Sun | Jul 5, 2020

Editorial | Natural justice goes for Dave Cameron, too

Published:Thursday | May 28, 2020 | 12:00 AM

THIS NEWSPAPER isn't enamoured of Dave Cameron. In fact, we felt that he had long overstayed his time when, 14 months ago, he lost the presidency of Cricket West Indies (CWI) to Ricky Skerritt, after six years in the post. Mr Cameron was too arrogant by half.

We, however, believe in fairness and natural justice, including for Dave Cameron. In that regard, decency demands that CWI should, forthwith, cause Mr Cameron to receive a copy of the audit of the organisation's management and operations during Mr Cameron's tenure, which was done by the international consulting firm Pannell Kerr Foster (PKF). The cricket board's and its president's unseemly dithering on the matter appears, from this distance, designed to hang and quarter Mr Cameron by innuendo. We want to be proved wrong.

Of course, it is any organisation's right and, in some cases, obligation, to review how it handled its affairs in the past. That, sometimes, requires a forensic probe of the conduct of past managers. Usually, though, especially when adverse determinations are likely to be made against the former executives, they are given a chance to provide exculpatory explanations, and supporting documentation, if these exist, for their actions or behaviour.

Judging from the reporting on the PKF document, which was apparently leaked to journalist(s) outside the Caribbean, the consultants found much that was wrong, if not worse, with the financial management and accountability at CWI during Mr Cameron's presidency.

There is nothing wrong with such a conclusion if it is supported by the facts.

Indeed, Mr Skerritt has said that CWI, the governing body for cricket in the Caribbean, will act on the report, which, he said, "uncovered some illustrations of questionable executive standards and practices".

According to Mr Skerritt, the report was prepared for internal use only, suggesting that he was unaware of how it found its way into the public domain.

What, however, is surprising about the affair is Mr Cameron's declared ignorance of the PKF report until, he said, he was approached by journalists to comment on its findings. If Mr Cameron's claim is true, he was obviously not asked by PKF to account for the "questionable executive standards and practices". Neither does it appear that he was approached, either by his successor or any current executive of CWI, to cooperate with the review. The acrimonious campaign between Mr Cameron and Mr Skerritt for the CWI presidency should not have precluded such a request, unless his was to be, in part, a 'gotcha' exercise.

Mr Cameron, through his lawyers, has requested a copy of the PKF report, without prejudice to any right of action for defamation or any other damage arising from the documents, or public comments thereon. But Dave Cameron's primary wish, the lawyers say, is to be able to respond to allegations made against him. Which, to us, seems fair.

Mr Skerritt's responses are curious, especially the one about need to seek permission from PKF. We assume that it was in fact Mr Skerritt who commissioned the report; that PKF didn't do the assignment gratis; and that ownership of the document resides with the CWI. Further, there is Mr Skerritt's story that he must await a full meeting of the CWI's board for a decision on Mr Cameron's request. That, at best, looks a canard.

A public release of the report, or handing it to Mr Cameron, is fully within Mr Skerritt's executive authority. Or, if required, he could easily round-robin directors, rather than await a formal meeting a near fortnight later.

If there are issues for which Dave Cameron should be held to account, in whatever fora, we are all for it. Public officials, which is what Mr Cameron was, must be open to scrutiny, and any penalties - public opprobrium or otherwise - which may flow from their "questionable " standards and practices?.

But natural justice requires that they have a fair shot at refuting the allegations - whatever we may think about them.