Today’s Editorial October 20: Pride and prejudice

We were left speechless following the recent pronouncement of Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger, the retired Scotland Yard policeman looking into allegations of misconduct at the RCIPS, that the release of a Chief Justice’s court ruling might be considered ‘prejudicial’ to his ongoing investigation.

The Hon. Anthony Smellie’s 4 April judgment regarding search warrants that were refused against two senior Cayman Islands police officers was first reported in this newspaper on 3 October.

Mr. Smellie has since stated that the release of the documents was not prohibited under the Grand Court rules and that investigators had not requested that the documents be sealed anyway.

Several days after that report appeared, Mr. Bridger issued the following statement: ‘I have to say that I am extremely disappointed in the professional and individual judgments made by those who have recently spoken through the media, regarding the independent investigation. This could be prejudicial to the investigation and the individuals involved.’

The Caymanian Compass wonders if Mr. Bridger has been reading other media accounts of his investigation over the past several months.

While the Compass is humbled and honoured by its status as the newspaper of record in these islands, we sometimes have concern that status means this publication is subjected to different rules than other media houses.

Case in point: Another local newspaper has reported potentially libellous and/or prejudicial information on numerous occasions with regard to Mr. Bridger’s ongoing investigation yet nary a peep has escaped the UK lawman’s lips on the subject. When pressed about the issue, he has responded that it is simply a personal matter.

If a personal matter causes one’s key witness to flee Cayman and publicly state that he will never return for fear of persecution, does that prejudice an investigation?

Does accusing an individual of the crime of burglary or violation of the islands’ Confidential Relationships Law, particularly following a judgment from the Chief Justice stating that individual had no criminal intent, amount to a prejudicial statement?

How about implicating a Cayman Islands Grand Court judge in the aforementioned alleged burglary, which officials have stated he has no involvement in? Is that prejudicial?

At any rate, we at the Compass are thankful that government and the public in general are supportive of the free press of these islands, including all TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, websites and other media out there. Without that support, our efforts to keep the public informed would simply not be possible.

We also hold the fervent hope that all media houses, including those who publish ‘prejudicial’ statements, continue to be treated equally in the eyes of the government, particularly those in law enforcement.

If the situation proves otherwise, we have to begin questioning the motives of such officials who are in charge of ‘finding the truth’ about alleged misconduct and corruption in these islands.

While the Compass is humbled and honoured by its status as the newspaper of record in these islands, we sometimes have concern that status means this publication is subjected to different rules than other media houses.

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