British Virgin Islands

Monday, Mar 01, 2021

From Hero to Zero; Controversial Jaspert departed VI a broken man!

From Hero to Zero; Controversial Jaspert departed VI a broken man!

A young British civil servant by the name of Augustus J. U. Jaspert aka ‘Gus' was appointed to the post of Governor of the Virgin Islands (VI) some 16 days before Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 killer storm, devastated the Territory in September 2017.

He demitted his post on Saturday, January 23, 2021, when he left the Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport, after being recalled by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

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.

Last month, 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 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.

The Ex-Governor's pal Michael B. Mathews, a UK National, is the head of the RVIPF so ‘Gus” seemingly turned a blind eye to the instability of the police force under his watch.

To date, no one in the top brass of the Police, Prison or the Ex-Governor has been held accountable.

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.

The Ex-Governor found time to violate free speech by commenting negatively on an online news site cartoon that most had said they saw nothing wrong with the context, in which he had his feet on the neck of a local pastor, his number one critic.

‘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.

Jaspert left a broken man


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.

Finally, a ‘Janette’ who lives in Belmont Estate on the Western End of Tortola and did not want her full name to be used, claimed that “many believed he was a racist for 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.

Like Donald J. Trump- whom many compared him to- leaving the ‘White House” in January 2021 with a riot and insurrection on the US Capital, many have said Mr Jaspert left the VI with a bogus CoI, where he coordinated and collaborated with the British press to undermined the VI, based on rumours and gossip.

Let’s see if the new Governor designate can set a new tone and respect the people and constitution of the VI.


Ex- Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert, left, 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.


The British press has 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, and neither the Governor nor the police force have been held accountable.


As scandals continued in the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, a subject of the ex-governor, with police officers 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 announced a drug bust.


As scandals continued in the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, a subject of the ex-governor, with police officers 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 announced a drug bust.


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 after Hurricane Irma ravaged the Virgin Islands, placing the public at risk. Many have said if the Prison was secured ahead of the hurricane, there would not have been any escapes. The Ex-Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert was never held to account for this lapse.


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