Sanderson to testify

Former visiting Grand Court judge, Dale Sanderson, will testify before the Justice Priya Levers tribunal.

The tribunal authorised sending the judge documents from Operation Tempura, a police investigation that looked into, among other matters, letters that ran in the Cayman Net News, which some tribunal witnesses claim were written by Mrs. Levers.

Tribunal Chairman Sir Andrew Leggatt said the scope of evidence relating to Mr. Sanderson had yet to be determined, but that he would be expected in court.

At the beginning of Monday’s hearing, Sir David Simmons stated that he had been in the Cayman Islands when the Leticia Barton letter was published in the Cayman Net News, as part of an event being hosted by the chief justice for other chief justices in the region.

He said he had not seen the letter, nor taken part in discussions about it on a flight to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, or at a dinner that evening with fellow judges.

Mrs. Levers’ secretary, Elizabeth Webb, concluded her testimony on Monday. In cross-examination, the judge’s lawyer, Stanley Brodie QC, suggested she had made up some of the allegations against her boss because she felt her job was in jeopardy, but Mrs. Webb disputed this.

She said she had been upset when she had been asked to type up a reference from Mrs. Levers about a temporary replacement, and that she had also previously been asked to type up letters to the judge’s friends ‘putting me down’. She added: ‘That is ok; I forgave her.’

Mrs. Webb admitted she could not find a copy of an email sent to lawyer Karen Thompson about Justice Sanderson, and Ms. Thompson in a statement read out in court, said she had not received such an email.

The question of a petition signed by court staff complaining about Chief Justice Anthony Smellie was also raised. Mrs. Webb said she had found a copy of the petition in Mrs. Levers’ wastepaper basket, leading her to believe she had received a copy from a marshall of the court.

Mrs. Webb said she had seen the court marshall handing the judge an envelop, a suggestion that was refuted by the marshall who, in a statement read out by Mr. Brodie, said he had merely handed her an envelop with his pay slip so Mrs. Levers could assist him with a human resources issue.

Another secretary, Patricia Palmer, also took the stand on Monday. She told the court that Mrs. Levers had told her ‘Nobody is going to sully my reputation and get away with it,’ in response to a memo sent by the Chief Justice about the judge’s behaviour.

Ms Palmer said she had also believed the Leticia Barton letter was penned by Mrs. Levers because it had referred to matters the judge had discussed with her, such as the courts adopting a Canadian rather than English system.

She said the judge had regularly engaged in gossip about court personnel.

Mrs. Levers’ secretary, Lorraine Hennie, who had previously been the chief justice’s personal assistant, told the tribunal that the judge appeared to have ‘a favoured few attorneys’ who would gather in her office after the matters relating to their clients had been discussed.

She admitted that she could not hear what the attorneys and the judge discussed because the door was closed.

Mrs. Hennie testified that even in her job interview for the position of Madam Justice Levers’ personal assistant, the issue of the chief justice arose, but she refused to answer the question. She admitted that the judge may not have directly mentioned the chief justice, but said she knew the judge was talking about him based on previous conversations she had had with her.

Other court staff at the interview said in statements they did not recollect there being a question relating to the chief justice.

Mrs. Hennie told the tribunal that Mrs. Levers, during her time working for her, repeatedly indulged ‘in idle gossip’ about the court with her staff.