Premier: We must restore faith in the Cayman Islands
While Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin was dealing with a number of international issues in London last week, no fewer than five major personnel issues arose in either his own office or within the government ministry for which he is responsible.
Mr. McLaughlin had spoken to the Cayman Compass earlier on two high-profile suspensions within the Immigration Department, including the temporary removal of the chief immigration officer. However, the premier had not addressed the firing of a Royal Cayman Islands Police officer who was convicted of murder in Jamaica, the resignation of a prison officer who had been listed as a sex offender in the U.S. based on a 2004 conviction, and the suspension of the premier’s political assistant, who was charged last week in connection with an incident outside a West Bay Road nightclub.
The premier spoke briefly about all of these matters in the Legislative Assembly on Monday.
“These issues cause me great concern, but I am satisfied that the appropriate actions have been taken in each instance, and I expect that the investigations will be carried out thoroughly and efficiently,” he said. “The Progressives-led administration is doing all that it can to continue to restore and maintain the good name of the Cayman Islands and, in so doing, will dig deep when allegations are made of wrongdoing.
“Placing our employees on administrative leave in no way implies their guilt of any accusation. It is a formality to protect them and the integrity of each investigation. This government will continue to take seriously and investigate any and all reports of maladministration and misconduct. If we cannot restore the faith of all in the Cayman Islands, then we have failed to do what was mandated of us in the polls in May 2013.”
It had not previously been announced that the premier’s political assistant, Kenneth Bryan, had been placed on required leave – essentially suspension with pay – after criminal charges were filed against him. The premier said Monday it was “with a heavy heart” he put Mr. Bryan on leave in the wake of the charges. Mr. Bryan has not spoken publicly about the Oct. 11 incident.
The matter involving former RCIPS Uniform Support Group officer Tyrone Findlay’s murder conviction has put Police Commissioner David Baines in the proverbial crosshairs of at least some Legislative Assembly members. One of the members, West Bay MLA Bernie Bush, called for Mr. Baines to resign or be removed from office lest Mr. Bush bring a motion of “no confidence” against him in the assembly.
Mr. McLaughlin called the Jamaican murder conviction “shocking news,” but urged lawmakers to be cautious in how they approached the matter. He said he would speak privately to Governor Helen Kilpatrick about it within the week. “While I and others have grave doubts about the constitutionality of [Mr. Bush’s no confidence motion], it is an example of the strength of feeling in relation to the commissioner,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “Despite the emotive nature of this matter, I urge all members of the House to exercise restraint in what is said and done in relation to this issue and to not act preemptively. If we act in haste, we are likely to repent at our own expense.
“The commissioner is appointed by the governor and does not fall under the remit of the elected government. Her Excellency is currently out of office and will not return until next Monday. I ask all members of this House to exercise patience to enable me to discuss this matter with Her Excellency the Governor and to give her the opportunity to address the concerns raised.”
Governor Kilpatrick, who was back on island over the past weekend, has not commented on any issue related to Mr. Baines or Findlay, the former police officer. Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush said he agreed with Mr. McLaughlin’s calls for caution and restraint on the subject.
The prison officer, who resigned Friday and whose name was not released by authorities, had been deported from the U.S. in 2009, according to public American court records. Prison officials declined to answer any questions regarding the circumstances of his hiring and whether any background checks had revealed the 2004 criminal conviction against him in New York State. “We are facing some pressing issues within the prison service,” Mr. McLaughlin said.
He also did not provide any further information regarding Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans’s suspension over “a number of allegations of misconduct.” Ms. Evans’s suspension on Dec. 1 followed the Nov. 7 removal of director of immigration boards Kimberley Davis on allegations that she had misrepresented the facts on a work permit form.
Neither woman has commented publicly on the allegations against them.