Kernohan gives evidence

Former Commissioner of Police Stuart Kernohan gave evidence via video link on Thursday in the trial of Lyndon Martin.

Martin is being tried for tending and intending to pervert the course of public justice by falsely accusing Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis of passing sensitive information to Cayman Net News publisher Desmond Seales.

Mr. Kernohan said Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon came to him in August 2007 and told him Martin had made that serious allegation. He said Martin was willing to provide a statement but not willing to give evidence in court. He wished to remain anonymous.

Around that same time, Mr. Kernohan related, he received a phone call from then Leader of the Oppositon McKeeva Bush – now Leader of Government Business – about a leak within the police service. They met in a public area of the Ritz-Carlton and Mr. Bush referred to ‘the bald-headed one’. Mr. Kernohan asked if he meant Mr. Ennis and Mr. Bush said yes, but added that his information was third-hand.

He said he spoke to Chief Superintendent John Jones, who said he might have to undertake an investigation. The two of them met with Martin, who referred to Mr. Ennis being in contact with Mr. Seales on an almost daily basis about police activities.

There was no documentary evidence, but Martin then wrote a letter, addressed to the governor, but handed to Mr. Kernohan and containing specific examples of alleged leaks.

Later Martin said he had no hard copy of any document from Mr. Ennis to Mr. Seales, but he had recently seen an original that existed in Mr. Seales’ office. Then he said he saw a three-inch folder with e-mails from Mr. Ennis – that the box was full of them.

Mr. Kernohan said he had the allegation by Martin and corroboration from Net News reporter John Evans. He himself was stepping back from any investigation because he had asked for officers from outside the local force to look into the matter. He said that was standard procedure in the UK when a senior officer was involved.

Martin had agreed to obtain copies of documentation, but did not. Mr. Evans looked for documents on the night of 3 September 2007, but he did not find anything.

Martin Bridger and Simon Ashwin arrived a few days later from the UK Metropolitan Police. Within three days they asked to speak to Mr. Kernohan. He sad when they met, almost the first words Mr. Ashwin said to him were ‘Now about this burglary‚Ķ’

Mr. Kernohan said he was immediately concerned that the Met team had already reached that conclusion, which he considered a fundamental error. Later he wrote a confidential memo to then Chief Secretary George McCarthy predicting what could go wrong if Operation Tempura continued as they had begun.

Mr. Kernohan said he was concerned there was not sufficient control by local authorities and he feared the Tempura officers did not have knowledge of local laws, customs and procedures. He was concerned about the constitutional position of the commissioner of police, who should have had the ability to oversee the operation.

His view was that at an early stage Tempura officers had dismissed the allegations of Martin, elevated Mr. Evans as a witness of truth and were approaching the matter on the basis that Mr. Seales was a victim.

Mr. Kernohan said he was concerned that the officer tape recorded interviews and then Mr. Bridger prepared witness statements from the tape for the witness to sign.

‘I didn’t consider it appropriate and it wasn’t the way I would have proceeded,’ Mr. Kernohan said. He agreed with Defence Counsel Trevor Burke that there was a danger that some important part of the interview could get left out of the statement.

On 27 March 2008, Martin was arrested, Mr. Kernohan continued. At 8am he was called into the Governor’s office and required to go on compulsory leave, as was Mr. Jones.

He agreed with Mr. Burke that it all turned on the entry by Mr. Evans into CNN offices, that Mr. Kernohan had approved and endorsed it. He discovered later that Chief Justice Anthony Smellie had refused to issue a search warrant against him because no burglary had been committed. But he was suspended because of it and dismissed from the force in November 2008.

He has since filed a civil suit.