The Tillman Thomas-led government in St. George’s has branded as “mischievous” a report appearing in CARIBUPDATE that it has fired the island’s Honorary Consul General in New York, Derrick James.
According to the report dated, December 4, 2012, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Thomas took a decision on Monday to do away with the services of James who has occupied the position since the National Democratic Congress (NDC) came to office in July 2008.
The media outfit, formed by Miami-based Grenadian journalist, Hamlet Mark quoted reliable sources in the government as saying that the administration decided to give James the boot because “he is not in tune with the current objectives of the administration.”
“James was first nominated by former Foreign Affairs Minister Peter David,
and the current advisors to Prime Minister Thomas have in recent months consistently expressed reservations about him being retained”, the report said.
However, a government official who spoke to THE NEW TODAY described the Caribupdate news item as “quite misleading”.
He admitted that a problem arose with James’ appointment to the position after it was officially raised by the United States since the Honorary Consul is a U.S citizen.
“This thing really started with the U.S government. James did a good job in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy. The Americans were asking questions about him and in going through his files, they realised that he was a U.S citizen who was serving in the position for us”, he said.
“They were not happy with a U.S citizen occupying that position. This was something that should have been regularised a long time ago. The Prime Minister did issue instructions at the level of Cabinet for Derek’s appointment to be regularised and the former Foreign Minister Peter David was the one who had to do it”, he added.
According to the source, the Prime Minister was informed by Minister David at meetings of Cabinet that there was precedent for such an appointment to be made since other islands within the OECS sub-regional grouping had found themselves in a similar position.
He said the decision to look for a new person to serve in the position has nothing to do with perceptions in some quarters that James is a close political associate of David who along with ten others was expelled as members of Congress on September 30.
The source stated that the records will show the appointment of James as Grenada’s Honorary Consul in New York was never fully attended to adequately by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S government objected to him serving in that capacity.
He spoke of the latest objection being brought to the attention of Grenada’s ambassador to the United States, Gillian Bristol who is based in Washington, D.C.
The source disclosed that the Thomas government in St. George’s is presently looking for alternative employment for James whose contract in the position will soon come to an end.
He said that an employee at the island’s New York mission to the United Nations is being considered to act in the position until the holding of general elections on the island.
The Caribupdate report said that James was to have been officially informed of the decision Tuesday to remove him from the post following Monday’s Cabinet meeting where the matter of his status was discussed.
Caribupdate indicated that it is not clear who is likely to replace James, but an executive member of Congress in the New York Chapter “was long hailed as a likely successor.
The government issued the following statement late Tuesday on the Derek James situation:
“It has become necessary for the Government of Grenada to bring to an end the purported appointment of Mr. Derek James as Consul General, which is inconsistent with United States law and standard Diplomatic and Consular practices.
The fact that Mr. James is a United States citizen renders him ineligible to be appointed to the position of Consul General. His citizenship would properly allow him only an appointment as Honorary Consul.
The Government of Grenada has been aware of these circumstances for some time, and in the wake of the US State Department’s most recent representation on the matter has no alternative but to bring an end to Mr. James’ purported appointment.
Government wishes to make it clear that it has not given any consideration to a replacement for Mr. James, who has served Grenada admirably in the role since 2008. In fact government intends to dialogue with Mr. James as to how he may be of continued service to Grenada.
Accordingly, statements, accusations and other forms of misinformation now being peddled are designed to mislead the public”.