Politicians debate suing Governor

Members of the Legislative Assembly Thursday morning began a debate on whether the Cayman Islands Government should sue the UK government and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to recover costs of investigations into the local police and judiciary.

Independent MLA Ezzard Miller brought the motion that seeks for the government to agree to sue the UK in the London courts to recover the costs of the investigations, which a recent Auditor General’s report showed had cost Cayman at least $6.8 million.

The motion stated that there had been ‘much public discourse and expressed displeasure on the money spent on operations Tempura, Cealt and other investigations’ which had resulted in no successful prosecutions in the local courts, which would justify the large expenditure.

Mr. Miller, in his motion, which was seconded by Opposition MLA Anthony Eden, said the grounds for a potential law suit lie in the fact that he believes Governor Stuart Jack, the appointed representative of the UK government in the Cayman Islands, had committed ‘misfeasance in public office’.

He said this was defined as ‘the doing of an unlawful act in a wrongful manner’.

He added: ‘I am not in any way suggesting we take to the court the United Kingdom and FCO for the Governor and his team doing anything unlawful. What I am suggesting is while what they have done is legal, in my opinion, some of it could be interpreted as wrongful even though it was legal,’ he said.

Mr. Miller said the investigations had dealt a heavy blow to the confidence of the public in the police force and also in the international reputation of Cayman’s judicial system.

Prior to bringing the motion, the Leader of Government Business, McKeeva Bush, told the House that he had sought advice from a leading legal counsel in London because the motion raised ‘unprecedented issues of constitutional importance’.

Mr. Bush said: ‘Leading counsel’s opinion is that any claim against HE the Governor for damages for misfeasance of public office will stand or fall on whether it can be proved that the Governor acted in the knowledge, or with reckless indifference, to the fact that his acts were beyond his powers, and to the fact that his acts would probably cause loss or damage to the government of the Cayman Islands.’

He added that the lawyer had said that unless the Governor’s actions could be shown as being dishonest, any claim based on misfeasance in public office is ‘likely to be unsuccessful’.

Mr. Bush said the legal counsel had also advised that while taking action in the UK courts was possible, it would be more cost-effective to bring the action in the courts in the Cayman Islands.

He added that the Legislative Assembly would require the ‘clearest and most persuasive evidence’ before filing a law suit.

In his speech to the House, Mr. Miller insisted he was not bringing the motion in an effort to cover up any corruption in Cayman nor in an effort to provide a forum to attack the Governor under parliamentary privilege.

He said the investigation had cost about $8,000 a day, three to four times the average monthly salary of Caymanians.

He also accused the Governor and the FCO of holding the spectre of the Turks and Caicos over Cayman.

‘In my belief, that is a threat that they will do the same to us and that is disturbing to me,’ he said.

The debate continued Thursday afternoon.

For more updates, check www.caycompass.com.