Caymanian cop’s firing called ‘indefensible’

A veteran Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officer who had his contract renewed in October 2011 and was fired two months later is now seeking judicial review of the police service’s actions against him.

John James Morrison sued Police Commissioner David Baines and Deputy Governor Franz Manderson seeking to overturn the “non-renewal” of this contract on Dec. 20, 2011, two months after Mr. Morrison’s attorneys claim the working agreement was approved for a further three years.

The RCIPS said Tuesday that it does not comment on matters subject to judicial review.

“The RCIPS had advised him in writing on Oct. 17, 2011 that the renewal of his contract for a further three years had been approved,” the judicial review application filed by local attorney Charles Clifford states. “On Nov. 4, 2011, [Mr. Morrison] officially informed the RCIPS that he had been granted the right to be Caymanian.”

According to the judicial review application, Mr. Morrison’s contract should have been switched from a fixed-term agreement to an open-ended agreement upon his receipt of Caymanian status in June 2011.

Instead, Mr. Morrison received the following in December: “This is to inform you that your contract, which expired Oct. 2, 2011, will not be renewed. I have made the decision to discharge you from the RCIPS as per section 16(2)(b) of the Police Law, 2010.”

The relevant section of the Police Law allows an officer to be discharged from the force at any time “if, in the opinion of the commissioner the retention of his service would be contrary to the public interest.”

Mr. Morrison states in the judicial review application that he was never given a reason for the dismissal.

Over the next two years, appeals of the termination from the RCIPS were pursued with the police service and the then-Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, which at the time had oversight responsibility of the RCIPS. Finally, in May of this year a case was heard by an appeal advisory panel, but Mr. Morrison’s attorneys said nothing has been heard since.

“Five months have now passed … and yet there is still no decision on [Mr. Morrison’s] appeal, notwithstanding the fact that the attorney general’s chambers had previously advised the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs that [the police commissioner’s] decision to discharge the applicant from the RCIPS is indefensible,” the judicial review application states.

In arguing the need for a local judge to review Mr. Morrison’s case, Mr. Clifford cited a particular matter that came before the U.K. House of Lords in a 1982 case styled Crown vs. Chief Constable of North Wales, where it was determined that the chief constable’s decision to give an officer a choice of resigning or being dismissed was contrary to the rules of natural justice and fairness because the chief constable did not give the officer an opportunity to be heard in relation to the allegations against him.

Quoting from the 1982 case: “I think it only too likely that it was precisely this belief that [the chief constable’s] discretion was absolute which lead to the cavalier treatment to which, in the event, the respondent was subjected.”

Mr. Clifford cited the application for judicial review in Mr. Morrison’s case as a modern-day example of the same type of behavior by officialdom.

“The draconian manner in which [the commissioner of police] chose to reach his decision to discharge the applicant … is a regrettable example of this observation,” the court application states.