$1.67M for police investigation

Nearly $1.67 million has been budgeted by the Cayman Islands government for an on-going investigation at the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

Cabinet ministers confirmed this week that $1,668,611 listed in budget documents made public in the Legislative Assembly Monday went to the UK Metropolitan Police team which has been here since September 2007 looking into allegations of misconduct in a public office at RCIPS.

‘The budget covers remuneration of investigative and support staff, accommodation, travel, rent of premises and other equipment and office consumables,’ according to an e-mailed statement from the government, responding to questions from the Caymanian Compass.

The money was listed as part of a supplemental appropriation for the government financial year, which ended on 30 June, 2008. It was unclear from those records whether the entire amount had already been spent or if additional funding for the UK Met team would be required.

Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger has previously declined to comment on the specifics of the budget for his team of officers; a team that has numbered as many as nine investigators.

Mr. Bridger has told the Compass that the travel expenses included visits to Cayman for the families of some of the investigating officers, including his own family.

However, he has also stressed that audit processes to monitor his team’s spending were in place and has always said the Cayman Islands government would be paying for their work.

‘I don’t think there’s any big secret about that,’ he said. (See Caymanian Compass, 5 May, 2008)

‘I appreciate the fact that it is hard to stay patient in these matters, especially when one cannot see the daily results,’ Mr. Bridger said in a previous statement. ‘These are complex investigations and they do take time.’

UK Met Assistant Police Commissioner John Yates has also visited the Cayman Islands to check on the status of the investigation.

‘It is vitally important that a country’s police service remains above suspicion,’ Mr. Yates said. ‘It must be remembered that the purpose of these investigations is to confirm or disprove any involvement in criminal activities.’

The probe by Mr. Bridger’s team has led to the removal of three top RCIPS commanders, one of which, Assistant Police Commissioner Rudi Dixon, has been charged with misconduct in a public office and doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice. Two other commanders, Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and Chief Superintendent John Jones, have been placed under investigation but have not been arrested or charged with any crimes.

Mr. Kernohan also faces potential disciplinary action for what Governor Stuart Jack said was his failure to return to the Cayman Islands following three separate requests in July in August. The commissioner is understood to be in Scotland, where he went earlier this year to be with his dying father.

In a statement last week, Mr. Kernohan said the Governor has no power to direct where he spends his period of required leave from the RCIPS. The commissioner has also said he has been in contact with both the Governor’s office and Mr. Bridger’s team.

Mr. Jones is still on island. All three men continue to receive full pay while they are being investigated.