St. George’s, December 7, 2012 – One of the factors the Grenada government claims underlined its decision to dismiss its consul general in New York has been brought into a question by the contract Derrick James signed with the NDC administration in 2010.
A government statement – which has been repeated in remarks from Prime Minister Tillman Thomas and Chief of Staff William Joseph – said that James was fired because his “purported appointment’’ as consul general was “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.’’
However, high level government sources in St. George’s say that following up on a cabinet decision the then Foreign Affairs Minister, Peter David, had directed his staff on the appointment of James as honorary consul general to New York.
A contract agreement was drawn up and signed by James and Gemma Bain-Thomas, acting on behalf of government.
Quoting from the contract, one source read a paragraph that said “the government shall employ the officer (James) and the officer shall serve the government in the post of honorary consul general, Consulate of Grenada in New York, Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a period of two years with effect from 2nd November 2010.’’
A contract reminder, the source said, was later sent to James in March 2011 by permanent secretary Elizabeth Henry-Greenidge.
The memo makes reference to James’ appointment as “honorary consul general, Consulate of Grenada in New York, on a contract basis for a period of two years with effect from November 2, 2010.’’
In a press briefing on Thursday, cabinet secretary Bain-Thomas emphasized the matter of James’ accreditation.
The important thing, she said, “is the fact he was not accredited’’ and that government had reviewed the situation and decided on appointing a consul general that would be “properly accredited.’’
“It is necessary to regularize the status,’’ Bain-Thomas said.
Since Grenada’s independence in 1974, the majority of its consuls general in New York have been US citizens.
“As honorary consuls general, fundamentally the only thing we couldn’t do was sign documents to the American State Department. That was taken care of by previous governments by appointing someone to administration at the consulate,’’ one former diplomat said.