Minister questions enquiry

| 30/09/2008

(CNS): As Justice Alex Henderson was making public the real reasons for his arrest by officers from the UK independent police investigation, the Minster for Education, Alden McLaughlin voiced his concerns on Friday that the entire operation was a gross over reaction and was damaging to the Cayman Islands. He said that based on the information that the elected cabinet members were receiving, something just wasn’t right.

 “I have expressed grave doubts and concerns,” said McLaughlin. “This just doesn’t feel right to me.”

He said that it could be because the government hasn’t been given all the information needed to make an assessment but he was doubtful of the validity of what was going on.

“Drawing on my experience as a lawyer, I am sceptical of coincidences and the arrest of Henderson just before constitutional talks begin rings alarm bells in my head,” he added. “There is just something wrong with this arrangement that essentially allows a British invasion of our system and foreign cops investigating, well……I don’t know what?”

McLaughlin said it all seemed to be a gross over reaction to the issues at hand, and even assuming that the information the government had was correct and the Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan was involved in approving an unlawful entry to an office, the response was not necessarily proportionate.

“What’s at stake here is the international credibility of the Cayman Islands,” added the Minister. “If we have a corrupt system we need to fix it but nothing I have seen or heard so far leads me to believe that the response of the Governor to these matters is proportionate.”

Since all of this started, he said, he was hearing concerns coming from the business community at what was really going on and he indicated the government’s exclusion from the details meant they could not be sure what was happening was genuine and it illustrated the need for change.

“If we had a national security council from which the Governor had to take advice, while decisions might not be different we wouldn’t be in this realm of speculation. The elected government would know what was going on and we would support the Governor. We would have confidence that these were genuine decisions as opposed to being taking in isolation by the UK government with an unknown agenda,” McLaughlin noted. “This is a huge frustration for us as the elected government and this is why I am passionate about the reform of the constitution.”

He also lamented the cost of the investigation coupled with estimates of the tribunal to hear complaints against Justice Priya Levers, which together were now mounting to millions of dollars. He explained that the electorate take the elected government to task over the spending of government funds but that they have no control on this. Even if Finance Committee refused to appropriate the funds, the Governor would simply use his reserve powers to take the money.

The Minister said the situation was entirely inappropriate and that the constitutional arrangement needed to be changed. “This is not a little colonial outpost any more we have some of the biggest banks and business operating here. It’s a sophisticated jurisdiction nd we simply can’t have an invasion of another government.”

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts confirmed that the elected members of government were informed only the morning before of Henderson’s pending arrest.  “We were briefed at Cabinet just before the start of the meeting by the Governor in general terms on Tuesday,” he said “As is usually the case, there was scant information regarding the end result.” He explained that the elected members of government have only been told in the broadest terms what Bridger and his officers are investigating and have not been given any specific details.

 

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