Judge stops report release

| 28/11/2009

(CNS): Following a judicial review heard behind closed doors on Friday, the tribunal’s report concerning suspended Grand Court judge, Justice Priya Levers, will remain under wraps until the Privy Council says otherwise. CNS understands that the governor has given an undertaking to the court not to release the report by Andrew Leggatt, the chair of the tribunal of enquiry into allegations of misbehaviour on the part of Levers, before the question is considered by the Privy Council in London. Justice Angus Foster reportedly ruled that publication should be determined by a judicial committee of the Privy Council and not the governor.

The application for a judicial review, which took place in Justice Foster’s chambers, was made by Levers’ legal team following a move by the governor to release the report after an FOI request was made by a local journalist. Levers sought to stay the release of the report on the grounds that the governor had said it would not be published until after her case was heard at the Privy Council and that for him to do so was unfair.

In legal documents filed in the Grand Court earlier this month Levers’ attorneys, Stuarts Walker Hersant, argued that, not only would the release of the report before the case is concluded be against natural justice, the governor had stated publicly in a press release and in the media that he would not publish the contents until after the case went to London.

However, the governor appeared to have changed his mind and made a decision to release the report on 2 November, which is when Levers’ legal team moved to stop the application. Following his receipt of Leggatt’s report in August, Jack had clearly stated that because “the case is ongoing and will be referred to the Privy Council the governor is not at liberty to release the report.”

The governor. who had his last day in office today (Friday 27 November), will leave the island next Wednesday, and if he still wants to release the report he will now need to seek approval directly from the Privy Council, a move which could see the already significant costs to the Cayman purse climb further.

Sources close to the case suggest that making an application to the judicial committee of the Privy Council to have it released before the substantive hearing could add as much as $700,000 to the bill, which is already expected to exceed $1.5 million. The governor has reportedly hired legal firm Clifford Chance to represent the CIG at the main hearing, but the Cayman government will also have to pay the Privy Council’s legal fees as well as those of Justice Levers.

A source close to the case told CNS that it was difficult to understand why the governor would pursue the goal of releasing the report before the Privy Council hearing as it was exempt under FOI because if formed part of ongoing judicial proceedings. “Since this comes within the exceptions as set out in the Freedom of information Law, one wonders why the governor has chosen to do this literally days before he leaves the island.”

The governor has agreed throughout these proceedings that the Cayman government will not only pay the costs of pursuing the case against Levers but will also foot the bill for Levers’ legal team as well, so if he seeks to gain leave to publish from the judicial committee the money will have to be found for Jack’s or the new governor’s legal advisers as well as those of Justice Levers.

According to the appropriation in the 2009/10 budget, $800,000 has been set aside for legal proceedings related to the whole case. However, CNS understands most of that has been used to pay the bills from the previous tribunal proceedings and funds do not appear to have been allocated to cover any of the forthcoming Privy Council fees, which are expected to be incurred in this financial year.

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  1. John Evans says:

    My concern (and I know this is repeating myself) is that this little ‘sideshow’ is diverting attention from the one unresolved issue in this matter – the letters.

    I was, albeit unofficially, involved in that side of the investigation long before all the other allegations were made against Justice Levers. In fact it seems that the letters triggered off the other complaints not, as has been suggested in some quarters, the other way round.

    All we know right now is that Justice Levers did not write the letters and that during the tribunal contradictiory evidence was given by the two witnesses directly involved in their publication. But those letters triggered of this whole expensive enquiry and it only seems right that their source, which has been suggested in the tribunal transcript, is determined – if for no other reason than to satisfy concerns that all those who were the subject of this investigation, particularly any witnesses who could have given misleading evidence while under oath, are not being treated equally under the law.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr. Evans, we don’t want your obsessions to become a diversion from the central issue here – Cayman justice and the issue of whether the Judge was properly suspended from the bench.  We don’t really care about the letters we just want a top quality judiciary.  Please meddle with British affairs now you have moved back and leave us alone – no good has ever come from your presence here.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Can we assume that this report says the the Judge was a leader in her field and a stable credit to the profession?  That would be why her lawyers were desperate to keep it secret, yes that would be the reason.

    • Anonymous says:

      Clearly, if the report had exonerated her completely the matter would not have gone to the Privy Council.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The transcripts of the hearing are available verbatum, the same information the tribunal used.  Everyone can make their own judgements if they so desire, so why cost the country more money for something that will eventually be completed and why risk tainting the "case".

    I read the transcripts and I think it is just another bunch of bad "judgements" that no will admit to.  Justice Levers has not done Cayman any injustice nor has she broken any laws according to what was published in those transcripts. I guess she was not allowed into the "good-ole-boys" club therefore their corns got crushed and in turn they "showed her". 


  4. Joe Average says:

    Say what???  The CIG is paying the costs for pursuing the case against justice Levers??  And paying justice Lever’s legal bill??  Recently, there was mention of funding for legal aid as an unnecessary and costly expense for government to pick up the tab for.  But apparently, an estimated cost of 1.5 million dollars for both the investigation and the defence is not out of line with their desire for prudence. I would expect also that the justice is on leave with full salary while this case unwinds.  Stranger than fiction. 

    It will be stranger still if the justice is found guilty of abuses of office, and is then not made to re-imburse the CIG for IT’S legal costs AND return the salary paid while she defended herself.  Otherwise justice is truly blind.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Even on his last day Jack still trys to find ways of wasting our money. It is absolutely ridiculous that he can continue to pursue this in our name and with our money and we have no say.

    Why the hell in this sad state of affairs would we want to spend close to another million dollars to have this report published, Those starved for news can wait, I say. What is the difference between seing it then and now except spending millions of dollars.

    Thank God someone finally stood up to Jack albeit giving him the license to waste more of our money because he didn’t get his way.

    I can’t for Wednesday. What a glorious day that will be when we get JACK OFF this island!!