More cash for Met, tribunal

United Kingdom-led investigations into alleged wrong-doing within Cayman’s judiciary and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service will cost the Islands at least another $2 million in the next year, according to budget documents obtained by the Caymanian Compass.

Proposals for the upcoming 2009/10 fiscal year have set aside nearly $1.5 million for on-going investigations into the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and have earmarked another $480,000 for a judicial tribunal held here in May to review the actions of suspended Grand Court Justice Priya Levers.

The cash, if all is used, would bring the total spending on the UK Metropolitan Police probe of the RCIPS to some $7.5 million, including legal costs and a $1.275 million settlement paid to Grand Court Justice Alexander Henderson.

The total price tag for the Justice Levers Tribunal would come in at just below $2 million total, adding what was spent in the current budget year to what has been proposed for the upcoming year.

At this stage, it is not anticipated that any further spending would be required for the Justice Levers Tribunal. A decision on Mrs. Levers’ continued employment in the Cayman Islands court system is expected within the coming months, following tribunal members’ ruling.

However, it’s possible more money would be needed to continue separate investigations into the RCIPS dubbed Operation Tempura and Operation Cealt.

Operation Tempura, the initial corruption investigation that led to the arrest of and criminal charges against a deputy police commissioner and a former Cayman Islands MLA, is expected to be wrapped up soon, according to former Acting Police Commissioner James Smith.

Ex-MLA Lyndon Martin and suspended Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon are both scheduled to face trial later this year in connection with separate criminal matters investigated by officers from the UK Met team.

The Compass has learned witness summons were recently sent out for Mr. Martin’s trial, scheduled to begin 31 August.

The second stage of the UK Met-led investigation, Operation Cealt, remains a question mark.

Cealt consists of a number of unspecified complaints against RCIPS officers made by members of the public. Police Commissioner David Baines has said he is reviewing those complaints with an eye toward determining what level of investigation is required.

‘They are a running story that will have to run its course,’ Mr. Baines said earlier this month. ‘There’s little I can do about that.’

Governor Stuart Jack and Mr. Baines have previously indicated that some of the matters brought to the police are criminal in nature.

‘Something, which the public sometimes doesn’t always understand, is if the end result of investigations…is that if something is proven not to be true, then the community will be reassured by that,’ Governor Jack said earlier in the month during a police press conference.

The additional $2 million in spending for the police investigations and judicial tribunal for the upcoming budget year is only to get the government through 31 October, the first four months of the fiscal year.

The government still must draw up a completed spending plan for the entire fiscal year, which lasts through to 30 June, 2010.