Archive for April 22nd, 2013

Trial halted as defendant sacks attorney

| 22/04/2013 | 0 Comments

(court good.jpgCNS): Garry Hurlston, who was on trial for theattempted murder of Wesley Clarke, has been remanded back in custody to HMP Northward while he awaits a new trial date after sacking his attorney. Hurlston (41) is accused of stabbing Clarke in the neck at a party last June.  Following a catalogue of problems regarding his defence and several switches of counsel, Hurlstone once again finds himself unrepresented as he faces serious charges. Clarke, who slipped into a coma shortly after he was stabbed, has remained in a vegetative state since the incident. He is the only witness against Hurlston.

Acting Justice Nova Hall was presiding over the judge alone trial which stated last week but the case has now been suspended until the defendant, who has been on remand since his arrest a few days after the incident, can secure a new attorney and a new trial date will then be fixed.

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Jack’s culpability becomes focus of ex top cops

| 22/04/2013 | 5 Comments

commissioner_stuart_kernoha.jpg(CNS): Former RCIPS police commissioner Stuart Kernohan has joined with the lead investigator of Operation Tempura, Martin Bridger, calling for all of the facts surrounding the bungled police corruption investigation to be revealed. Kernohan, who was sacked by the previous Cayman Islands governor, Stuart Jack, and is still attempting to get some form of legal redress, has said there needs to be a full and open investigation into the controversial 2007-2009 probe and the role of Jack in particular, who, Kernohan claims, lied about a critical piece of information. Bridger has also stated in a complaint to Scotland Yard that, had the truth been told to him by Jack at the onset, Operation Tempura would have lasted no more than a few weeks.

Kernohan said theformer governor lied about authorizing the out of hours late night search by reporters at the Cayman Net News offices, where they worked, looking for evidence to support suspicions that a senior police officer was leaking information to the late Desmond Seales, Net News editor in chief at the time.

Following Bridger’s recent official complaint to the UK police, as reported in the British media last week, Kernohan has said he is fully supportive of a thorough Metropolitan Police investigation into the complaint of alleged criminal conduct during that period in the Cayman Islands. Bridger has made a direct allegation of criminality on the part of UK officials to the London police, as he was employed directly by Scotland Yard when he first came to Cayman undercover, posing as a real estate developer along with just one other UK officer.

Kernohan, who was once on the opposite side of the investigation to Bridger but is now backing the ex-Tempura boss in his calls for complete public exposure of the probe, said he has always been keen to see a full investigation and in particular the conduct of Jack.

“From the outset, and continuing until this day, I have called for a full investigation into the conduct of the Governor and member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Stuart Jack, Samuel Bulgin the Attorney General, the Chief Secretary George McCarthy, and others involved in this fiasco,” Kernohan said in a statement released on Friday. “I continue to call for a full investigation to ensure all of the facts and documents are made public into the operations and circumstances surrounding Operation Tempura. At nearly every juncture, these probes have been resisted or, in some instances, significant reports concealed and covered up by those with the power to release them. This leads to the inevitable question: What are they hiding?” the former top cop asked rhetorically.

Kernohan said his position on the issues was simple and straightforward: “Let’s have a comprehensive investigation to expose the facts, as I am not seeing it at the moment. Open up the memos, reports, emails and documents so all the information relating to the original investigation, Operation Tempura, can be made public. Show us the truth, the whole truth, I have nothing to hide,” he added.

Kernohan has already submitted a statement to the metropolitan police in connection with Bridger’s official complaint.

After he was removed from the investigation it continued for almost two years but did not result in a single conviction for corruption – merely a very big tab for the Cayman tax payer of some CI$10 million, including a significant damage payment to a judge for a wrongful arrest. However , Bridger has slowly been raising complaints about the FCO authorities and their role in the controversial enquiry.

In his complaint to Scotland Yard Bridger says he was never told that the governor had given the nod to Kernohan to allow staff members to enter the Net News office and look for evidence and, as a result, he treated that as an illegal break-in and his investigation focused on that, which is why Kernohan and his chief superintendent, John Jones, were suspended and  Net News reporter and former MLA, Lyndon Martin, was arrested for burglary.

In his redacted statement, Bridger says that his investigation proceeded on the basis “that Kernohan and Jones had gone on a ‘frolic of their own’ and had behaved unlawfully,” referring to both the commissioner and CS Jones, who coordinated the search of the office.

Although his statement released to the press has been redacted, it is clear that Bridger is referring to Stuart Jack when he states that he now has direct evidence in the form of witness statements that, despite what he was told by the governor at the time, not only was Jack fully aware of the search but had, in fact, authorised it.

“Had I had known this at the time the investigation would never have proceeded in the way which it did and all of the unfortunate events which have occurred since would not have taken place,” Bridger tells the Met in his complaint.

In his statement, Kernohan also says that the governor lied not only to Bridger but to the press as well when the news came out that he and two other senior police officers had been suspended and that a team of Scotland Yard officers were in Cayman conducting a police corruption investigation. 

“I set up a meeting with Stuart Jack and the attorney general, Samuel Bulgin specifically to brief them on the allegations and to discuss the use of a witness/member of staff of the Cayman Net News to recover the evidence who had full access,” Kernohan writes in the statement. “I held three meetings with Stuart Jack on 27th, 28th and 29th August 2007. The purpose of these meetings was to fully brief him on all the available information and discuss how to protect evidence prior to the arrival of an outside team.”

Kernohan documented the meetings in his police book and notes that Jack later denied any knowledge of the entry, despite the well documented meetings.

“There can be no doubt that Governor Stuart Jack was fully briefed, authorised the operation and was fully aware of all the details. These details included the type of operation, whom it involved, when and where it as going totake place. His authorisation and direct knowledge derived from the meetings with myself on three occasions over three days and the meetings with Chief Superintendent John Jones in the presence of witness Simon Tonge on at least two occasions.”

Kernohan then states that David Legge, editor of Grand Caymanian Magazine, had asked the governor at a press briefing in March 2008 if he had any knowledge of the police operation to enter the Net News on 3 September 2007.

“Mr Jack in front of many witnesses stated that he had only become aware of the operation on being briefed on it by Chief Superintendent Bridger after his arrival on the island. Mr Jack’s answer gave the clear impression that he was without knowledge of the entry either prior to 3rd September 2007, or afterwards until the arrival of Chief Superintendent Bridger. This was clearly not the case.”

As documents regarding operation Tempura remain under wraps and the full story is still secret, Bridger’s complaint is now in the hands of the Metropolitan Police in London, as he has alleged criminality on the part of the former governor as well as various other officials involved. 

See Kernohan and Bridger’s statements to the Metropolitan Police below.
 

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Churches get $600K in 2013

| 22/04/2013 | 44 Comments

(CNS):  Although the government faced with one of its toughest budgets ever and had to increase taxes to produce a surplus budget under significant pressure, more than CI$604,000 was given to 11 churches during this financial year from the controversial Nation Building Fund. Despite the return of $50,000 from Hillside Chapel in Cayman Brac and the promised return of $100,000 from Red Bay Church of God, more than $450,000 was still given out for various programmes and projects to local churches, some of which have received previous grants in dramatically different amounts and all of which were directly approved by the premier.

The list of churches benefitting from the fund this year was released after a freedom of information request by CNS, made following an announcement by the current premier, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, during election season about a donation from the fund for the church she attends. According to the list, at least one church has had a second donation this year.

The Church of God in Frank Sound received $100,000 in this financial year, having already received $50,000 in the previous hand-out from the fund during 2011/12 for construction work at the church site. The grant amounts vary greatly, with some receiving less than $10,000 while others have received multiple grants since the fund was created, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The reasons for the grants are also diverse, from the cost of repairs for property damaged in hurricanes to the purchase of buses, while the First Assembly of God received cash for its Singing Christmas Tree during this year’s annual holiday celebrations.

Since the controversial fund was established by former premier McKeeva Bush in the 2010 budget, some $10 million has been handed out to a variety of churches, charities, community projects and to students unable to get scholarships through the education ministry. In this financial year alone more than $0.4million has been handed out at what appears to be the sole discretion of the UDP leader. According to the current PNA Cabinet members, no committee was ever established to hand out the funds and each application was considered directly by Bush.

See the latest list of church grants below, and the list of previous NBF recipients.

 

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