Today’s Editorial January 19: Justice at a snail’s pace

Last week, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service issued a press release announcing there would be no charges laid as a result of the investigation into the affairs surrounding the affordable housing initiative and the National Housing and Community Development Trust.

Conspicuously missing from the release was any mention of former Cabinet minister with responsibility for housing, Frank McField.

Although the press release did not mention Mr. McField, it was common knowledge that he – along with a company named Staunch Ltd. – was a focal point of the investigation. On the campaign trail leading up to the 2005 elections, many of the People’s Progressive Movement candidates suggested there was criminal wrongdoing by Mr. McField with regard to the affairs of the NHCDT.

In fact less than one week after assuming power in those elections, PPM members approached then-Governor Bruce Dinwiddy with their concerns about the affordable housing initiative. Mr. Dinwiddy then requested Auditor General Dan Duguay carry out a forensic audit of the NHCDT. He in turn handed over his findings to the RCIPS Financial Crimes Unit to investigate the matter further. This happened prior to 17 June, 2005, the date Mr. Duguay issued his report on the forensic audit.

Now, more than three and a half years later, the RCIPS has said a legal ruling from an independent senior Queen’s Counsel stated there is insufficient evidence to lay any charges against those involved. The ruling also recommended the investigation be closed.

We appreciate the fact that this was a rather complicated matter; that it takes time to thoroughly investigate the operations and financial transactions of an organisation like the NHCDT; and that the Financial Crimes Unit has had plenty of other things to deal with, not the least of which is the chaos resulting from the personnel shake-up at the RCIPS.

However, with all due respect, three and a half years is simply too long to allow the cloud of allegations of criminal wrongdoing to hang over the head of anyone, let alone a former Cabinet minister.

This is not to say the affairs of the NHCDT were properly handled. There were two reports from the auditor general that clearly found otherwise.

However, just because the PPM suggested on the campaign trail that there were criminal activities involved, does not mean Mr. McField or anyone else was guilty of any crimes.

Now we hear officially there was insufficient evidence to lay any charges against Mr. McField. It should not take three and a half years to figure that out.

When people’s reputations and livelihoods are at stake, justice cannot be done at a snail’s pace