In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Cayman Islands Governor Stuart Jack said he has initiated disciplinary action against Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan after the ousted commissioner apparently did not comply with three official requests to return to the islands.
Mr. Jack said he made those requests through Mr. Kernohan’s attorney in July and August and views the commissioner’s non-compliance with his instructions as a violation of the terms of his employment contract.
‘His failure to return is a great disappointment to me, as I had every reason to believe that someone in Mr. Kernohan’s office would honour his undertaking to return following the death of his father,’ Governor Jack said.
Mr. Kernohan could not immediately be reached for comment.
Commissioner Kernohan was granted compassionate leave this spring and had that extended to bereavement leave following his father’s passing. It was unknown whether the Governor or anyone in his office has been in contact with Mr. Kernohan since that time.
‘In light of this…I have decided today (Wednesday) to initiate disciplinary action against Mr. Kernohan,’ the Governor said.
The Commissioner has not been removed from office, and at this point is still receiving full pay from the RCIPS. Mr. Jack said the disciplinary review would have to proceed before any further steps could be taken.
Mr. Kernohan has been on temporary leave since 27 March when the Governor removed him, Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon and Royal Cayman Islands Police Chief Superintendent John Jones from office. Mr. Jack announced in mid-May that Mr. Kernohan and Mr. Jones had been placed under formal investigation in relation to a misconduct probe at RCIPS.
That probe involves the men’s alleged roles in the events which led up to an unauthorised entry at the offices of Cayman Net News publisher Desmond Seales on 3 September, 2007.
Mr. Kernohan’s apparent refusal to return to the islands will not halt the on-going criminal investigation, and Mr. Jack said the retired UK Metropolitan Police officer leading that probe promised to find and interview the commissioner, wherever he might be located.
‘I am assured that the investigation into Mr. Kernohan’s alleged misconduct in a public office will continue,’ Mr. Jack said.
In the meantime, Mr. Kernohan and the other two police commanders continue receiving full pay, including Mr. Dixon who has now been charged with four separate offences unrelated to the misconduct probe surrounding the 3 Septermber, 2007 incident.
‘This issue is unprecedented in the senior ranks of the RCIP,’ Mr. Jack said, adding that his office was taking legal advice on whether the three men should still be on the payroll and if so, what salary they should be receiving.
In addition to the criminal investigation and the potential disciplinary action regarding Mr. Kernohan, Governor Jack said that he would be asking the Cayman Islands Auditor General to conduct an investigation into the acquisition of the police helicopter which was purchased last year from a UK police service. That helicopter has never arrived in Cayman.
‘It is in the interest of good governance that we review our processes to establish that, indeed, adequate checks and balances were in place in this instance,’ Mr. Jack said.
Last week, three Cayman Islands Cabinet ministers blasted the purchase of the helicopter which they said was unfit to fly night missions over Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, and which might not be adequately protected if it was forced down over water. It was not clear whether the helicopter would still be brought to Cayman or if it would have to be sold and another vehicle purchased.
Ministers blamed Mr. Kernohan for the foul up, intimating that he would no longer be welcome to return to the Cayman Islands as police commissioner.