Gov’t: RCIPS isn’t funding probe

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s budget will not be used to fund on-going investigations into alleged police corruption, government officials said Friday.

Acting Police Commissioner James Smith said last week that he was looking ‘to see where we can make cuts in spending that reflect the current economic circumstances and have examined staffing matters very carefully.’

However, a government-issued statement in response to Caymanian Compass questions indicated the money for the UK Metropolitan Police investigation is not coming from the RCIPS.

Cabinet members have given their approval for an additional CI $915,810 to fund two separate police investigations of alleged misconduct and corruption within the RCIPS. Ministers said last week that the majority of the cash would go to pay for the first of the two investigations, known as Operation Tempura. The rest, approximately CI $143,000 would pay for a new probe, dubbed Operation Cealt.

That money still has to be approved by the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee. The committee is expected to vote on the matter this week.

The latest cash infusion will increase the investigation’s total costs to nearly $4 million.

‘This is a considerable sum,’ Mr. Smith. ‘But these investigations are an investment in the future of the RCIPS.’

Operation Tempura, which has been under way in Cayman since September 2007, has focused on an unauthorised entry into the offices of local newspaper publisher Desmond Seales. A former Cayman Islands lawmaker has been charged in connection with some of the circumstances surrounding that case and is set to go to trial on 23 March.

Suspended Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon has also been charged in connection with allegations that were unrelated to the initial case. He’s also expected to face trial later this year.

Operation Cealt is focused on a number of claims about corruption made by island residents, which were made after Operation Tempura’s investigation became public. Police have declined to discuss specific details of any of those allegations.

‘Some are particularly serious and must be investigated so that we can establish the truth,’ Mr. Smith said.

Cayman Islands Governor Stuart Jack indicated last week that Operation Tempura was winding down. However, the government’s statement Friday noted that two top RCIPS officials; former Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and Chief Superintendent John Jones were still under investigation in the case.

Neither Mr. Jones nor Mr. Kernohan have been arrested or charged with any crimes. Mr. Kernohan was fired last year after he refused the governor’s requests to return to Cayman.

Acting Commissioner Smith also noted that UK Met Assistant Commissioner John Yates is still involved in the Cayman Islands investigation in an advisory capacity. Operationally, Mr. Smith is the head of a local committee that is directing the probe; the committee reports directly to Governor Jack.

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