UK Met team gets audited

Cayman Islands Auditor General Dan Duguay began an investigation last week into spending by the independent police team looking into alleged misconduct at the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

Dan Duguay

Dan Duguay

Mr. Duguay said his review would first aim to find out exactly how much has been spent by the officers, who all hail from the UK Metropolitan Police Service and would also attempt to find out whether that spending equated to good value for money.

The audit will also include expenses for any experts, attorneys, consultants, or advisers employed by the team.

General figures on what has been spent in the past by the investigating team have previously been reported by the Caymanian Compass. From September 2007 through 30 June, 2008 government budget figures showed a total $1.67 million had been spent. More recent figures provided by Governor Stuart Jack stated $2.6 million had been spent through mid-November.

A specific break-down of costs has never been provided despite numerous questions from the press.

Government ministers have speculated that costs would approach anywhere from $4 million to $10 million, but said they have not been provided with precise figures either.

‘I’m sure there’s someone who knows in government,’ Mr. Duguay said. ‘But many times in government it’s a matter of finding the right person to ask.’

Mr. Duguay said the decision to audit the Met team’s spending was made on his own initiative following a conversation with Acting Police Commissioner James Smith. The auditor also met with Governor Stuart Jack and the police team’s Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger last week for preliminary discussions.

All parties agreed to cooperate fully, Mr. Duguay said.

‘I don’t want to give the impression that, because I’m doing this, that there’s something wrong here,’ he said. ‘We’re going in with a completely open mind.’

One of the lingering questions regarding expenses in the on-going police investigation is the potential cost of litigation by individuals such as Grand Court Justice Alexander Henderson, whose damages claim following his wrongful arrest is expected to be in the ‘low seven figures,’ according to the judge.

However, Mr. Duguay said his office would not be able to get into what potential litigation might cost. Rather, he said he would focus on what has been spent by the Met team and, if possible, try to project on-going expenses.

‘We want to give people an appreciation of how much this might cost in the end, but I’m not sure how far we go down this road without getting into the investigatory side,’ he said.

A key issue in determining total costs for the Met team’s work is determining how much longer they will need to remain in Cayman. Governor Jack has recently said he expects a comprehensive report from the team at the end of this month, but where the case goes from there isn’t certain.

The trials of two individuals charged following Met team officers’ work are expected to happen later this year. Former Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and RCIPS Chief Superintendent John Jones, who is currently on required leave, are still under investigation but have not been arrested or charged.

Mr. Duguay said his work would not have anything to do with the on-going police investigation.

‘My concerns are just to the costing, nothing else,’ he said. ‘There was a growing realisation there was a need to look into this.’

He did not give an indication of when his report might be finished, but expected it would be made public when completed.