Paradise isles' former PM to fight British rule

Turks and Caicos politician at the centre of corruption allegations is to mount High Court appeal against suspension of the constitution

A flamboyant and controversial former prime minister at the centre of a corruption probe has launched a legal challenge against a decision by the Foreign Office to impose direct rule on one of Britain's remaining overseas territories.

Michael Misick has appealed against a decision to suspend the constitution of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) and impose direct rule from London following the publication of a damning report into corruption in the Caribbean islands. The appeal, set to be heard in the High Court next month, also challenges a move by the Foreign Office to suspend trials by jury.

The legal fight spread to London after the publication of an official inquiry report chaired by the former High Court judge Sir Robin Auld, which concluded that there was "information in abundance pointing to a high probability of systemic corruption and/or serious dishonesty".

The report found "clear signs of political amorality and immaturity, and of general administrative incompetence" and recommended criminal investigations be launched against Mr Misick and four other ministers.

Mr Misick, who the report suggests built up a multimillion-dollar fortune between his election in 2003 and resignation in March, is at the centre of corruption allegations. The inquiry heard repeated claims that he and other ministers sold off Crown Land to property developers for personal gain.

Hearings were told of lavish spending by Mr Misick, including a luxury beachfront mansion, the use of private jets and a leased Rolls-Royce for his estranged wife, the hip hop music star and Hollywood actress LisaRaye McCoy-Misick. Mrs McCoy-Misick has since filed for divorce, citing her husband's infidelity with a stripper and his support for a second family in Miami.

Full details of the corruption claims emerged last week after the inquiry's report was accidentally published. The Auld commission published a censored copy of its report after two businessmen who featured prominently sought legal injunctions to prevent it naming them. However, the islands' chief justice revoked the ban preventing reporting of the full findings after it became clear that visitors to the website of the islands' Governor, Gordon Wetherell, were able to decipher material that had been inadequately blacked out.

Mr Misick, who denies any wrongdoing, is trying to fight back. During a stormy debate in the islands' parliament last month he condemned the Governor as a "racist dictator" and called for national unity "to fight the British common enemy".

While the Auld inquiry has been broadly welcomed, there has been widespread criticism of the FCO's decision to partially suspend the constitution and rule directly through the Governor, who is being supported by a team of expert advisers flown in. The decision to suspend jury trials for people accused of political corruption has been particularly criticised across the Caribbean.

Samuel Harvey, a former TCI minister, said: "The most serious charge the British have levelled against this administration is the one of systemic corruption. However, the problem goes deeper than that. The veritable fabric of our culture has been damaged. We have our own people doubting that we can rule ourselves."

Mr Harvey said he was unhappy at the way Britain was handling the situation. "Make no mistake, I also hold the British responsible. They have always had a sitting governor here. It would have been an easy fix had they been paying attention. The people know, and God knows, the opposition party has been speaking out. But our cries for fairness and balance fell on deaf ears."

Opposition leaders said they repeatedly protested to the Governor and the former Foreign Office minister Meg Munn about allegations of corruption but were ignored. In frustration, they approached members of the foreign affairs select committee who highlighted the scandal, noting "a palpable climate of fear" on the islands. This led to the setting up of the Auld commission.

Sensitive to allegations of "modern-day colonialism", Colin Roberts, a senior Foreign Office official, told islanders recently that, "even though it is an extremely serious move to suspend the constitution, that is the only appropriate way of dealing with the seriousness of the wrongdoing that appears to have taken place in the Turks and Caicos."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all