A small group of Cayman Islands lawmakers have broadcast allegations that local law firms have hired private investigators to follow them because of their opposition to the Legal Practitioners Bill, which is now under consideration in the Legislative Assembly.
These significant and sensational charges involve respected professionals in an important and high-profile industry. They are being made by presumably credible elected representatives of the people, who should apply the highest standards to their public remarks, whether they are uttered on the floor of the House with “parliamentary privilege,” or at a press conference.
“As a matter of national importance, I am therefore requesting that this matter be immediately investigated by the RCIPS, the Attorney General’s office and the Immigration Department as the actions of these individuals and their clients is a direct threat to the safety and well-being of members of this Honorable Assembly and our families and may constitute the breach of several laws, including the Immigration Law,” Bodden Town MLA Alva Suckoo said Monday in the House.
The potential seriousness of the charges behooves Mr. Suckoo, George Town MLA Winston Connolly and East End MLA Arden McLean to provide publicly some support for the accusations they have chosen to air publicly. In the absence of a scintilla of evidence or information, their claims appear to be as the Cayman Islands Law Society has described them: “damaging speculation.”
Put yourself in the MLAs’ shoes. If you think someone – disguised as a tourist, driving a rental car – has been following you, the first thing you would do is take down a description of the person and/or vehicle, including its make, model, color and license tag number. The second might be to take out your own cellphone and capture a photograph of the so-called “private investigator” (who could, of course, be anyone from an actual tourist, to a stalker, debt collector, police officer or random resident).
The next thing a person would normally do is to call the police, providing them with those specifics. Instead, it seems the primary instinct from MLAs Suckoo, Connolly and McLean was to make a speech in the Legislative Assembly, and to convene a press conference.
If the allegations are true, this should be the simplest crime in the world for police to solve. We imagine police, like the Compass and many companies, are on a first-name basis with the folks at the local rental car agencies. Armed with a detailed description of the rental vehicle and a specific time frame, it’s just a matter of calling up the car companies and asking, “Who rented this car?”
The alleged motivations of the law firms – i.e., countering the MLAs’ opposition to the Legal Practitioners Bill – are rather puzzling.
After all, those three MLAs (and their “independent” comrades-in-arms Bodden Town MLA Anthony Eden and North Side MLA Ezzard Miller) comprise a distinct minority of the 18-member legislature. It seems the bill has the support of most of the legal industry and, more importantly, of the majority ruling Progressives government.
In other words, the bill is most likely going to pass. And if it does not, that will not be as a result of anything the group of independent MLAs does, doesn’t do or is observed doing by a private investigator. When it comes to the passage of this bill, those independent MLAs are irrelevant. Why bother having them followed?
All of that being said, now that the matter has been reported to law enforcement, our police officers cannot sit on the charges and allow them to fester and potentially infect the reputation of Cayman’s financial services sector, the law firms in particular, and the country as a whole.
Police must investigate these bizarre allegations immediately and get to the bottom of the issue as soon and as definitively as possible. If it turns out there are private investigators, and they or their employers have broken any laws, they should be arrested and prosecuted swiftly.
On the other hand, if it turns out there are no private investigators, then officials should examine their remaining options – including pursuing actions in relation to filing a false police report.