Met search warrants queried

The chief investigator looking into alleged misconduct within the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service was questioned last week by lawmakers about his decisions to seek search warrants against several high-profile community members, including three top-ranking police commanders and a Grand Court judge.

During finance committee hearings in the Legislative Assembly Friday, Education Minister Alden McLaughlin asked Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger to explain why he went to a justice of the peace for a search warrant against Judge Alexander Henderson, after the islands’ Chief Justice denied search warrants for Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon and Chief Superintendent John Jones.

Mr. Bridger pointed out that only the search warrants against Messrs. Kernohan and Jones had been denied. The Chief Justice did grant the warrant against Mr. Dixon.

He did not discuss what steps his investigative team took following the refusal of the warrants against Mr. Kernohan and Mr. Jones.

The reason why the warrant against Mr. Dixon was granted is revealed in an April ruling by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie.

According to Chief Justice Smellie’s ruling, there was no evidence presented during either warrant application made by Mr. Bridger’s team that indicated that Mr. Kernohan or Mr. Jones had committed any offences.

In regard to Mr. Dixon, the 4 April ruling stated: ‘In the end, I accepted, however marginally, that a different view could be taken of the involvement of Deputy Police Commissioner Dixon…’

The initial investigation being conducted by Mr. Bridger’s team centres on the events that led up to a 3 October, 2007 entry made at the offices of local newspaper publisher Desmond Seales by one of Mr. Seales’ former employees.

The Cayman Net News employee, John Evans, has admitted in court documents that he made that entry following requests by Mr. Kernohan and Mr. Jones.

The two police commanders were seeking to either prove or disprove claims that Mr. Seales and Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis had improperly exchanged confidential police documents and other information.

Mr. Evans’ search turned up no such evidence and accusations against Mr. Ennis that police have said were made by former Net News employee Lyndon Martin were later proved false, according to Mr. Bridger’s investigative team.

‘(Mr. Dixon was) the subject having the closest connection to Mr. Martin and who, from the statement of Deputy Police Commissioner Ennis in particular, may reasonably be suspected to have been privy and perhaps was associated with, the motives behind Mr. Martin’s machinations,’ according to the Chief Justice’s 4 April judgment.

Mr. Martin, a former Legislative Assembly member, has been charged with making false statements to police in connection with the allegations made against Mr. Ennis. His case could go to trial early next year.

Neither Mr. Dixon, nor Mr. Kernohan, nor Mr. Jones has been charged in relation to the 3 September, 2007 entry at Mr. Seales’ office. Mr. Evans has also not been charged with any offences.

The Chief Justice has been publicly criticised by Mr. Bridger for releasing documents that the ex-UK lawman said could be prejudicial to his ongoing investigation.

However, Mr. Smellie, in a Grand Court Practice Direction dated August 1997 writes that the publication of information relating to proceedings before any court sitting in private would not by itself be considered in contempt of court, expect in certain specific circumstances.

‘The publication of the text or a summary of the whole part of an order made by a court sitting in private shall not of itself be contempt of court except where the court (having the power to do so) expressly prohibits the publication,’ the document reads.

Mr. Smellie states there is also a form that parties to a private hearing may submit that would restrict the publication of any particular ruling from those proceedings. Mr. Bridger’s team did not make such a request, according to the Chief Justice.