No covert approval given

Cayman Islands Governor Stuart Jack and Attorney General Sam Bulgin did not advise police to use covert operatives in a corruption probe involving a search of a local newspaper office last year.

Sam Bulgin

Sam Bulgin

According to court documents obtained by the Caymanian Compass, both men were briefed several times about a Royal Cayman Islands Police investigation that led to the 3 September, 2007 search of newspaper publisher Desmond Seales’ office by one of his employees.

The search by ex-Cayman Net News journalist John Evans was done in cooperation with senior police officials, according to information contained in a ruling by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie.

At meetings on 28 August and 29 August, 2007, the judge’s ruling states Mr. Bulgin, in the presence of the Governor, provided written advice to police on how to proceed with the investigation.

‘(The second set of advice) quite properly concluded on the need for a senior police officer to carefully assess whether there was by then sufficient evidence available for the obtaining of a search warrant from the court,’ Justice Smellie’s ruling read.

No covert approval given

‘There was, however, no reference in the advices to the possibility of (Net News employees)…being enlisted as volunteers, to seek to recover copies of the alleged minutes or e-mails.’

At the time, RCIPS officials were investigating claims by former Net News manager Lyndon Martin that Mr. Seales and Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis traded confidential police information that might have compromised certain investigations and placed officers in danger.

Subsequent searches of Mr. Seales’ office did not turn up any evidence of correspondence with Deputy Commissioner Ennis. An independent investigation later cleared the two men of any wrongdoing.

Court documents revealed for the first time in the Compass Friday showed that Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and Chief Superintendent John Jones had asked both Mr. Evans and Mr. Martin to assist police in locating documentary evidence of the alleged corrupt relationship.

UK laws generally require approval from top ranking government officials before such agreements to use covert methods are entered into. However, no such laws exist in the Cayman Islands, which is a British Overseas Territory.

Mr. Evans said at the time that he did not consider the request for assistance from police as an official request to participate in a covert operation. He described it in court documents as ‘being asked to do a favour for somebody.’

The fallout from the operation later led to the removal in March of three top RCIPS commanders including Mr. Kernohan, Mr. Jones and Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon. None of the three men have been charged in connection with the 3 September, 2007 search.

In fact, the ruling issued in April by Chief Justice Smellie stated that it appears Mr. Kernohan and Mr. Jones did not request the search ‘for any unlawful purposes.’

‘If there was no genuine belief that the incriminatory material really existed, what then would have been the purpose of seeking Martin’s and Evans’ assistance?’ the judgment stated.