One of two review cases filed
The second of two judicial review cases filed against the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service by its own officers last year will end up costing the department some cash.
A police service inspector who was demoted to the rank of police constable last year has been reinstated, along with all back due pension and salary emoluments from mid-September. H. Phillip Ebanks, the attorney who represented Inspector Richard Harford in the judicial review proceeding filed last year, said that his client and the department came to an agreed settlement just before the judicial review proceeding was set to begin on 26 March.
Mr. Ebanks said Mr. Harford was fully reinstated based on a decision from Thursday. E-mails to the police service seeking comment on the matter were not returned. According to Mr. Ebanks, the agreement means the earlier decision to demote Harford had been “quashed”, his reinstatement has been approved, and all benefits due to him during the period between 18 September and 8 March would be paid along with attorneys’ costs. “It was an order arrived at by mutual consent of the parties,” Mr. Ebanks said. “He will receive all his pension benefits and back pay … the motion took place as if all this had never happened.”
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Officers Association released the following statement on Mr. Harford’s matter Saturday: “The police association supported the officer and is pleased that the matter has been resolved and he will be back to work soon.
“From the beginning, we had concerns as to [the department’s] conduct and where the deputy commissioner got the powers to render such a verdict. We were also disappointed that the commissioner of police failed to act in preventing further emotional injury and financial cost to the officer, financial cost to the association and the taxpayers of the Cayman Islands,” the statement continued.
“The conduct of this incident is another good example of the challenges faced by the officers and demonstrates how complex and costly seeking recourse can be without an adequate appeal process. This case also demonstrates why some internal investigations need to be dealt with by an independent outside body.” The initial decision to demote Inspector Harford came after a disciplinary hearing, according to court records reviewed by the Caymanian Compass.
Mr. Harford was accused of violating two sections of the police regulations regarding conduct for officers in relation to an incident where a police service special constable was prevented from leaving the Cayman Islands.
According to the police Professional Standards Unit disciplinary charge: “[Mr. Harford] caused a stop notice to be placed on the immigration file of Mr. Altemond Rowe, a member of the special constabulary, at the Owen Roberts International Airport without there being a criminal investigation being carried out against the said Mr. Rowe.” In addition, Mr. Harford allegedly represented that a police sergeant was investigating an offence committed by Mr. Rowe “knowing that such representation [was] false”.
According to court records, Mr. Harford denied both the charges, but was demoted as a result of the disciplinary action taken against him by the department. In seeking a judicial review of the matter, Mr. Harford claimed that there was either no evidence or insufficient evidence to support the demotion ordered by Deputy Commissioner Steve Brougham.
“The … decision of Deputy Commissioner Brougham is irrational, unlawful and ultra vires (Latin term meaning ‘outside the law’),” the judicial review application claimed.
The judicial review document also stated that an “unlawful” decision was made by Police Commissioner David Baines to refuse to hear an application to review Mr. Brougham’s decision.
According to a 5 September, 2012, judicial review filing, an attorney acting on behalf of Constable Cardiff Robinson sought access to a prosecutor’s case file and ruling from July where the director of public prosecutions “chose not to pursue a criminal charge of assault by a senior police officer against [Mr. Robinson] and gave her reasons for doing so”.
The application seeking leave for judicial review by the Grand Court requested the immediate disclosure of the case records.
“[Mr. Robinson] is currently considering bringing civil proceedings against the police commissioner and requires access to the ruling and the criminal file, especially witness statements known to be contained in the said file,” according to the judicial review application.
The police constable’s judicial review request states that on 15 February, 2012, he filed an incident report with the police service “which complained of an alleged assault against [Mr. Robinson] by a senior police officer, [Chief Inspector] Frank Owens in charge of George Town district policing”.
Speaking before the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee in early 2012, Commissioner Baines referenced the incident. “Certainly, from the nature of it, no assault has taken place, even though there is somebody suggesting it has taken place and yet it has hit the media,” Mr. Baines said.
“On or about 30 July, 2012, the director of public prosecutions advised that a criminal charge of assault was made out against [Mr.] Owens, but a decision had also been made not to proceed with a charge against him on the grounds of public interest immunity,” the judicial review application stated.
Mr. Baines’ comments to the LA were made prior to the file being forwarded to the director of public prosecutions for legal advice on 26 March.
The file prepared by the prosecutor’s office was not turned over to Mr. Robinson or his attorney, the judicial review application claimed.