church. After the assassination HMS Sirius provided enhanced security for the Senior Naval Officer West Indies (SNOWI) who was stationed on the island. The airborne company was subsequently posted to the Dockyard to guard SNOWI. Sharples was buried in the graveyard at St Peter's Church in St George's on 16 March 1973, six days after his assassination, with Captain Sayers and Great Dane, Horsa. Elements of the British Army's airborne forces, which were training at Warwick Camp with the Bermuda Regiment at the time of the murders, were called in to assist the civil authorities. The 23 Parachute Field Ambulance, 1 Parachute Logistic Regiment and the band of the 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment subsequently provided protection for Government buildings, officials and dignitaries as well as assisting the Bermuda Police. Police launched a massive manhunt and investigation. Eventually, in 1976, a petty criminal named Erskine Durrant "Buck" Burrows was arrested. He confessed to shooting dead Sharples and Sayers. At his trial he was also convicted of murdering the Bermuda Police commissioner George Duckett on 9 September 1972 and killing the co-owner and the bookkeeper of a supermarket in April 1973. A co-accused named Larry Tacklyn was acquitted of assassinating Sharples and Sayers but was convicted of killing Victor Rego and Mark Doe at the Shopping Centre supermarket in April 1973. Unlike Burrows, who did not care whether he was to be executed, Tacklyn expected to get a "last minute" reprieve. Both murderers remained in Casemates Prison while the appeals process for Tacklyn was brought before the House of Lords in London. During this time, it was reported that Tacklyn passed the time playing table tennis, while Burrows took a virtual vow of silence, only communicating his thoughts and requests on scraps of paper. Both men were hanged on 2 December 1977 at Casemates Prison. A moratorium on hanging was then in effect, and, although others had been sentenced to death in the intervening years, no one had been executed in Bermuda since the Second World War. Burrows and Tacklyn would be the last people to be executed under British rule anywhere in the world. Three days of rioting followed the executions. During the riots, the Bermuda Regiment proved too small to fulfill its role (which was considered by Major General Glyn Gilbert, the highest ranking Bermudian in the British Army, in his review of the regiment, leading to its increase from 400 soldiers to a full battalion of 750). As a consequence, at the request of the Bermuda Government, soldiers of the 1st Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers were flown in as reinforcements in the aftermath of the riots. The cost of the damages was estimated to be $2 million. The slain Governor's wife was created a Baroness by the British Government.
Sir Edwin Leather, KCMG, KCVO 1973-1977  A former Tory Member of Parliament in the UK, better known as the broadcaster Ted Leather  He was a former Chairman of the British Conservative Party. Bermudians referred to him as Lord Vinyl. He had a habit of playing the drums - uninvited - at nightclubs and singing Mack The Knife loudly at cocktail parties. His 4-year term of office was overshadowed by the trial and execution of the previous Governor's assassins, the disturbances following their hanging and the social and political upheavals which took place in the aftermath of those riots. 
The Hon. Sir Peter Ramsbotham, GCMG, GCVO 1977-1980  A former British Ambassador to Washington. He was summarily shunted to Bermuda after then-Prime Minister of the UK relieved him of his job in Washington, DC, in order to give it to his son-in-law Peter Jay. Ramsbotham was crestfallen at first, especially after being informed he would not be given a brand-new Governor's uniform, then priced at £1,750. But he ended up being one of Bermuda's popular Governors. He is understood to have used his continuing extensive contacts in the USA to facilitate tax treaty negotiations between then-Premier Sir David Gibbons and the USA on Bermuda's behalf.
Sir Richard Posnett, KBE, CMG 1980-1983  A Governor in various parts of the world ending with Bermuda Recalled to London before his term ended at the request of the Bermuda Government. He was investigated by Bermuda's Ministry of Finance and then the Foreign Office in London after alleged irregularities were discovered in the Government House accounts. There were allegations that in his three year period in office he had fiddled £15,000 worth of travel and entertainment expenses. Sir Richard stated he was completely innocent of any wrongdoing but resigned in March 1983 and returned to the UK. In his 2001 book The Scent of Eucalyptus. A Journal of Colonial and Foreign Service, with a foreword by David Owen. Sir Richard states he was unfairly treated by Bermuda's then Minister of Finance David Gibbons.
Viscount Dunrossil, CMG 1983-1988  A professional diplomat whose seat in the House of Lords and contacts in Whitehall and London's financial world were not only useful to the Bermuda Government during his tenure as Governor but continued since his retirement. He was one of the longest-serving Governors. He became an informal lobbyist for Bermuda through his role as chairman of the Society for the Friendship of Bermuda and Great Britain, now the Bermuda Society in London. Some Bermudians referred to him at Viscount Dunfossil. His term is particularly remembered by the local press for the occasion when he was persuaded by a mischievous and irreverent British Fleet Street newspaper photographer to pose resplendent in full Governor's uniform complete with cocked hat on the springboard of the swimming pool at Government House. The photographer had said it was only there that the light was just right. The Governor was terribly upset afterwards but locals thought it was highly amusing.
Major-Gen Sir Desmond Langley, KCVO, MBE 1988-1992  His family were wife Lady (Flick) Joan Langley, son Harry, daughter Charlotte and grandchildren, Oliver and Edward. Born in London in 1930, Sir Desmond was the son of the late Colonel Henry Langley, OBE and he was educated at Eton and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. He was commissioned into the Life Guards in 1949. He had a distinguished army career that took him to Germany, Aden, Egypt, Cyprus, Malaya, as well as Northern Ireland. He served as an Assistant Secretary in the Chiefs of Staff Secretariat in the Ministry of Defence from 1971 to 1972 and in 1979 he became Brigadier General Staff in Headquarters United Kingdom Land Forces. He is a 1978 graduate of the Royal College of Defence Studies and commanded the Life Guards from 1969 to 1971, the Household Cavalry, from 1972 to 1975, Fourth Guards Armoured Brigade from 1976 to 1977 and the London District and the Household Division from 1979 to 1983. His last military appointment was Administrator of Sovereign Base Areas and Commander of the British Forces Cyprus. He retired in 1986 with the rank of Major General. He was made an MBE in 1967 and a KCVO in 1983. He kept a low-key and benign profile in Bermuda but drew some heat from some local politicians for exercising the Prerogative of Mercy in commuting the death sentences of two other murderers and turning down an application by policemen who wanted the option of legal representation at disciplinary hearings.
The Rt Hon Lord Waddington, GCVO, PC, QC 1992-1997 David Lord Waddington105th Governor appointed by the Crown. His National Service military life  was with the Royal Armoured Corps in the Malayan Emergency. Later, he had very full public service as a politician and Minister. Whilst at the Home Office he was regularly dealing with immigration issues and paid visits to Commonwealth countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia and Canada. Political pressures to control immigration were intense and he had to grapple with individual cases where many families were stretching or abusing the regulations in order to enter this country. This was indeed largely a consequence of the post-imperial stage in Britain's history. His experience as a barrister and QC gave his speeches an added sharpness and clarity. He faced the hazards of politics by holding on to Nelson and Colne constituency as a Conservative MP from 1968 to 1974 but in 1979 returned to Parliament in the safer Conservative seat of Clitheroe. He rose rapidly in the Thatcher Government from the Whips Office, junior Minister for the Department of Employment, Minister of State Home Office, Chief Whip, Home Secretary and finally, under John Major, he became Leader of the House of Lords. He was fiercely loyal to Margaret Thatcher until she finally resigned as Prime Minister. As Governor of Bermuda for five years he enjoyed the experience. He very interested in the 70,000+ people of Bermuda and mixed with them in a relaxed fashion. He was sensitive to the mixed racial background on the Island and handled with care for example senior appointments in the police force. One issue that preoccupied him was the intense debate and proposal for a referendum on the independence of Bermuda. However he did face some difficulties with the Legislative Council when, at one stage, they even threatened to reduce his salary! Throughout his career he was supported by his wife Gilly. He later wrote a book, Memoirs, of his time in public service before, during and after his Bermuda Governorship. His book gives a very frank and colorful description of his life and above all his important responsibilities. It is regularly interspersed with the most amusing anecdotes and experiences.
Mr Thorold Masefield, CMG 1997-2002 
Sir John Vereker, KCB 2002-12 Oct 2007 
Sir Richard Gozney, KCMG 2007, December to May 2012
Mr George Fergusson 2012 to 2016. August 3.  He bade farewell to the island after a ceremony in Dockyard. Deputy Governor Ginny Ferson will serve as acting governor until a permanent replacement is announced.
Mr. John Rankin Since December 5, 2016 2016. December 5. Bermuda’s new Governor, John Rankin, was officially sworn in at a parade in King’s Square in St George’s this morning. After a march by Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers, a commission speech by Cabinet Secretary Derrick Binns, a prayer by the Right Reverend Nicholas Dill and an introduction by Michael Dunkley, the Premier, Mr Rankin said it was “a great honour to be appointed as Her Majesty the Queen’s representative as your Governor”.

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British Commonwealth of Nations

As there are other places with Commonwealths - for example, some American states - the phrase "British Commonwealth of Nations" distinguishes them from other commonwealths. British Commonwealth of Nations countries are in two categories:

Independent Commonwealth nations

Antigua and Barbuda; Australia; Bahamas; Bangladesh; Barbados; Belize; Botswana; Brunel Darussalam; Canada; Cyprus; Dominica; Gambia; Ghana; Grenada; Guyana; India; Jamaica; Kenya; Kiribati; Lesotho; Malawi; Malaysia; Maldives; Malta; Mauritius; Namibia; Nauru; New Zealand; Nigeria; Pakistan; Papua New Guinea; Samoa; Seychelle Islands; Sierra Leone; Singapore; Solomon Islands; South Africa; Sri Lanka; St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis; St. Lucia; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Swaziland; Tanzania; Tonga; Trinidad and Tobago; Tuvalu; Uganda; United Kingdom; Vanuatu; Western Samoa; Zambia; and Zimbabwe..

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British prices for petrol (gasoline)

Bermuda has followed the British system of extraordinarily high prices for petrol or gasoline. Costs are higher in Bermuda than they are in England and about the same as they are in Sutherland and Caithness in northern Scotland. On a per liter basis, the current price per liter or gallon is about 400 percent more than Americans pay, because of a very high Bermuda Government duty. 

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British products in Bermuda

Many are available, especially in books, clothing, food, shoes and Scotch whisky. But the latter in particular is very expensive if bought for local consumption, even more than in Britain. A United Kingdom magazine that costs 1.99 pounds sterling is US$ 5.99 in Bermuda. A 99 pence grocery item in the United Kingdom is US$ 2.99. The foreign exchange rate that has effectively devalued the US$ to which the Bermuda Dollar is pegged has made all British goods more expensive.

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British military connections

Bermuda Regiment

Royal Navy logoAt one time, British Army units were regularly based in Bermuda. - see British Army Units in Bermuda. They were there from 1776 to 1953 because Bermuda was then strategically important. When the USA and Great Britain were not firm allies, many areas were developed by British troops as forts. British military artists painted scenes of changes. They included Thomas Driver, E.G. Hallewell and Gaspar Le Merchant Tupper. Once, more than two thirds of Bermuda's Devonshire Parish alone was held by British troops. The last unit to serve before the British Army Command in Bermuda was withdrawn in 1953 was the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. 

The Old Town was once a garrison town for British troops. Until 1954, they were also at Fort Prospect in Devonshire Parish. Britain once had a huge Royal Naval Dockyard and also built a protective ring of British forts in Bermuda. It provided employment and training for thousands of Bermudians. An active Royal Artillery Association club is in the City of Hamilton and at Barrack Hill, St. George's and there are also an active local Royal Naval Association and an active Royal Air Force Association Club.

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British Agencies in Aviation, Banking, Culture, Finance, Insurance and Shipping

Imperial Airways (now British Airways) began in 1937 the Britain Bermuda commercial aviation links continued today. Other assistance from the United Kingdom includes political and technical advice on matters such as aviation (and bargaining power in this particular respect) for the Bermuda Aircraft Register - an arm of the United Kingdom's Aircraft Register; economic zones, the Bermuda Shipping Register - an arm of the British Shipping Register and offshore fishing. Ships registered as British on the Bermuda Shipping Register sail under the protection of the Royal Navy during periods of strife in international waters such as the Persian Gulf.

The many close business ties with the United Kingdom help maintain the confidence of the international community in the integrity of Bermuda's financial institutions. The Governor of the Bank of England visits Bermuda periodically. Personnel frequently advise the Bermuda Government's Ministry of Finance. Many long established British organizations have branches in Bermuda. Typical of these are the Bermuda Branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society, the St. John's Ambulance Brigade, and a number of business related professional entities.

Freemasons in Britain also have close links with Bermuda.

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British civic Honours

Civil Servants always get the top awards. Although it is the Queen who officially bestows the honours, to commemorate her annual official birthday and at New Year, the list is based on recommendations from the Premier of Bermuda, who in turn receives the names from civil servants in the Cabinet Office's ceremonial secretariat. In contrast, in Britain, The Cabinet Office has reviewed the structure and membership of honours committees. It provides greater transparency and a greater independent input to the honours process while protecting the confidentiality of individual honours candidates and recipients, and of members of the assessment committees. Business people, sportsmen and women, entertainers, broadcasters  and more get a fair share of honours.

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British tourism office

In the UK, there is a Bermuda Government's Department of Tourism representative in London.

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British resources available to Bermuda Government and public

Available to the Bermuda Government on a continuous basis for advice when requested are the resources of all British Government departments in London. And, in the USA, Canada and all other parts of the world, British Embassies or Consulates serve the interests of visiting Bermudians, and represent Bermuda to nationals of their jurisdictional hosts. Bermuda accedes to international treaties via the United Kingdom and, when appropriate, can act directly, with the United Kingdom's blessing and back-up.

Visits to London by Bermuda Government Cabinet Ministers have proved valuable to Bermuda, especially when the United Kingdom's experience in a variety of fields is helpful to the Bermuda Government in situations involving the potential introduction of new policies. Many Bermudian civil servants over the years have been trained in the United Kingdom. Bermuda's British links provide Bermuda with pomp and ceremony on appropriate occasions. Even those who want political independence for Bermuda have agreed it helps bring in visitors.

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Thousands of British United Kingdom nationals live and work in Bermuda. They are welcome but are treated as foreigners. Bermudians do not regard themselves as British - despite this being their only official nationality - but as Bermudian. Britons - those from Great Britain - do not have the same freedoms here in residing and working without restrictions as they have in Great Britain, Ireland and rest of the European Economic Community. Britons visiting Bermuda on business or vacation or as professional newcomers cannot get Bermuda citizenship or vote or buy real estate at the same price as Bermudians - unless they marry Bermudians. Any children born here are not Bermudian unless one parent is Bermudian, so they cannot apply for any local scholarships or grants for further education abroad (but have, as non-citizens, been conscripted into the Bermuda Regiment). Many parents and grown children have been on restrictive Work Permits for more than 20 years. If as expatriates they marry a Bermudian spouse, they must wait for 10 years to get Bermudian status and pay a hefty fee. In contrast, Bermudians can apply for a UK passport, get full United Kingdom and European citizenship immediately they get the passport and live, work, vote and buy any property they wish there. This one-sided arrangement was a British Government decision taken without any referendum from the British people.

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Commonwealth Foundation

An inter-governmental organization with a mandate to support the work of the non-Governmental sector in the Commonwealth.

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Commonwealth Games

Bermuda always sends a contingent, members of which perform creditably.

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Commonwealth Institute

An independent pan-Commonwealth agency based in London. The Institute's mission is to promote the modern Commonwealth through education and cultural programs.

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Commonwealth Press Union (CPU) Media Trust

Principally via Bermuda's Royal Gazette, a long term member of the CPU, Bermuda has excellent press Internet and print links with the rest of the Commonwealth.

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Commonwealth Secretariat

The main inter-governmental agency of the Commonwealth and office of the Secretary-General.

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Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme

Thousands of young Bermudians have participated in and received benefits from activities connected with the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. One was a massive clean-up and rehabilitation of the Bermuda National Trust's Long Island Cemetery for South African Boers captured by British Army troops during the Boer War and shipped to Bermuda for internment as prisoners of war. Many died in Bermuda.

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Hurricanes and weather reporting

Bermuda follows the American pattern, not the British.

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Bermudians who travel to the UK for longer than six months and do not have a British passport (which all Bermudians are entitled to get but not all want) must obtain a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). The BRP card is a credit-card sized immigration document that contains a secure embedded chip. Fingerprints and a digital photo within the chip contain biometrics unique to each individual. The BRP provides evidence of the holder’s immigration status in the UK. It can be used as proof of right to work, study and access public services in the UK. Bermudians possessing a British Citizen Passport will not be impacted by the change. “As before, Bermuda passport holders will be able to travel to the UK for up to six months without a visa but, if they want to stay longer, they need to get a BRP.

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Queen's Birthday Parade in June and New Year's Awards

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has her real birthday in April, but her official birthday is celebrated in June. Until 2008 it was an official Bermuda Public Holiday but no longer (nor is it in the UK). On that day, there is a formal military parade held in the city of Hamilton, led by the Governor and Premier and open to the general public. The Bermuda Regiment marches down Front Street in full dress regalia with cannons firing and the Regimental Band playing. On behalf of the Queen, the Governor, decked out in his ostrich plumed hat of office, accepts a General Salute from the Queen's soldiers as they do a slow, musical march past. Other organized bands - like the Bermuda Islanders Pipes & Drums Band - and groups join in. If there is a Royal Navy ship in port, she's alongside, decked out, with her sailors in white shorts, accompanied by a Royal Marines band.

In the afternoon, the Governor hosts the Queen's Birthday Tea at Government House. Also, the Queen's Birthday Honors are announced a few days ahead of time, based on recommendations made to the Queen by the Cabinet Office of the Bermuda Government. Periodically, a Knighthood is awarded locally, or a Companion, Officer or Member of the British Empire. These more prestigious awards invariably go to serving or retired Bermuda Government legislators or civil servants. Lesser awards include the Queen's Certificate and Badge of Honor which, since May 2012 in the UK have now been replaced by the British Empire Medal. In recent years, the number of Bermudians recommended for these honors seems to have gotten smaller and smaller.

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Remembrance Day in November

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Also see under Bermuda Government.

 Absentee voting at general elections - in the same way absentee voting is not only allowed but encouraged in the USA, Canada, United Kingdom and Europe has has been for some time - is not permitted in Bermuda.  


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Bermuda Online

Authored, researched, compiled and website-managed by Keith A. Forbes.
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