A former prisons custodial manager is alleged to have engaged in “inappropriate behavior” with prisoners, according to correspondence obtained by the Cayman Compass last week.
The alleged behavior led to prisons Deputy Director Aduke Joseph-Caesar’s decision to place a camera in the office of that manager, Nina White, a decision for which Ms. Joseph-Caesar was suspended and eventually fired.
Ms. Joseph-Caesar won her job back last week, following settlement discussions with government officials.
Ms. White, who is originally from the U.K., left the prisons service after the expiry of her contract. The outcome of any review regarding Ms. White’s alleged actions has never been made public.
According to two letters received by the Cayman Compass last week, both signed by Ministry of Home Affairs Chief Officer Wesley Howell and dated Feb. 10, Ms. Joseph-Caesar’s attorney Clyde Allen was informed that she was cleared of all wrongdoing in connection with the matter.
The text of one letter read: “We hereby undertake that no further disciplinary proceedings shall be instituted against Ms. Aduke Natalie Joseph-Caesar, Deputy Director, Rehabilitation, attached to Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prisons Service (HMCIPS) in relation to the incident on or about April 2015, whereby Deputy Director Caesar issued instructions to a junior prison officer to install a camera in the office of the then-Custodial Manager, Ms. Nina White with a view to collecting evidence in relation to allegations of inappropriate behavior by Ms. White with prisoners.”
The text of the second: “I wish to confirm that there have been no findings of misconduct against Ms. Aduke Natalie Joseph-Caesar, Deputy Director, Rehabilitation, attached to Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prisons Service (HMCIPS) in relation to the incident on or about April 2015, whereby Deputy Director Caesar issued instructions to a junior prison officer to install a camera in the office of the then-Custodial Manager, Ms. Nina White with a view to collecting evidence in relation to allegations of inappropriate behavior by Ms. White with prisoners.”
Mr. Howell and prisons Director Neil Lavis were asked to comment further on the matter Monday, particularly with regard to Mr. Howell’s statements in the Feb. 10 letters regarding the alleged “inappropriate behavior” by the former prisons custodial manager, but no response was received from either man. Instead, the government information services office indicated that all matters regarding the Ministry of Home Affairs were now to be directed to the government information office.
“As per the legal advice received, the ministry has no additional comment at this time,” the government statement read. “The matter now resolved, was led by chief officer Howell. Prison Director Lavis has had no involvement in it.”
An earlier court filing in the case had raised questions about the involvement of former Ministry Chief Officer Eric Bush in the decision to terminate Ms. Joseph-Caesar.
When news of the hidden camera investigation became public, Mr. Lavis said it was “regrettable” that the prison employee’s privacy, referring to Ms. White, had been invaded. Two other prison officers were suspended in connection with the same incident.
Ms. Joseph-Caesar was initially terminated in November 2015 following a decision by former Home Affairs Chief Officer Bush after a review of all the evidence. However, according to various civil service employment laws governing the subject, while Mr. Bush had the authority as chief officer to appoint Ms. Joseph-Caesar, he did not have the authority to terminate her employment. That authority is granted under the Prisons Law to the prisons director.
Ms. Joseph-Caesar claimed in a request for judicial review filed against the government in January 2016 that this set of circumstances made her firing “illegal” and void. The courts approved a consent order on the matter in June 2016 and she was reinstated with full pay and benefits, only to be suspended again for another disciplinary review. The findings of that review have cleared the deputy director and she is now due back to work on Feb. 20, according to Mr. Allen.
Mr. Bush has told the Compass that he questioned the way the law was written. “I have the power to hire her, but not the power to fire her,” he said.
“The chief officer [of the Ministry of Home Affairs] acted illegally when he decided to, and did, conduct disciplinary proceedings,” the judicial review filing states, indicating that these proceedings should have been instituted by Mr. Lavis.