Archive for July 12th, 2014

Second case of imported chikungunya confirmed

| 12/07/2014 | 6 Comments

(CNS): The Public Health Department has now sent four blood sample from patients with suspected case of Chikungunya virus for testing and officials say that a second case has now been confirmed in a resident of Cayman Brac who had travelled to a country, which CNS understands was Guyana, where the mosquito borne disease is now endemic. As the virus spreads across the Caribbean, it is not yet present locally but officials are on alert to the possibility as more people travel around the region and become expose to mosquitoes carrying the disease. Officials confirmed that a third suspected case in a patient from George Town was negative and the Public Health Department is waiting for results on the fourth sample from another Brac resident.

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ICO: Release Tempura report

| 12/07/2014 | 31 Comments

(CNS): More than two years after a freedom of information request was made to the governor’s office and after a drawn out courtroom battle, the acting information commissioner has ordered that a report relating to Operation Tempura be released into the public domain. Following an order by the courts that the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) re-examine a new submission from the governor’s office over the documents, Jan Liebaers found that – except for a single segment on page 13 of the complaint – the records were not exempted under the Freedom of Information Law and ordered the office to release the controversial report about the bungled internal police operation.

The ongoing saga of Operation Tempura is still costing the Cayman tax payer as the governor’s office continues to fight to keep a lid on details of the investigation and in particular a complaint made by the leading investigative officer of the discredited probe, Martin Bridger.

Since this request was made, information about the documents has leaked into the public domain, raising more questions, not about the visiting UK cops sent to Cayman to investigate alleged corruption in the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, but the role of former Cayman governor Stuart Jack, the UK’s overseas territories security advisor Larry Covington and Cayman’s Attorney General Samuel Bulgin.

Accusations that these men knew all along about a clandestine entry into the office of a local newspaper to look for evidence of corruption is now at the heart of the issue of the Tempura fall-out, along with allegations in this complaint of cover-ups and lies and about how the costly internal investigation was managed. Accusations about the judiciary and inconsistencies by the governor’s office and the legal department are also believed to form part of the allegations in the complaint.

Once again the governor’s office has 45 days to release the documents, which three governors have now fought to keep hidden from the public view — Stuart Jack, Duncan Taylor and the current governor, Helen Kilpatrick. The governor can, however, once again appeal to the courts and continue the costly endeavour of keeping the document secret.

In his ruling Liebaers said that although the judge who heard the judicial review of the original ICO decision to release the documents, Acting Justice Sir Alan Moses had narrowed the matters in question to a review of whether or not the documents were exempt under section 20. Nevertheless, the information commissioner revealed that the governor’s office came up with more exemptions in its new submission, which he refused to consider.

“Despite the explicit, singular focus of the current reconsideration the Governor’s Office also asks me to consider additional exemptions which it claims are relevant, namely the exemptions in sections 16(b)(i), 16(b)(ii) and 17((b)(ii),” he wrote in his ruling. “I will not consider the new exemptions raised for the following reasons. Firstly, this reconsideration stems directly from the Judge’s unambiguous Order, which is very clear to the effect that my reconsideration should only be concerned with the application of section 20(1)(d).”

Liebaers emphasised the importance in this case of the public interest. The documents in question relate to a report on the reasons why Duncan Taylor, the governor at the time, dismissed a complaint made by the senior investigating officer and an attorney on the Tempura case.

“The allegations in the instant case were not merely of concern to the complainant but to the public in the Cayman Islands,” Liebaers writes. “The public … was entitled to know that the summary dismissal was the result of a conclusion reached after thorough and reasoned consideration.”

The commissioner pointed out that the public interest in ensuring that the summary dismissal of the compliant was reasoned and transparent was more important than the possible damage caused by repeating the allegations in the compliant in the public domain.

“Public authorities need to be, and need to be seen to be, accountable for the decisions they make, except where the information that would be revealed is itself exempted, which it is not in this case. The matters at stake do not only relate to the personal affairs of the complainant, as the Governor’s Office claims, but are of great public concern,” Liebaers stated. “I consider the public interest in knowing the reasons for decisions made by public authorities significant, and specifically so in regard to the Governor’s response to the allegations against the judiciary.

CNS has contacted the governor’s office to enquire if the report will finally be released of if the Caymanian tax payers will be picking up the tab for another costly courtroom battle.

See Liebers full decision below or visit www.infocomm.com.

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