Legal drama to cost Cayman

| 05/05/2009

(CNS): As the doors open to yet another legal drama in Cayman this Thursday, the estimate made by Governor Stuart Jack last year that the tribunal convened to hear allegations against Grand Court Judge, Madam Justice Priya Levers, would cost around $1 million is looking like a serious underestimation. Four separate teams of lawyers have now lined up to spend what is likely to be more than one week presenting, hearing and defending this case, which will be paid for by the Cayman tax payer.

A statement issued by the Chairman of the Tribunal, Sir Andrew Leggatt, yesterday (4 May) confirmed that Clifford Chance, one of the UK’s leading law firms will be supporting the tribunal along with Timothy Otty QC and by Joanne Larcombe, Secretary to the Tribunal, while Justice Levers will be represented by Stanley Brodie QC and Anthony Akiwumi of Stuarts Walker Hersan. Leggatt also confirmed that while Janine Sheff of Red Lion Court Chambers in London has been recognised by the tribunal as the legal representative of the Cayman Islands Government’s Legal Department, local lawyers Campbells will be representing a number of Grand Court judicial officers and staff members. All of the legal costs as well as the fees of the sitting tribunal members are being financed by the Cayman public purse.

The tribunal was appointed by Governor Jack on 15 September 2008 under section 49J of the Cayman Islands Constitution to inquire into allegations made against Justice Levers. Since the announcement, it has been revealed that the accusations concern a combination of factors, including the question of the authorship of letters written to Cayman Net News condemning the behaviour of some members of the judiciary, complaints made against Justice Levers regarding comments she has allegedly made in and out of the court room, and a bias against women, as well as concerns that she herself raised with the Chief Justice (and reportedly with the governor) about the conduct of some senior members of Caymans legal profession, among others.

The tribunal’s fact-finding hearings will begin on Thursday, 7 May, in the Inquiry Room at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort. The tribunal intends to sit on each weekday between 9:30am and 4:30pm, and on Saturday, 9 May, from 9:45am to 1:00pm. The hearings are scheduled to conclude on or before Monday, 18 May, and will be held in public.

So far Justice Levers has emphatically denied all of the allegations against her and has promised to defend them rigorously. Once the tribunal has heard the evidence against Justice Levers and she has presented her defence, the tribunal will then report to the governor and advise him whether he should request that the question of removal of Madam Justice Levers from office and be referred by Her Majesty to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Aside from Leggatt, the other tribunal members are Sir Philip Otton and Sir David Simmons. Sir Andrew Leggatt and Sir Philip Otton are Privy Counsellors and former Lords Justices of Appeal. Sir David Simmons is the Chief Justice of Barbados.

Category: Headline News

Comments (22)

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  1. Madness says:

     I find all of this quite disheartening and not making much sense. What is really going on? I am beginning to get a very bad feeling that something very major is amiss and it is all within our judiciary and police services which fall under the Governor and thus directly the FCO….

    I went back to the Governor’s original press release on the police situation and the alarming lanuage used instantly put me in a concerned state that something major would be uncovered only for a one year plus later for it to have just blown over, cost us a significant amount of money ($6.1M & counting) and NO ONE was held accountable??? Why are we not screaming at the top of our lungs for an explanation?? What are we missing here?? What is REALLY going on? This all started with a lie from Lyndon Martin and that’s it?? So is there corruption in the police force or not??

    Excerpt from Governor’s Press Release on March 27 2008:

    "However, in the course of their original investigation certain other matters — not in any way relating to Mr Ennis and Mr Seales — have come to light which now, in the interest of protecting the high standards of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, we must look into.  To facilitate those inquiries I have decided to send the Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon and Detective Chief Superintendent John Jones on required leave this morning.  This decision was not taken lightly. And of course I was also mindful of the high public office that these individuals hold. It was after very careful examination by me of the information that has been gathered to date as well as the advice I have received. At this stage I would like to add that I am extremely grateful for the valuable input received from the Attorney General’s Office.

    As with any public service there is sadly always the potential for people’s behaviour to fall short of what is expected of them. Frequently police officers are the targets of allegations and rumour. If there are suggestions that police officers have not lived up to the standards required and expected of them, it is important to establish the truth. Therefore I believe that the course I have taken today is necessary to protect the reputation of the Office of the Police Commissioner, the police service and the country as a whole."

    Nice Summary of events:

    http://www.caycompass.com/cgi-bin/CFPnews.cgi?ID=1036406

    fast forward to now notice no statement from the Governor……………………..

    from Acting Commissioner James Smith

    Update on Operation Tempura

    1 May 2009

    Following the conclusion of inquiries by the special investigation team into alleged criminal conduct by former Commissioner of Police, Stuart Kernohan and Chief Superintendent John Jones, the Attorney General’s Chambers has reviewed the files and hasconcluded that there is insufficient evidence to prefer any criminal charges against either Mr Kernohan, or Mr Jones.

    WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON??

     

  2. Anonymous says:

    If the calibre of the complainants  against  Judge Levers continue to be lacking in credibility like the one today , OMG are we the people going to have to pay out some coin to her.  Not a good start for the Governor and the Chief Justice,  I would say.

    Just another waste of our money by the Governor and Chief Justice in their attempts to ruin the good character of fine upstanding people in our community. 

    When will all of this nonsense stop and someone be held liable?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Desmond is very much a XXX stake holder in the current affair. He has thrived on the likes of such with relish. 

    His water bill has to be high.

  4. Twyla M Vargas says:

    TIRED OF BRITISH RULE?

    Got to throw in my two cents on this.

    I would rather anyday to be underthe rule of the British than America, or anyone else.  One thing about an Englishman if he like you he like you, and will see that you get a fair share of what is comming to you.   There is nothing hipocritical about them.  

    I would  rather working for them anytime, because you will get an honest pay for an honest job.   Is,nt that what we should expect.   Maybe I will get chopped up for saying this, but who cares?  I always tell it like it is, and I sure can take the licks.

  5. Brit Anya says:

    To those of "tired of British rule" pop over to Nassau or Kingston and see what benefits independence have brought.  The high standard of living in Cayman is because of British rule not despite of it.

    • Anonymous says:

       

      The PPM govt were swept to power largely on the basis that they apparently had proof of widespread corruption.  The situation created a media frenzy and people were undertandably outraged and voted accordingly.

      On taking power, the PPM  immediately insisted that the Governor instigate a whole slew of investigations.  The new Governor was no doubt given instructions from the FCO to spare no expense at routing out any corruption there was, afterall, HMG was not to be publicly embarassed or worse yet liable.  Indeed the UK decided to do the same in other overseas territories where there were similar concerns. It seems that the UK was suddenly taking their ultimate responsibility for good governance very seriously.

      This whole era of national suspicion, like a forest fire, rages on, because once unleashed, no one could effectively control it.  The fires had to burn where ever the winds blew them.  They almost have to die out naturally and run their course, or else they will spark to new life, as people will naturally cry foul if it apears there is undue interference.

      The whole situation will probably cause us to collectively take one giant leap towards Constitutional advancement. The UK will be happy as will our independence champions and those hungry for political power.

       

       

       

       

       

  6. THERESA says:

     This is not the only legal drama that will on-fold. we have the kernohan case coming too!!!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    First the Charles Clifford tribunal, then the Tempura affair and now the Levers tribunal. All costing us a fortune.  What do they all have in common?  The Cayman Net News.  I suppose it’s easier to sell newspapers when you’re creating so much news.

    • Anonymous says:

      "What do they all have in common? Cayman Net News"

      Quite true. But as regards the latter two situations there may be another interpretation of that-very different from yours. Namely, an odd, undignified, hypersensitive and  unseemly obssession on the part of at least two judges and then the RCIPS at getting information on the famous (infamous) letters to Net News about the Judiciary.

      As for Clifford, even the Commissioner of Enquiry pointed out that Seales acted as any journalist in his position would. He checked the sources and published-as Clifford wanted him to do.

      • Anonymous says:

        On Seales having "acted as any journalist in his position would," that may be so in the initial go round, but why do I seem to recall that Seales later filed a complaint with the Complaint Commissioner about the improriety of Clifford’s taking government files?

        Is that not true?  If so, then it does come back to Netnews and Seales.  What he did was use Clifford’s information and then later when things were not so good ratted on Clifford and se the whole inquiry into motion.

        If my memory serves me correctly, that is what happened — and that is something that no creditable journalist or publishing house would do: accept material from a source and then turn around and rat on him. 

        Creditable journalists never reveal their source — they go to jail rather than do so.

        I am sure if I am not correct on this, I will be set straight.  Please do.

         

        • Anonymous says:

          On Seales having "acted as

          You may be right. This poster is not defending Seales per se other than to try to make people see the situation somewhat differently from a "it’s all Desmond’s fault" perspective. The fact is some of our "legal people" (I suspect CNS is as nervous as others about using the J word) have behaved "oddly" over the infamous letters to Net News. That’s what’s really interesting about what may come out in the Levers Tribunal. And no one has yet commented on the fact that the Chairman Sir Andrew Leggatt has ruled that the Chief Justice has to give evidence and be cross examined-IN PUBLIC. What a staggering change of tune in the way our J……….operates. Holy Cow! They’re accountable.

          • Just the Facts says:

            "And no one has yet commented on the fact that the Chairman Sir Andrew Leggatt has ruled that the Chief Justice has to give evidence and be cross examined-IN PUBLIC".

            Yes, someone has – THE CAYMAN NET NEWS.

      • Anon says:

        "As for Clifford, even the Commissioner of Enquiry pointed out that Seales acted as any journalist in his position would. He checked the sources and published-as Clifford wanted him to do".

        If the information was confidential and Mr. Seales knew it was confidential, and Mr. Clifford acted improperly it follows that Mr. Seales aided and abetted him in acting improperly.  Had Mr. Clifford been a thief (and I do not say that he was) Mr. Seales would have been receiver of stolen property and under the law liable to be criminally charged. Mr. Seales cannot claim any moral high ground in this.  

        • Anonymous says:

          "As for Clifford, even the"

          Oh lord! You know nothing about journalism. Seales wasn’t abetting Clifford in receiving stolen goods! He’s a journalist for Heaven’s sake!! He did what any journalist would do. He checked for authenticity of Clifford’s documents then when it was obvious they were genuine he went with them!!! That’s why a very senior high court judge concluded Seales had done what any reasonable man would have expected him to do!

          Note, I’m not saying anything about Seales and "moral high ground"-that’s not what this post is about.

          • Anon says:

            "Oh lord! You know nothing about journalism. Seales wasn’t abetting Clifford in receiving stolen goods! He’s a journalist for Heaven’s sake!!".

            You have completely mangled the point the point I was making. Had the information been confidential information within the meaning of the Confidentiality Law both Clifford and Seales would have been guilty of criminal offences. Being "a journalist" would not be a good defence. It is pretty contemptible to deliberately publish information that you know to be confidential and then use the fact that they were confidential to damage your source. Is that good journalistic practice? 

            • Anonymous says:

              I think that if a source provides information to a media house (I am not prepared to call Seales a "Journalist"), the source is thereby asking for it to be published.  Otherwise, why would one provide information to the media house?

              I don’t fault a media house for printing material given to it (unless with regard to some poritons over which  the source had secured a  confidentiality agreement). I have never heard of any dispute over the actual publication of the material– that seemed to be the whole point of giving material over to a media house. 

              So I don’t think that aspect of it is being disputed — whether Clifford intended publication or not . (In fact, I recall reading in the paper reports of similar information coming from the electoral platform.)

              However, what has happened may be as revealing about the media house as it is about the source.  At least the source could claim (however, unsuccessfully in this case) that disclosure was int he public’s interest.

              What is most revealing about the media house ‘s professionalism is that, after benefitting from the publication of the material, it then "turned coat" on its source.  And by that I mean that the media house reported the matter to the Complaints Commissioner — which seems to have set the ball rolling on the hearing into the matter. 

              If the media house had thought that the material should not have been published, then it should have taken that position from day one and refrained from publishing and taken its concerns at that time to the Complaints Commissioner.

              Ratting on your source is despicable and no one should trust a media house with that track record.

              • Anonymous says:

                Er-ok- and your point? The legal profession here is not happy with the Levers thing because it may look a tad tawdry and our private sector lawyers make their millions off the notion that we have a terrific judicial system, hence their horror at  anything being said against our judges (true or not). The Levers thing is a strange thing for Cayman but so is the notion of the Chief Justice being asked to act as a normal citizen and testify. Thank God for Sir Andrew Leggatt. He may shine some light . 

              • Anonymous says:

                "I think that if a source…………….."

                Yes, so it’s all Desmond’s fault, that ‘media house’ not journalist guy. Nothing to do with our judges, Legal Dept, RCIPS. Just Desmond that son of a gun. Trying to bring our legal and judicial system down, the wicked fellow, by daring to be concerned about the activities of our-er-judges,Legal Dept, RCIPS when it comes to illegal entry of his office.

                Watch the proceedings of the Levers tribunal. If she and her lawyers are allowed to, disturbing stuff will appear-in public.

                Or will it!

                • Anonymous says:

                  It will be interesting indeed to see what comes out of the tribunal hearing on the Levers’ matter — but let us wait and see and not jump to conclusions.  Remember the tribunal only starts today.

                  On the matter of Seales — I wrote about his behaviour with regard to the Clifford matter in response to a poster who suggested that the media house did what any media house would do with regard to publishing information it obtained. (And I am not disputing that.)

                  I just felt that one small but very important point — a point that shows the calibre of the media house and how it treats its professional obligations — has not been given ample attention.

                  If a media house rats on its source — and apparently was ready to get in bed with the source earlier — then we must question its professionalism generally.

                  And this may be quite relevant to the Levers’ matter, coincidentally.

  8. Annoymous says:

    I hear you Richard, this Governor’s last day cannot come too soon.  I for one will be at the airport waving gallery so I can witness his departure.

    I hope the day will come when we will take our heads out of the sand and charge our Governors for poor judgement, and costly investigations.

    I hope the new Govenor will be different and if decides to walk the same road as this current Govenor then we should really think about recalling Governors or considering independence.

    I for one am tired of this British rule, it was never any good to us natives, so we should do away with it.

    Some say we will loose the world’s confidence.  What a joke, the world doesn’t give a hoot about confidence as long as you maintain your reputation then confidence will follow suit.  How many people of the world has confidence in the British system?  Certainly many lost it after 9/11 when they went to war with the US.  So stop being fooled by idiots who want to remain under the British rule to continue with their own corrupt ways.

    I support independence and good riddance to Gov. Jack.  I hope the entire Caymanian population will be at that waving gallery on his departure date.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      I will be glad to see him go too, but I won’t be in the waving gallery when he leaves, it might send the wrong message. It would probably be better if no one attended his farewell parties or his departure. That might bea clearer message of our dissatisfaction with him.

  9. Richard Wadd says:

     Wonderful !!  Could this be yet ANOTHER poorly-concieved waste of money from our already depleted purse??

    Would it not have been simpler (and possibly less costly) to have offered her a ‘severance package’ in light of dwindling public confidence in her abilities, and save US the Negative exposure, Time and Cost that this is sure to bring? Doesn’t anyone wear ‘Thinking-caps’ anymore??

    I am begining to wonder WHAT ‘Jack’s’ Directives REALLY were when he took-up the Governor’s Office?? Seems to me that no one Governor to these islands has done more to harm us than him !

    I for one will be glad to see him go.