Paul Scoon

Nicholas Brathwaite Elizabeth II Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George

Sir Paul Scoon

Paul Scoon (cropped).jpg
Sir Paul Scoon in 1983
2nd Governor-General of Grenada
In office
30 September 1978 – 6 August 1992
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterEric Gairy (1978–79)
Maurice Bishop (1979–83)
Bernard Coard (1983)
Hudson Austin (1983)
Nicholas Brathwaite (1983–84)
Herbert Blaize (1984–89)
Ben Jones (1989–90)
Nicholas Brathwaite (1990–92)
Preceded bySir Leo de Gale
Succeeded bySir Reginald Palmer
Personal details
Born(1935-07-04)4 July 1935
Gouyave, British Windward Islands
(now Gouyave, Grenada)
Died2 September 2013(2013-09-02) (aged 78)
St. Paul's, Grenada
Political partyIndependent
Alma materUniversity of Leeds
University of Toronto

Sir Paul Godwin Scoon GCMG GCVO OBE (4 July 1935 – 2 September 2013) was Grenadian politician who served as Governor-General of Grenada from 1978 to 1992.[1] His tenure is notable for its hectic events related to the rise and fall of the People's Revolutionary Government, as well as his personal involvement and support of the Invasion of Grenada.

Early life

Scoon was born on 4 July 1935 in Gouyave, a town on the west coast of Grenada. He attended St. John's Anglican School and then the Grenada Boys' Secondary School. Scoon then received an external degree from the University of London before going on to study at the University of Leeds, England, and gaining an M.Ed. at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He returned to Grenada to teach at the Grenada Boys' Secondary School. Following a career rising from Chief Education Officer to finally becoming Secretary to the Cabinet, the head of Grenada's Civil Service. He was awarded the OBE in 1970 and in 1973 he returned to London to fill the post of Deputy Director of the Commonwealth Foundation.


In 1978, Scoon was appointed Governor-General of Grenada by Queen Elizabeth II, on the advice of Prime Minister Sir Eric Gairy. However, the following year, the New Jewel Movement—led by Maurice Bishop and his former pupils, Bernard Coard and Hudson Austin—overthrew Gairy.

Initially arrested by the militants, Scoon was soon released and he and Bishop managed to maintain a semi-normal working relationship, despite the fact that Scoon strongly opposed Bishop's Provisional Revolutionary Government. Bishop agreed to retain Grenada's status as a constitutional monarchy and the position of governor-general to represent the monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Scoon was happy to remain in office, providing a degree of stability in the situation, despite irritation at the curtailment of some of his privileges. He played tennis with Bishop and maintained his reputation for discretion.

Role in the US invasion

Bishop was in turn deposed by a counter-coup in 1983 and replaced by a more radical government under Coard. In response, Scoon, acting through secret diplomatic channels, asked the United States and other Caribbean nations to intervene and depose the Coard government, using the reserve powers vested in the Crown to authorise the action. After Coard was made aware of this, he placed Scoon under house arrest, but Coard himself was deposed by Austin on 19 October, after Bishop was killed trying to escape. On 25 October, the invasion of Grenada (codenamed Operation Urgent Fury) was launched by a joint U.S.-Caribbean force to depose Austin.[2]

When the invasion occurred, one of the first steps was to free Scoon, a task assigned to the United States Navy SEALs. A three-day siege was launched against the Governor-General's residence and Scoon and his family were eventually liberated. The U.S. and Caribbean governments quickly reaffirmed Scoon as the only legitimate representative of the Queen—and hence the only lawful authority in Grenada. Soon after the invasion began, the United States released a letter from Scoon, dated October 24, in which he requested armed intervention. It was displayed as evidence that the invasion was not a unilateral U.S. act, but a regional police action.[2] After the invasion, though, Scoon was anxious for U.S. forces to leave as soon as possible, stating two weeks after the intervention that he "cannot see people from abroad coming in to change our minds or souls and [the] whole heart of a society" and that "it is important that within the shortest possible time that we should live and work in a situation where security support takes the form of a police operation that will increasingly come under the command of a Grenadian or West Indian commissioner of police."[3]

As per Commonwealth constitutional practice, Scoon became interim head of government and appointed an advisory council, which in turn named Nicholas Brathwaite as chairman and interim prime minister until post-invasion elections were held in 1984. Scoon retired from his post in 1992.

Later life

Scoon published a book entitled Survival for Service that provided a personal account of his experiences as governor-general. In it, he denied writing the 24 October letter, saying it had been delivered to him on 27 October, after he was rescued. He did, however, confirm that he had asked for U.S. and Caribbean intervention.[2] The accuracy of some of this book has been questioned by Richard Hart[4] and Jeremy Taylor.

Scoon died on 2 September 2013. Although a cause of death was not announced, he had been a diabetic for many years.[2]


  1. ^ "Ex-Grenada Governor General Paul Scoon Dies at 78". ABC News. Retrieved 2013-09-04.
  2. ^ a b c d Martin, Douglas (2013-09-09). "Paul Scoon, Who Invited Grenada Invaders, Dies at 78". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Video on YouTube
  4. ^ Society for Caribbean Studies Newsletter, No. 53, Autumn 2004.