Top Cop denies he is AWOL

| 10/09/2008

(CNS): Suspended Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan has called Governor Suart Jack "factually incorrect" after he claimed that Kernohan had ignored three requests to return to the Cayman Islands in regard to the ongoing independent investigation into allegations of police corruption. There also seems to be some uncertainty as to where Kernohan actually is. The Governor said that, as a result of the Commissioner’s continued absense, he was beginning disciplinary proceedings.

Governor Jack said that after granting Kernohan compassionate leave for a considerable period during his father’s illness and subsequent death, he had since formally requested Kernohan’s return.

“Throughout July and August I asked him, through his attorney, to come back on three separate occasions,” said the Governor. “To date the Commissioner has not complied with any of my instructions, and with all three deadlines for his return now expired, he would currently appear to be in violation of the terms of his employment, according to which he can only be absent with my agreement.”

Moreover, there seems to be some uncertainty as to whether the Governor’s office or the investigating team know Kernohan’s whereabouts. CNS asked if they knew exactly where he was at present and the office stated: "The Governor is in contact with Mr Kernohan through his solicitors, and as stated, Mr Bridger will interview him either here (if he returns) or in the UK."

Speaking from an unspecified location through his local liaison, publisher and  journalist David Legge, Kernohan denied that he was violating anything. "The Governor is factually incorrect as to the basis of my ongoing leave,” he said in a statement. “I am on leave as required by the Public Service Management Law. In fact, the Governor of the Cayman Islands has no power in law to direct or control where I reside during the course of my period of required leave.”

Kernohan continued, “It is disappointing that the Governor should seek to air matters regarding the terms of my employment in a public forum such as the mass media, including the threat of disciplinary proceedings.”

In a public statement made on Wednesday evening (10 September) the Governor said that Kernohan’s failure to return was a great disappointment as he thought Kernohan would honour his undertaking to return following the death of his father.

“In light of this and after careful consideration of all the circumstances, I have decided today to initiate disciplinary action against Mr Kernohan, and will be taking further legal advice regarding his contractual obligations. My decision allowing Mr Kernohan to be with his father was a reasonable one, made in good faith and based on strong compassionate grounds.  I take full responsibility for that decision,” the Governor added.

Jack went on to say that he had discussed Kernohan’s failure to return with the investigation team headed up by the Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger. He was assured that the investigation into the allegations of misconduct in a public office against the suspended police commissioner would continue and Kernohan’s absence did not undermine the investigation.

“Mr Bridger also confirms that his team will make every effort to interview the Commissioner regardless of his location,” said the Governor. “I therefore reiterate that regardless of where Mr Kernohan is, the investigation of his alleged misconduct in a public office will continue. I believe it is important to pursue this specific investigation to its full conclusion. In fairness to Mr Kernohan and the community, it is necessary to legitimately prove or disprove any allegations against anyone involved before putting the issue to rest.  We must continue to assume innocence until proven guilty.”

Kernohan insisted that he had always made himself available. "I have taken the initiative on several occasions to assure Mr Bridger that I would welcome an interview with him at the earliest convenience," added Kernohan."However last month, Mr. Bridger did notify me that my presence was not required at this stage as part of any ongoing investigation." Kernohan added that the Governor had admitted as much in his statement.

"I can assure the people of the Cayman Islands that I would welcome an outside independent inquiry into all of these matters and those involved, including the Governor, the Chief Secretary, the Attorney General, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Mr Bridger and his investigating team," Kernohan said.

In his statement yesterday the Governor also raised the issue of the police helicopter acquisition, saying that its purchase would not form part of Bridger’s investigation but would be dealt with through normal government channels, and a review was under way. “I will be asking the Auditor General to conduct a special investigation into the acquisition of the helicopter.  It is in the interest of good governance that we review our processes to establish if indeed adequate checks and balances were in place in this instance,” Jack said. In response, Kernohan said he would shortly be issuing another statement regarding that issue.

The Governor stressed yesterday that there were now three separate issues pertaining to Kernohan, which included the criminal investigationinto alleged misconduct in a public office, the disciplinary process regarding his non-return to the island, and the issue of the acquisition of the helicopter. “All three issues will be dealt with fairly and objectively and I will continue to keep the public informed,” he said.  

Kernohan is currently receiving full salary, as are Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon and Chief Superintendent John Jones, who are also suspended from duty, and in Dixon’s case facing charges. “This issue is unprecedented in the senior ranks of the RCIP and I am currently taking advice on this matter as to whether this arrangement will continue or will be subject to change as the investigation proceeds,” Gov Jack added.

He described the whole investigation as unprecedented with many difficult, multi-faceted issues, which he said prevented him from sharing all of the information with the community as the process moves forward without prejudging certain outcomes or jeopardizing aspects of the investigation. He said he received frequent updates from Bridger and had full confidence in his team.  

“Although not always flattering, I do fully understand the passionate expressions of interest from the community in these matters. However, I ask everyone to be responsible in their discussions by focusing on the facts rather than rumour and innuendo. In the end we all have the same goal – to ensure sound and accountable government in the interests of the people of the Cayman Islands,” the Governor said.

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Comments (19)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We need to have a "cop watch" to watch these "crabs in a bucket" we employ with so many benefits.  I suggest the entire RCIP be randomly tested for the use of illegal drugs.  

  2. Anonymous says:

    Does the Government/Governor have no power to demand Mr. Kernohahn to come back? This is not exactly a minor matter. This is the "Chief" of Police and other senior officers being accused of irregularities.  If we cannot have any trust in the Police, then we really are in a mess.  If Mr. Kernohahn has no problem coming  back, why is he not on his way here now?  As far as I’m aware, British Airways has pretty regular direct flights. If he is not willing to come back, why doesnt someone go the UK and get him?  

    Regarding the helicopter, I agree that this was not only the Commissioner’s decision and some of the MLA’s running around saying "its not our fault" need to realise that you can delegate authority and responsibility but you cannot delegate accountability. It’s hard to believe that Mr. Kernohan was the only person signing the contract.  Whoever else was involved in making the decision to buy the helicopter and/or signing the contract had a responsibiltiy to the people of the Cayman Islands to ensure that it was what was needed to do the job, the price was fair and there were no conflicts of interest.  As leaders of this country, they are accountableand cannot escape their accountability.

    As we saw with the UCCI, it is way past time that ex patriate people employed in this country should have thorough back ground checks done on them before they are employed.  Qualifications and references and police records should be checked properly and its time a finger print machine was installed at the airport which would allow Immigration to verify the identities of people coming in to the coutnry.   There are very thorough checks in place for students applying for scholarships with UCCI and these checks should be carried out whenever someone is employed in a high Government position. 

     

  3. smitty says:

    Serious Corruption problems has come to the Cayman islands because the Current RCIPS leadership were responsible for the removal of officers like Mr Haines on allegations which they are now being investigated for. Is that not Ironic. This Corrupt leadership has been elevated and promoted and were thriving under Mr Kernohan’s watch. No one is surprise by the current situation or events.What we have to understand is this is not Mr Jack’s fault however he is the first to make and attempt to fix it. I do recall certain members of this leadership holding hands with certain politicians who are the same people who attacked officers like Mr Haines. Some folks need to stop playing games and support the Governor for a change. and I quote "he is running the Drug Task Force out of his Back pocket" said by a minister during a debate at LA.What will he say now.Better yet  ask him who was his sources at the RCIPS. AAAAAAH Bwoy scandal in di town.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the other write….  Derek Haines would have made a great Commissioner.  He was very fair and the islands made alot of progress in the fight against drugs when he was in charge of that section.  Derek Haines…go back to the Police please..we need you.

  5. Anonymous says:

    We should be very careful before we pass judgement without getting all of the facts. IF indeed it is that there has been any ‘Breech of Trust’, the real issue hear is an obvoius absence of  ‘Checks & balances’ in our government. In other countries, some politician would be resigning about now, instead of pleading ignorance. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    Once a crook, always a crook!!

     

  7. Anonymous says:

     

    Say what you like about our friends in Central America but if they wanted to buy a Helicopter it would have been someone from THEIR COUNTRY going to buy it and someone from THEIR COUNTRY going to learn how to fix it and someone from THEIR COUNTRY going to learn to fly it!! Cayman should get raped for being so simple minded and also always thinking that US, THE CAYMANIANS of this country still sit down and allow people to treat us like we have no sense and believing that it has to be done by someone from a foreign country for it to be down right!! I along with lots of other Caymanians love airplanes and could have helped in the selection of the right "Chopper" for these Islands!!

  8. sturm and drang says:

    The unfolding of the many significant issues involving various arms of the executive here sends a clear message that the structure of our government is fundamentally flawed and is ill-serving the community. Neither the elected wing (PPM) nor the ex officio wing (the Governor et al) is demonstrating the necessary quality of leadership, judgment  and decision making the Islands deserve. As long as Cayman struggles under the oppressive yoke of old style dirigiste colonialism (the Governor et al) and the childish immaturity and irresponsibility of elected officials (the PPM, and the UDP is no better), we shall continue to get these unsatisfactory outcomes. The voters must look over the horizon and send a clear message at the next election.

  9. Ivan McLean says:

    The Governor should b charged as well in my opinion 4 the falure of  "kermet’s" (quite the frog)return 2 these islands 2 meet what we were all told 2 b his obligation 2 the government or (the governor) so 2 clear his unquestionable character which he so adamantly defended while holdingthe post that is suspect of him having abused in just such a short time in these islands & the rape of our judicial system & public funds

  10. Anonymous says:

    So presumeably, Kernohan was the only person involved in the purchase procedure of the Helicopter?

    He did it all by himself? What a talented guy he must be!

     

    • Anonymous says:

      According to the Compass some time ago, Eric Bush went with the Com. K. to purchase the helicopter. What a joke!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Is this a surprise to anyone? Perhaps the UK should consider required leave for someone else as well

  12. Knal N. Domp says:

    An apparently irregular witness interrogation in a dank Glaswegan holding cell. "Tampering with" (schtupping) a Crown witness and then absconding with her- leaving wife to fend for herself. Is more careful in Merseyside but promotion eludes him. Applies for, and secures, meaty job in the Cayman Islands- life is good! Hobnobbing with the hoipolloi at Sunset, swanking with the glitterati at the Ritz-Carlton- life is better!! Crime (especially drug-related crime) is on theincrease- life is even better!!! Gets his own helicopter on his own terms- wow!!!! Look at me!!!!!

    We should have kept Derek Haines… better cop, straight shooter, no bling.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’m sure he’ll be back before he finds himself a uk resident and liable for for UK tax on his Cayman Salary, which won’t be long now

  14. Anonymous says:

    Is this a surprise to anyone?

  15. Anonymous says:

    And this is strange to who? At least every Caymanian I know expected this.

  16. Anonymous says:

    ‘he would currently appear to be in violation of the terms of his employment’

    So why is he still on full pay?  They should make him pay for the helicopter too!

    • Anonymous says:

      Bit of a ‘no brainer’ this. Any half-decent human rights lawyer in the UK would look at what at is going on and tell him not to return because he will not get fair treatement.

      I would say the breach in terms of employment has come from the employer’s side who have effectively allowed the media and selected politicians to run riot with rumours and unfounded allegations while he was away.

      Don’t be at all surprised if the next move is legal action against the Cayman Islands or the FCO for, at the least, constructive dismissal.

    • Anonymous says:

      I say the BUCK STOPS HERE – TODAY. I BELIEVE THE TERM IS SUSPENDED WITHOUT PAY!