Governor addresses Met costs

Governor Stuart Jack said this week that an independent investigation into alleged misconduct at the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service will continue ‘unimpeded to its full conclusion.’

‘No country wants to endure such events,’ Mr. Jack said. ‘However, as I have said repeatedly, the investigation must be allowed to proceed unhindered.’

Mr. Jack’s comments came during an announcement Wednesday that Cayman Islands Grand Court Justice Alexander Henderson had been arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office.

Mr. Henderson was released on bail Wednesday night, but returned on Thursday for further questioning by police, according to a government spokesperson.

Investigators said the arrest was connected with the initial investigation conducted by officers from the UK Metropolitan Police force, which cleared a top police official and a local newspaper publisher of allegations that the two were involved in a corrupt relationship.

Mr. Jack said the arrest demonstrated the independence of the Met investigation from both his office and from the elected government.

‘These matters are ones that I give considerable thought to, and they’re ones that give me sleepless nights because of the implications of the individual involved and for the country,’ he said.

‘It is important to know that investigations of this nature inevitably take time and money. I know there is speculation about the cost of this investigation, however the price of doing nothing is far greater in regards to the long term credibility and reputation of the Cayman Islands as a safe and economically viable jurisdiction.’

Justice Henderson’s arrest has sparked a fury of publicity internationally, particularly in Vancouver, Canada, where he served as a British Columbia Supreme Court Justice.

According to those who knew Mr. Henderson, he was generally held in high regard among the country’s legal circles.

The Caymanian Compass reported last week that the country had budgeted some $1.67 million for the independent police investigation. It was unclear from government budget documents whether that would be the extent of the spending for the UK Met team, which at one point had as many as nine officers.

When questioned, Mr. Jack did not dispute the newspaper’s report, but neither did he provide a break down of the specific expenses for the investigation’s budget.

All funding provided for the probe will come from the Cayman Islands operating budget.

‘Government continues to support the investigating team so they can move forward,’ the Governor said.

Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger said it was obvious that moving a team of officers from the UK to the Cayman Islands for more than a year would come with significant cost. He has said there are auditing procedures in place to keep track of the Met unit’s spending.

‘The question people have to ask themselves…’what does the future look like for the Cayman Islands around the issues of integrity?’ Mr. Bridger asked. ‘What if there was a view that people said ‘stop now Mr. Bridger, just walk away?’ Where does that leave the Cayman Islands?

‘It is painful, it is difficult, it does bring with it significant costs. But I think it will make a better Cayman Islands for the future.’

Since September 2007, the Met police officers’ investigations have cleared Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis and newspaper publisher Desmond Seales of allegations that the two were involved in a corrupt relationship.

The man accused of making false allegations about that relationship, former MLA and newspaper journalist Lyndon Martin, could face trial in the early part of next year.

The Met probe has also led to the removal of three top police commanders in connection with a misconduct investigation. UK officers are trying to determine what roles Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon and Chief Superintendent John Jones may have played in an unauthorised entry at Mr. Seales’ office on 3 September, 2007. None of the three men have been arrested or charged in connection with that case.

Mr. Dixon was arrested and charged in relation to a separate matter earlier this year which was uncovered during the course of the Met police team’s work. He faces a 1 October court date.

Another former RCIPS officer arrested in that case was released without charges.

Justice Henderson’s arrest in connection with the initial investigation is the latest step in the on-going probe.

‘This is a difficult time for everyone – particularly those under investigation,’ Governor Jack said. ‘It is only by working together that we will achieve the positive change this country deserves.’