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Cronyism? ‘Boris’ gives ‘Gus’ a job as interim head of ‘Delivery Unit’

Cronyism? ‘Boris’ gives ‘Gus’ a job as interim head of ‘Delivery Unit’

The controversial ex-governor of the Virgin Islands, Augustus J. U. Jaspert aka ‘Gus’, has landed a civil service job in the United Kingdom (UK) through his embattled Prime Minister, the pro-colonialist Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson aka ‘Boris’.

Jaspert, who was accused of trying to bully the democratically elected government of the Virgin Islands (VI) as well as the legislature, was also accused of trying to put a strain on the relationship between the government and the electorates.

He had reportedly received much push back from the Andrew A. Fahie-led Government, compared to the ‘weak’ National Democratic Party (NDP) Government, which allegedly caused a breakdown in the relationship with Premier Fahie.

Mr Jaspert; however, responded secretly by scheming with the Boris-led Government and the UK press to announced a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) mere days before he exited the territory in January 2021.

Jaspert given job by Boris


Now comes news that Mr Jaspert has been drafted in by Johnson as interim head of the new Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit.

The appointment was made in April 2021, according to Civil Service World.

Johnson’s official spokesman had announced that the unit was being created to provide “the strongest possible approach” to support the successful delivery of the government’s agenda, based on the recommendations of a review by Sir Michael Barber.

Some local political pundits are now questioning whether this is another form of alleged cronyism by Johnson, who has been heaped with allegations of cronyism, corruption, dishonesty and mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in the death of thousands in Britain.

After Hurricane Irma had struck the Virgin Islands in September 2017, Johnson had visited the VI in his capacity as Foreign Secretary and was personally shown around the islands by Jaspert.

It should be noted too that current governor John J. Rankin, CMG, who also supports the controversial CoI, had also travelled to the VI and met with Jaspert.

A fight for power!


The first thing Mr Jaspert did after the Hurricanes of 2017 was to take over the VI, using the constitution to enact his state of emergency powers.

It made the then elected National Democratic Party (NDP) Government useless.

In December 2020, while debating the Disaster Management Act, 2021 in the House of Assembly (HoA), the former Minister for Communications and Works under the NDP regime, Honourable Mark H. Vanterpool (R4) confessed that the Smith-Administration was rendered powerless immediately after the September 2017 hurricanes, once former Governor Jaspert took over under the state of emergency powers.

Four months after the hurricanes, when the local people showed their usual skills and resilience to clean up the islands and there were signs of things getting back to normal, the British Press called the former Governor Jaspert a “hero” for his alleged role after the storms.

A ‘zero’ to many Virgin Islanders


However, in the spirit of transparency, the British press with their spin failed to say that all subjects under the Governor’s responsibilities—police, prisons and disaster management—had failed the people.

There was widespread looting following the hurricanes; costing millions of dollars to residents and businesses, because of a breakdown in police security.

Further, all prisoners, including some accused of murder, escaped from Her Majesty’s Prison and were roaming the streets from Virgin Gorda to Jost van Dyke for weeks, placing the public at risk.

Then there was mixed information coming out from the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) on the direction of Hurricane Irma in particular and its possible impact on the islands.

However, no one was held accountable for this, as no Commission of Inquiry (CoI) was launched over these gross failures.

Not only did the former Governor Jaspert take over the Government of the NDP after the hurricanes, but it seemed he believed he was elected and started to behave like an elected official; holding press conferences, meeting with senior civil servants, and Heads of Departments, making public announcements on policies and sidelining the NDP, even after the VI was no longer in a state of emergency.

Held NDP Hostage


There were some financial mismanagement challenges of public funds under the NDP with a $55M over-run on the ports projects that Mr Jaspert, a UK-appointed Governor, inherited.

Also, there was a small wall around a Road Town high school costing taxpayers over a million dollars, and a plane with a $7.2M price tag that the Smith-Administration had engineered and paid out all the monies; however, the airline never fulfilled its requirement to provide direct flights from Miami in the USA to the Virgin Islands.

The Ex-Governor used that to hold the NDP Government hostage and, according to many close to the situation, made threats to former Premier Dr D. Orlando Smith about the “powers” he had as Governor.

Election of 2019


With the General election of February 2019, the people chose a new Government in the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) led by Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1). The controversial ‘Gus’ reportedly did not expect the VIP to win and was not sure how to deal with the new administration, knowing he had nothing on them.

However, he started out by being hesitant to swear-in the constitutionally elected Government with Hon Fahie as Premier, even after all members on the VIP team who were elected signed a letter naming Hon Fahie as their leader and supporting him as Premier.

He was allegedly forced to swear him in by the FCO, according to someone who was familiar with the situation.

Then came 2020 with a global COVID-19 pandemic. The former Governor Jaspert seemingly saw this as his big chance to regain the public trust and started out by undermining all efforts of the Local Government.

He wanted to declare a state of emergency but it was rejected by Cabinet since the Public Health Act of 1977 gave the local Minister for Health the power to address a pandemic.

He reportedly fought the Government almost daily and wanted to be on the stage with the public updates, and all announcements and at one time, according to a Government Information Service Officer with knowledge of the situation, he allegedly almost physically assaulted the Honourable Premier just to speak first at one of the weekly COVID-19 press conferences.

Double standards?


As scandals continued in the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF), a subject of the ex-governor, he did not slow down.

While police officers were being accused by local courts of being involved in drug sale and distribution, as well as alleged police brutality, the public heard nothing from ‘Gus’ short of a press conference to announce a drug bust.

He used the time to label the Territory as “corrupt” and when a similar drug bust with more cocaine was found in the UK, he turned a blind eye to that.

Reckless Jaspert?


Mr Jaspert was also accused of having no regard for law and order or the constitution of the VI. He continued to violate the VI Constitution as he had his own interpretation that favoured him getting more power and not respecting the Premier and Cabinet.

The perceived disrespect also affected the HoA, with the Governor failing to get reports to it on time. A senior Member of the HoA, Hon Julian Fraser (R3), even brought a motion to reprimand him.

The controversial Ex-Governor continued to have no regard for the Legislative branch and refused to assent to many bills passed by the Parliament, usually with bogus excuses as to why the bills were not signed.

Those matters were never raised in Cabinet, according to someone familiar with the matter.

‘Gus’ pushed for many UK nationals to be hired with huge salaries at the local Recovery and Development Agency (RDA), some of them his friends, while locals were out of work.

Yet it seems he did not see that as corruption or lack of good governance.

CoI an act of revenge?


However, three days before he left the Territory a broken man because he could not get to take over and impose direct rule, he called for a CoI based on gossip and rumours.

Most residents see the CoI as “revenge”, according to calls, emails and blogs to our news centre and is even in violation of the CoI Act, where a report on a specific matter would have had to be laid from the Auditor General or the HoA Public Accounts Committee.

Persons had also questioned whether he was racist due to insensitive comments about slavery and supporting that all symbols of slavery and white supremacy remain in the Territory”, a situation that sparked outrage.

Some have alleged that Mr Jaspert left in disgrace without even offering an apology as demanded by the public for the hurt and insensitive words that were used in regards to slavery and reparation.

The Boris Johnson led UK Government, through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, had stood by the upsetting comments made by Mr Jaspsert.

Many political pundits and observers have said they were not surprised as Johnson himself has been accused of being racist and imperialist, having said colonialism in Africa should never have ended and downplayed Britain’s role in the slave trade.

Ex- Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert, left, had allegedly fought the Government of the Virgin Islands almost daily and wanted to be on the stage with the public updates, and all announcements and at one time, according to a Government Information Service Officer with knowledge of the situation, he almost physically assaulted the Honourable Premier, Andrew A. Fahie (R1), centre, just to speak first at one of the weekly COVID-19 press conferences.

Persons had also questioned whether Augustus J. U. Jaspert was racist due to insensitive comments about slavery and supporting that all symbols of slavery and white supremacy remain in the Territory, a situation that sparked outrage.

Some local political pundits are now questioning whether the providing of Augustus J. U. Jaspert with a top job is another form of alleged cronyism by Boris Johnson, who has been heaped with allegations of cronyism, corruption, dishonesty and mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in the death of thousands in Britain.

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