Judge gets paid

An investigation into alleged misconduct within the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service looked set to continue this week, even as a Grand Court judge received a million-dollar settlement following his illegal arrest by the police team investigating the matter.

henderson

Justice Alexander Henderson

Justice Alexander Henderson was awarded a payout of $1.275 million, according to his attorneys. The settlement amount was initially refused by the Cayman Islands Cabinet, but was later forced through by Governor Stuart Jack using his reserved powers under the constitution.

The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office approved the use of those powers to settle the matter. The amount will have to be paid by the Cayman Islands Government.

The Caymanian Compass reached Mr. Henderson late Monday, but he declined to comment on any aspect of the settlement. The veteran Canadian-born judge has previously said that he had hoped the people of Cayman would not have to pay for the settlement.

Mr. Henderson’s attorneys called the agreement a satisfactory settlement.

Just hours after the judge’s attorneys announced the $1.275 million award, a one-page statement was issued about the on-going police investigation by RCIPS Acting Commissioner James Smith.

The commissioner indicated that a full report had been presented to him by police investigators who all hail originally from the UK Metropolitan Police force. The information contained in the document does not relate to the initial matters that brought the UK investigators to Cayman in 2007.

Rather, the report details information about separate allegations of corruption within the police service. These allegations were made by members of the public who came forward after the presence of the UK Met officers in Cayman was announced at a March 2008 press conference.

‘The report is comprehensive and includes the result of 171 debriefing interviews,’ Mr. Smith said in the statement. ‘There are 7,100 pages of audio transcripts including community impact statements.’

Calling the report unprecedented in the Cayman Islands, Mr. Smith said he is making plans to deal with matters released in the report. He gave no details of specific allegations, or whether those accusations were criminal or administrative in nature.

Mr. Smith said he would brief Cabinet members about the ‘broad findings’ of the report, probably early next week.

Cabinet members have recently said they would not approve any further funding for the UK Met team’s work while its Senior Investigating Officer, Martin Bridger, is in charge of the investigation. They have also demanded a full briefing on all matters being investigated by the special police team.

Mr. Smith, who left the UK Met force in 2005, has repeatedly expressed confidence in the work of Mr. Bridger’s team.

Elected ministers have somewhat less confidence.

‘No jury in the Cayman Islands will convict anyone based on evidence presented by Martin Bridger,’ Education Minister Alden McLaughlin said during a telephone interview with the Compass in January, following Cabinet’s refusal to approve funds for Justice Henderson’s settlement.

That statement may soon be put to the test.

A trial date has been set for ex-MLA Lyndon Martin in March. Mr. Martin is accused of making false allegations against his former employer, newspaper publisher Desmond Seales. UK Met officers arrested Mr. Martin on 27 March.

Deputy RCIPS Commissioner Rudolph Dixon is also expected to face trial later this year on charges of misconduct and doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice. The charges against Mr. Dixon relate to separate cases where he is alleged to have released criminal suspects after their arrest for no good reason. Mr. Dixon was first arrested by UK Met officers in May.

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