The Cayman Islands Legal Department will not bring charges against former Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and Chief Superintendent John Jones.
Acting Commissioner James Smith issued a statement Friday saying the Attorney General’s Chambers had reviewed the files and concluded there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against Mr. Kernohan or Mr. Jones.
‘I concur with advice from the Attorney General’s Chambers and am waiting on a file from the special investigation team in order to review and consider whether or not the evidence may lead to disciplinary action against Chief Superintendent John Jones,’ Mr. Smith said in the statement.
According to a press release issued Friday by Mr. Kernohan’s spokesperson, David Legge, the former commissioner received notice through his attorneys of the Legal Department’s decision on Thursday. The notice came through a letter dated that same day and signed by Anne Lawrence, the UK Metropolitan Police special investigating officer in charge of Operation Tempura. Ms Lawrence took over from Martin Bridger, who held the same position previously.
Mr. Bridger returned to the UK Thursday.
Operation Tempura is code name of the UK Metropolitan Police investigation into possible criminal activities involving RCIP officers.
The investigation into Messrs Kernohan and Jones stems from an incident that occurred in the summer of 2007.
Court documents revealed last year stated former MLA and ex-Cayman Net News employee Lyndon Martin had gone to the RCIPS and the Governor’s Office to report concerns that Cayman Net News publisher Desmond Seales was receiving confidential police information from Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis.
In investigating those allegations, police enlisted the aid of another Net News employee, John Evans, who, at the RCIPS commander’s request, searched Mr. Seales’ personal office on 3 September 2007.
No evidence was ever found that such an improper exchange of information took place, and Mr. Ennis and Mr. Seales were cleared of any wrong-doing by the UK Met officers.
Mr. Martin was later hit with a slew of charges, including lying to police investigators and burglary. All but two of the charges against him have since been dropped.
Mr. Kernohan, whom Governor Stuart Jack put on required leave on 27 March, 2008 and then fired on 18 November, was incredulous the investigation took so long.
‘It is unbelievable that it took 13 months to reach this conclusion, which was blatantly obvious from the outset,’ Mr. Kernohan said in Friday’s press release. ‘[Governor[ Jack was fully aware of the circumstances regarding the early stages of the enquiry, having been briefed by myself and Chief Superintendent John Jones.’
Mr. Kernohan went on to state that Governor Jack and Mr. Bridger were informed early on by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie of his opinion that entry into the Cayman Net News office did not constitute a criminal offence.
In the statement issued Friday, Mr. Kernohan said he was not even in charge of the enquiry on 3 September 2007 ‘having asked [Governor] Jack to allow me to stand down several days earlier’.
Mr. Kernohan characterised the whole episode as an ‘absolute disgrace’.
‘This high cost to the people of the Cayman Islands is not only measured in millions of dollars, but also on the impact on law and order and the Caymanian reputation,’ he said.
‘My greatest regret is not being able to finish what I started with the fine officers in the RCIPS and the people of the Cayman Islands.’
Mr. Kernohan ended by stating with what he believes should happen now.
‘Bridger is gone. Jack needs to follow him now.’
However, Mr. Legge, speaking on behalf of Mr. Kernohan in a telephone interview, said the matter might not be over.
‘Civil action for damages is being contemplated,’ he said.
Jones still in limbo
Rather than seeking civil damages, Mr. Jones just wants his job back.
Speaking to the Caymanian Compass on Friday, Mr. Jones said he had not received anything in writing saying he would not be charged with a crime, but Acting Police Commissioner Smith had notified him verbally about three weeks ago. Mr. Jones said he was asked not to say anything right away about the Legal Department’s decision.
Although he will not be charged with a crime, Mr. Jones has not been totally cleared.
‘There are still some disciplinary matters that need to be sorted out,’ he said, adding that he will give his full cooperation to the police, as he has done from the start.
‘I’m confident that I haven’t done anything wrong, so I’ll submit myself to any process.
‘I look forward to proving my complete innocence in due course.’
Mr. Jones said getting his job back was his priority.
‘I’m hoping to resume my career,’ he said. ‘Through this whole thing, all I’ve wanted is to return to work to the RCIP.’
Mr. Jones isn’t sure of the timetable for the disciplinary matters to get resolved.
‘I know the current acting commissioner would like to get the matter resolved as soon as he can, and before [new Police Commissioner] David Baines arrives,’ he said.