‘Utter confusion’ at London’s High Commission for Grenada

Uncertainty surrounds the significance of Grenada’s High Commission in London, after months without a High Commissioner and staff unsure what the future holds.

And one source believes the situation is at odds with the Grenadian government’s claims that they are presiding over a healthy economy.

The British capital has long been regarded as an important place for nations to have a presence, which acts as a stepping stone into continental Europe.

This is especially true for Grenada, whose tourism authority report their visitor numbers are boosted by European travellers.

But despite this, there has been no High Commissioner for nine months after Karl Hood suddenly returned home to Grenada in January 2017.

This is at a time when a lot of Eastern Caribbean countries are expanding their diplomatic links and opening new embassies.

No official word has come from Prime Minister Keith Mitchell’s administration on Hood’s removal.
One source close to Hood – who asked not to be named for fear of upsetting government officials – told WIC News that the former ambassador went back to the Caribbean island after he was told there was no money to pay the rent on his London property.

Hood was said to be “definitely unhappy” about the decision not to extend his contract, especially as he had made a high-profile shift across party lines prior to the 2013 general election.

Political figures in Grenada have spoken on growing tension between Hood and the Prime Minister and the ruling New National Party.

Earlier this year, Grenadian news outlets began reporting that Akima Paul-Lambert, a lawyer based in London, has been approved by the cabinet to become the new High Commissioner.

The role, which she would be given for two years, is officially known as the High Commissioner to the Court of St James. She was also to be made non-resident ambassador to the Holy See, or the Vatican City state.

Crucially, it was announced that Hood’s replacement wasn’t going to be taking a salary.

Although some described this revelation as “patriotic”, others were left bewildered as to how an important full-time role could be held on a voluntary basis.

But the fanfare of articles was premature, and Akima Paul-Lambert did not take the role – and staff at the High Commission are unsure what is going on.

A WIC News reporter visited the High Commission in west London last month to speak to staff.

One worker said that they “were not sure what the plan was” regarding an ambassador being based in the city.

The High Commission was contacted again this week, and they confirmed that although a Charge d’ affaires – Samuel Sandy – is in place, no ambassador has been appointed.

WIC News has repeatedly tried to contact the government for a comment on this but has had no response from the official channels.

Nazim Burke, leader of the de facto opposition National Democratic Congress, said that there is a “cloud of secrecy” surrounding the High Commission in London.

“It’s a matter of costs and priorities. If you consider London to be important then you have to decide whether you are going to find the money to operate there,” he said.

“Some of the cash that has been spent (by the government) wildly and loosely heading into the election campaign could have been used to maintain an office and preserve a relationship with the United Kingdom, and use that as the gateway to the rest of Europe.

“What you’re seeing there is political selfishness, that is what is driving the government’s attitude.

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