Paul Scoon

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The Right Honourable His Excellency
Sir Paul Godwin Scoon
Paul Scoon.jpg
Sir Paul Scoon in 1983
Governor-General of Grenada
In office
30 September 1978 – 6 August 1992
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Eric 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 by Sir Leo de Gale
Succeeded by Sir Reginald Palmer
Personal details
Born (1935-07-04)4 July 1935
Gouyave, British Windward Islands
Died 2 September 2013(2013-09-02) (aged 78)
St. Paul's, Grenada
Nationality Grenadian
Political party Independent
Alma mater University of Leeds
University of Toronto

Sir Paul Godwin Scoon, GCMG, GCVO, OBE (4 July 1935 – 2 September 2013), was Governor General of Grenada for 14 years, 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[edit]

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, 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 he was appointed Governor General of Grenada by Queen Elizabeth II.

In 1979 the New Jewel Movement overthrew Prime Minister Sir Eric Gairy. This movement was led by Maurice Bishop and his former pupils, Bernard Coard and Hudson Austin.

Initially arrested by the new government, Scoon was soon released and Bishop and Scoon 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 symbolic position of the governor general. 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 developed a cordial relationship with Bishop, playing tennis with him and maintaining his reputation for discretion.

Role in U.S. invasion[edit]

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. He was well within his rights to do so under the reserve powers vested in the Crown. When Coard got wind of this, he placed Scoon under house arrest. Coard himself was deposed by Austin on 19 October, after Bishop was killed trying to escape. On 25 October, Operation Urgent Fury was launched by a joint American-Caribbean force to depose Austin.[2]

When the invasion occurred, one of the first steps was to free Scoon. This highly risky task was assigned to the US Navy SEALs. A three-day siege was launched against the governor general's residence. Scoon and his family were eventually liberated, and the American and Caribbean governments immediately recognized him as Grenada's only legal ruler. Soon after the invasion began, the United States released a letter from Scoon dated October 24 in which he requested armed intervention. The letter was trumpeted as evidence that the invasion was not a unilateral American act, but a regional police action.[2] After the invasion, he was anxious for American 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 acting head of government, Scoon used his authority to appoint an advisory council, which in turn named Nicholas Brathwaite as interim prime minister until post-invasion elections were held in 1984. Scoon retired from his post in 1992.

Later life[edit]

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 American 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.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Sir Leo de Gale
Governor-General of Grenada
Succeeded by
Sir Reginald Palmer