Court finds cop not wrongly dismissed

Officer claimed he was offered ‘resign or else’ ultimatum

A former traffic cop who claimed he was forced to resign or face charges over serious criminal allegations, including drug trafficking, was not unfairly “dismissed,” a judge has ruled.

Former Royal Cayman Islands Police Service constable Herbert Muschette had filed a lawsuit claiming he was effectively wrongfully dismissed in July 2010. He was asking for his job back and $90,000 compensation for lost salary.

His claim was thrown out by Justice Alexander Henderson on Monday. The judge ruled that a senior officer had suggested to Mr. Muschette that he should consider stepping down, but that this did not amount to an ultimatum – “resign or be dismissed.”

He said Mr. Muschette’s recollection of a meeting with Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Brougham may have been “magnified and distorted” by the effects of stress and the fact that he did not take notes at the time.

The case hinged largely on conflicting evidence from the two men about what was said in this key conversation, six weeks before Mr. Muschette’s resignation.

Mr. Muschette, who was on sick leave for stress at the time, gave evidence that he had met with Mr. Brougham on June 8, 2010. He claimed the senior officer told him he had evidence that Mr. Muschette was dealing drugs, soliciting sex from female motorists in exchange for leniency on traffic offences and passing information to criminals.

He said he was told to resign or face trial and imprisonment. If he resigned, he claimed, he was told the threat of charges would disappear.

He has denied that he was ever involved in any criminal activity and no charges were ever brought on these allegations.

Mr. Brougham denied that he had given the officer a “resign or else” ultimatum. He said he had made Mr. Muschette aware of allegations against him and asked him to consider whether the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service was still the role he wanted to continue with.

The judge said it was “more probable than not” that Mr. Brougham’s recollection of events, based on notes taken at the time, was accurate. He said evidence from other officers supported the contention that the accuracy of Mr. Muschette’s recollection of events was questionable, though he accepted that the officer was trying to tell the truth.

He accepted that what Mr. Brougham had said to the officer did not amount to a threat that he would be dismissed if he did not resign.

The judge stated: “I accepted that Deputy Commissioner Brougham wanted him to resign and encouraged that. I am not satisfied that he could or would have caused Mr. Muschette to be dismissed had a resignation not been forthcoming.

“It has not been shown that the decision making process was defective as a result of the actions of Deputy Commissioner Brougham.

“What he said did not go far enough to amount to ‘resign or be dismissed.’”

Mr. Brougham did not have any personal responsibility for disciplinary proceedings and Mr. Muschette would have been entitled to a hearing before any action was taken, the judge said.

He accepted that the conversation between the two men was a contributory factor in Mr. Muschette’s eventual decision to resign.

Since he had already ruled that Mr. Brougham had not threatened him with dismissal, this had no bearing on the outcome and the case was dismissed.

The case hinged largely on conflicting evidence from the two men about what was said in this key conversation, six weeks before Mr. Muschette’s resignation.

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