Met team report due in Jan

$2.6 million spent on probe

Breaking his long silence concerning the on-going investigation into alleged criminality and mismanagement within the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Governor Stuart Jack said Wednesday that he expects an assessment of those allegations to be delivered by the end of next month.

Gov. Stuart Jack

Gov. Stuart Jack

That assessment will be delivered by Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger and Acting Police Commissioner James Smith, who is overseeing the two separate investigative teams looking into various allegations, including misconduct in a public office by one former and two current high-ranking RCIPS officials.

Neither ex-Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon nor Chief Superintendent John Jones have been arrested or charged in connection with the initial investigation being pursued by Mr. Bridger’s team of seven officers, who all hail from the UK Metropolitan police force. Mr. Jones was recently interviewed by detectives.

That investigation concerns the various roles the three men played in events which led up to an unauthorised entry at the offices of local newspaper publisher Desmond Seales by one of Mr. Seales’ employees on 3 September, 2007.

Police officials had asked then-Cayman Net News journalist John Evans to enter Mr. Seales’ office to search for evidence of an alleged ‘corrupt relationship’ between the publisher and Deputy RCIPS Commissioner Anthony Ennis. Mr. Evans’ search turned up nothing and police later said allegations that Mr. Ennis had been providing confidential police information to Mr. Seales were false.

According to the Governor, two of the officers on the UK Met investigating team are still employed by Scotland Yard, while five others are working on government contracts under the provisions of the Cayman Islands Police Law.

Mr. Bridger has previously said an additional five people on his team are working on other complaints against police which are unrelated to the initial investigation. Mr. Jack’s written answers to Caymanian Compass questions did not make reference to the separate police team.

The January report is expected to detail findings related to the other matters which have been brought to the attention of the UK Met team.

The Governor said costs for the UK Met team’s investigation through mid-November had totalled $2.6 million. Those expenses include housing, meals, office rent, salaries, travel for officers and their families, and other items. No specific breakdown of the costs was provided.

The Caymanian Compass reported earlier this year that costs for the UK Met team’s probe came to $1.67 million through 30, June 2008. Presumably the additional $930,000 was spent from 1 July through mid November.

Mr. Jack said the UK Met team would be under the direction of Acting RCIPS Commissioner Smith, who’s chairing a committee made up of officials from the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs and a staffer from Government Information Services. Among its duties, the committee hears all additional requests for funding from the UK Met team and has some oversight role concerning officers’ actions.

‘I am satisfied that enquiries are being made with due diligence and speed and that the quality of the investigative work is to a very high standard,’ Mr. Smith said.

Other members of the oversight committee included Deputy Chief Secretary Donovan Ebanks, Solicitor General Cheryll Richards, Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson, Long-time Cayman Islands civil servant Peter Gough, and Mr. Bridger.

It’s not clear whether the UK Met team’s work will be completed once the report is submitted to the Governor at the end of January. The team’s investigation has led to criminal charges against former Cayman Islands MLA Lyndon Martin and Mr. Dixon. The two men’s trials are both expected to start early next year.

Charges against Mr. Dixon do not relate to the initial investigation by the UK Met team. The deputy police commissioner has been accused of ordering the release of gambling suspects on Cayman Brac in 2003 and a man arrested for drink driving on Grand Cayman in 2004 without reasonable cause.

Contempt of court

Governor Jack also confirmed that Commissioner Smith is now reviewing a criminal complaint which was made to the police service last year regarding letters published in the Net News.

Cayman Islands Grand Court Judge Alexander Henderson was concerned those letters to the editor might have amounted to criminal contempt.

Justice Henderson was arrested on 24 September outside his home by officers from the UK Met police service who accused him, among other things, of violating the Net News publisher’s right to privacy and improperly using his influence in asking Mr. Evans to find out what he could about the source of the letters.

Mr. Henderson’s lawyers successfully quashed search warrants issued for his home and office and are currently challenging the legality of his arrest. The judge has maintained he never asked Mr. Evans to enter the publisher’s office for any reason.

The published letters, which were critical of the judiciary in general and Chief Justice in particular, were thought by Justice Henderson to be a specific type of contempt known as ‘scandalising the court,’ which is an offence under Cayman Islands law.

An arrest warrant for the judge stated that he knew the letters did not amount to contempt before he asked Mr. Evans to find out about them. Justice Sir Peter Cresswell did not agree and ruled that Mr. Henderson might well have come to the conclusion that the writings were contemptuous.

A complaint was apparently referred to the RCIPS about the matter last year by the Chief Justice, but it’s not known whether investigators ever looked into the matter which Acting Commissioner Smith is now reviewing.

Attorney at law?

The Governor also noted that a UK lawyer who advised the Met team at certain times during the course of their investigations was contracted as an independent legal advisor.

Mr. Martin Polaine is based in the UK, although he did appear in court during Justice Henderson’s legal review proceedings on behalf of the UK Met team.

The Governor said Mr. Polaine did not practice law while in the Cayman Islands and acted as a legal consultant only. Attorneys for Justice Henderson had previously noted that Mr. Polaine was not licensed to practice law in Cayman.