Commonwealth leaders could oust the general secretary in an explosive row on Friday

Baroness Scotland was Commonwealth Secretary-General for six years – but could be ousted on Friday after the UK government backed an attempt to oust her

Prince Charles with Baroness Scotland
Prince Charles with Baroness Scotland

Commonwealth leaders are poised to oust the organisation’s secretary-general, Baroness Scotland, in an extraordinary international standoff on Friday.

Britain has backed a bid to put Jamaica’s Foreign Secretary Kamina Johnson Smith in the place of the British counterpart at behind-closed-doors talks in Rwanda.

Each side accuses the other of a bitter briefing war over the Dominican-born former Labor Attorney General, who headed the secretariat for six years.

British officials are understood to believe she has failed to provide effective and unified leadership and the campaign to have her re-elected has been divisive as misinformation about her record has been circulated.

Sources also say she has racked up more than £600,000 in labor court costs.

A fresh row erupted today after it was revealed that a report on the Commonwealth Secretariat’s long-term finances had been withheld from its board.

A Patricia Scotland ally said she was the victim of a briefing war, adding: “It’s like trying to burn the house down and asking why someone else isn’t putting out the fire.”



Chief Governor Kevin Isaac, High Commissioner of St Kitts and Nevis in London, branded the decision an “affront” in a leaked letter.

However, a Commonwealth source close to the colleague claimed the court costs were years old and the report had inaccuracies, including false names.

The source told the Mirror: “The Foreign Office has been reporting for six years that she’s trying to divide people – and then comes back and says she’s been divisive.

“It’s like trying to burn down the house and wondering why isn’t someone else putting out the fire.”

Boris Johnson wrote to the Commonwealth Nations in 2020 asking for opinions on its leadership and there was no consensus that it should stay, government sources claim.

But a source close to the Baroness hit back: “When this issue was last addressed in 2020, the Secretary-General had a clear majority and Boris Johnson declined direct requests from member states to disclose the number of states he had received objections.”

Labor former Solicitor General Baroness Scotland


Karl Hof)

A spokesman for the Secretariat added that the auditors’ report was “delayed and when we received the final version we raised factual and other concerns with the consultant about the draft received.

“We still have concerns and are therefore seeking external advice to protect the Secretariat’s position as contract manager.

“We hope to resolve the matter hopefully amicably as soon as possible.”

There are three candidates for the post of Secretary General, with Sir Iakoba Taeia Italeli of Tuvalu also running for the post.

Commonwealth leaders will decide in a secret meeting where they will conduct a straw poll to cut candidates and then have to come to a consensus.

British officials are confident Ms Smith will take the top job.

Other Commonwealth figures doubt this, however, as African nations were due to appoint a secretary-general on a regional rotation from 2024 onwards.

A source claimed: “Kamina Johnson Smith needs to bring Africa to win and they won’t vote until 2030 to strip themselves of the position.”

The shadowy “straw poll” process could be the last of its kind, and leaders are expected to adopt rule changes to make it more transparent going forward.

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