Seeks court to review the case
A Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officer with 26 years of service is asking a court to review his May 2011 “retirement” from the department.
Apparently, according to the court filing made last week, the veteran officer – Osbert Whitfield Smith – didn’t know too much about that “retirement” until it took place.
“[Police Commissioner David Baines] erred in law … when he purportedly notified the applicant on 2 May, 2011, before his mandatory retirement age and without giving [Mr. Smith] the opportunity to comment or without giving reasons for his decision, that he had retired [Mr. Smith],” according to the application for judicial review filed on 10 April.
According to section 21(4)(a) and (c) of the Police Law [2010 Revision], the police commissioner may retire any police officer if he or she determines it to be in the public interest and the retirement is expected to improve the efficiency of the police service.
However, failing to give reasons for the retirement of Officer Smith is against the principles of natural justice and fairness as well as outside the Cayman Islands Constitution Order, the judicial review application claims.
The judicial review application seeks to quash the commissioner’s decision and to seek reinstatement with the award of any back pay and back due pension monies owed to Officer Smith.
The Caymanian Compass contacted the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service for comment on this story and received the following: “As the matter is subject to legal proceedings it would be inappropriate to comment.”
The newspaper has learned that Mr. Smith was earlier dismissed from his post following an internal disciplinary process, but later reinstated to his job on appeal. His “retirement” came after that reinstatement.
Mr. Smith’s attorney, Charles Clifford, also declined to comment about the case, which is still to go before a judge who will consider whether to grant a full judicial review hearing.
“[The police commissioner’s] decision to retire [Officer Smith] … was a decision that no reasonable authority could ever come to,” the application for judicial review states, noting that it would have been more difficult to challenge the commissioner’s decision “had [Mr. Smith] been a mediocre type of police officer”.
“[Mr. Smith] could not in any way be described as mediocre, in fact, exceptional would seem to be a suitable description,” the application continues. “[Mr. Smith] received various commendations over the years for the exceptional contribution he provided to the service. In one such commendation written to [Mr. Smith], the deputy commissioner [of police] opines ‘you are a fine example of what RCIP represents and expects of its members’.”
The judicial review application lists other achievements during Mr. Smith’s 26 years of service.
Mr. Smith’s employment contract was renewed biennially 13 times since he started at the RCIPS in September 1983. This series of contract renewals “also serves as an objective acknowledgement of the satisfaction of the standard of service [Mr. Smith] provided to the RCIPS”.
“[Mr. Smith] had a legitimate expectation that his contract would be renewed in September 2011. There is no evidence whatsoever which suggests [Mr. Smith] in any way lowered the high professional standard which he has held himself to since he commenced his tenure of service with the RCIPS.”