Top cops’ actions justified

| 07/10/2008

(CNS): Serious questions about the validity of the special police investigation have been raised by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie in a fifty-one page ruling explaining his reasons for denying the investigators a warrant to search the homes of Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan (left) and Chief Superintendent John Jones (right) who remain suspended from duty. Smellie also states that there is no evidence that the senior officers committed a crime.

The ruling made by the Chief Justice on 4 April of this year, in a document which has found its way into the public domain, sets out the details which instigated the investigation into police corruption in the Cayman Islands led by Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger.

It states that both Kernohan and Jones were acting on good faith and appear to have had genuine concerns that the Royal Cayman islands Police Service (RCIPS) was at risk when they entertained accusations made by Lyndon Martin against Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis and Desmond Seales, the publisher of Cayman Net News. Although the special investigators have said that they have found Martin’s accusations to be unfounded, Justice Smellie states that the two senior cops had no reason not to believe those accusations of corruption and had a duty to investigate.

Based on detailed research and analysis of the law, the judge said that Bridger’s ‘quest for truth’ was nothing more than “a fishing expedition” and that there was no objective for thinking that the senior officers had deliberately committed a crime. He states that because the senior officers had genuine and urgent cause for concern, believing there could be a serious risk to officers, they had done nothing wrong in trying to find evidence to support those suspicions.

Bridger’s request for a warrant centres on an alleged break-in to the newspaper offices, where both Martin and his colleague John Evans worked, that Kernohan allegedly condoned but which the judge didn’t consider unlawful.

 “Given the circumstances that presented themselves to the Commissioner of Police and Chief Superintendent John Jones at the time when they encouraged or enlisted Martins and/ or Evans to enter the Newspaper premises there is no reasonable basis for concluding, on careful application of the law, that the Com  Pol or Ch Supt Jones committed any criminal offence,” ruled Smellie.

Throughout the ruling the Chief Justice suggests that the case has little merit and that Bridger seems to have been swayed by Ennis’ accusations that Kernohan et al were acting against the Deputy Commissioner because he was a threat to the Police Commissioner’s position. The Chief Justice says that Ennis stated to investigators that he believed Kernohan “opportunistically seized on Martin’s unreliable allegations in the hope of finding something to discredit him (DCP Ennis).”

The Chief Justice noted that this became pivotal to the application for a warrant but that there was nothing to suggest that Kernohan or Jones had any reason not to believe the accusations made by Martin and were acting in the public interest.

“If at least the basic intent to commit the offence is not present no offence is committed,” the Chief Justice stated. He went on to say that even if the allegations later turned out to be unfounded the senior officers had a duty to investigate them and Chief Justice Smellie made it clear he considered that the officers did so with caution.

“In all the circumstances then prevailing and the apparent caution exercised in the taking of the decision which they took, the Com. Pol’s and Ch. Supt. Jones’ actions could hardly be described as unrestrained, let alone despotic or tyrannical. Nor if the state of things were as they were apparently led to believe, could their actions be described as ‘likely to cause harm or injury’ to anyone.”

Moreover, the ruling indicates that Larry Covington, who is the UK police advisor to the Overseas Territories, Governor Stuart Jack and Attorney General Samuel Bulgin were all briefed by the Police Commissioner every step of the way as he sought advice regarding his concerns that there could be a genuine and dangerous leak in the police service.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I say, Put Mr. Kernohan back in office on active duty, and let him prove himself in time.  Give Mr. Kernohan a chance, and if he goofs up, then no more chances.  But i think he is deserving of chance because of the situation.  He thought he was doing good to fight against corruption in the Police Force!  I say Thank God someone will stand up and fight against spiritual wickedness in High Places!  But God Forbid, ain’t that a hard fight!  At the TOP, hardest fight of all!!  COME BACK SOON MR. KERNOHAN, I’M CHEERING FOR YOU!  I don’t think there is enough against you to not give you a chance!  Come Back Soon!  (If you will, after all of this maybe you won’t even bother to come back, maybe we have lost you forever without giving you fair time and chance to prove yourself in Your Job as Chief!  Well, you are still legally considered Chief, not "Acting" Chief, so I hail you as THE CHIEIF!!  SALUTE TO YOU!!  And i hope that if you do come back, that you further to uncover all the corruption at the top that you possbley can find!!  You are a brave and courageous man to fight at the TOP (Namely to oppose corruption at the Leaders and Authorities in High Government places.  Bible calls it SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES"  EPHESIANS 6.  This World needs more Brave and Courageous Men to stand up and oppose wickedness and corruption!!  GOD BLESS YOU!!!

    From a disgruntled and fed up Caymanian who is making plans to permanently leave this Country!

    • Anonymous says:

      I know I don’t have a law degree or anything , but I will ask the question "why didn’t they ask the Courts or other Justice for a warrant and conduct the search themselves ?" 

      If they had been smart enough to do that in the first place, all of our tax payer’s money would not be going down the drain now.    Obviously, they knew that legally they did not have a foot to stand up on if they asked for a warrant and decided to do it illegally by recruiting two overzealous employees of the Cayman Net News.  It is also worth noticing how one of the people recruited was also privately recruited by someone else to investigate the authors of some letters that criticized the Chief Justice and other members of the Judiciary. Coincidence maybe not!!

      Even though the cost of the investigation does concern me, I am glad that finally there is someone to stand up to the powers that be around here.

  2. Cyrus says:


    There are a few things that puzzle me

    1)      Has anyone questioned why Ennis (The RCIP Deputy Commissioner) felt that that Kernohan (the RCIP Commissioner) felt threatened by him?

    2)      Why would the RCIP Deputy Commissioner feel that the Commissioner needed to have, as is phrased above “opportunistically seized on Martin’s unreliable allegations in the hope of finding something to discredit him” Was there infighting within the senior ranks of the RCIP??

    Could it be that as the Chief Justice is reported to have said “Bridger seems to have been swayed by Ennis’ accusations that Kernohan et al were acting against the Deputy Commissioner” and that instead of completing his initial investigation and submitting his findings he was overly influenced by Ennis’s conspiracy theories. hencethe further probes into the affairs of the other RCIP senior management???

    3)      The subsequent charges against Deputy Commissioner Dixon for alleged offences of misconduct in a public office and attempting to pervert the course of justice stem from incidents which were of no secret to anyone in senior management positions within the RCIP, and any of whom if truth be told could have raised their concern with the then commissioner of police or the Governor had they felt that a breach occurred either legally, professionally or ethically. Why did it come to be an issue after lying dormant for such a long period of time???

    The Sicilians have a saying "Revenge is a dish best served cold" Could it be……………………..???

    By thIn any event by their failure to act or inform the appropriate person at the time these alleged offences occurred, the RCIP senior management team of that time can in all honesty be said to have either agreed with the decision of Mr. Dixon, or have condoned the now alleged actions.

    In either event it then stands to reason that these officers should also be standing beside Mr. Dixon in court and answering for their actions or in action as the case may be.

    As said before, it is very interesting that the accusations of misconduct and attempting to pervert the course of justice have only now been brought against Dixon, especially in view of the fact that he is also one of the person originally placed on required leave for possible misconduct into the original investigation which brought the MET team to the Islands.

    If Dixon has committed any offence against the laws of the Cayman Islands then he is exactly where he belongs, and deserves what he gets, however, he should not be their alone.

    No matter his rank at the time the alleged offences occurred, there must have be in place a system within the RCIP whereby senior officers receive a report of siginificant incidents occurring over a 24hr period and the subsequent actions made around these incidents.

    I have serious doubts that both of these incidents would not have been raised during these meetings. After all the arrest and recovery of a reasonable quantity of cash in the Brac is not an everyday occurrence, nor is the arrest of a former deputy commissioner of police.

    Once raised, if the subsequent actions taken by Dixon to release the persons involved in both occasions were not questioned by the officers present, and concerns raised as to the legal and ethical position of the decision and actions by Dixon, then the persons at this meeting could be said to have agreed that the actions taken were appropriate and by extension they would have assisted in the commission of any offence for which Dixon now stands charged for.  

    No matter the rank of a police officer (Commissioner included) there is always someone to who he must answer for any inappropriate action. Had either of these matters been raised by any senior officer within the RCIP with the then commissioner, the Attorney General or the Governor the matter could have been dealt with there and then with no doubt the same results as is presently underway. And before the excuse of “I could not independently raise the matter with the Governor or the Attorney General” is used, the fact that as an officer charged with not only upholding the law of the land, but also the supervision of junior officers charged to do likewise it beholds the individual to seek to highlight, and take the necessary steps to detect, and disrupt any actions by another officer which could cause the ethical and professional image of the RCIP to be tarnished, thereby reducing public and private confidence in the law enforcement apparatus of the Islands.

    These are but a few of the questions that I think need to be answered in relation to the events prior to and subsequent to this investigation.

    There is a saying “Be careful in opening Pandora’s box, its contents may be more than what you wished to find”

    I have a feeling that Pandora’s Box has been opened, what is inside has yet to be fully revealed.

  3. Kyser says:


    I wonder, if as a result of the Chief Justices findings, an independent review of this investigation will be conducted to ascertain if the resources of the Cayman Islands were spent appropriately, especially in view of the fact that

    a) the investigaton team had all of the fact given to them upon their arrival,

    b) the ruling given to Bridger on 2 occassions

    The question needs to be asked

    a) have the the subsequent actions of those concerned with the investigation been both necessary and proportionate in helping to “uncover the truth”

    b) once there was a documented legal opinion that NO criminal intent was evident, why was the investigation continued?

    c) If as the Chief Justice suggests that this was a witch hunt, then why was no Independent review conducted of the investigation, and evidence obtained to date, with a  view to see if  it was practical to continue?

    I also wonder if we will ever be told the TRUE cost of this investigation.

    Yes we need to weed out corruption but in so doing we need to ensure that we do not employ overzealous tactics, or ignore obvious facts and professional documented legal guidance.

  4. Anonymous says:


    Wise words!. It is a shame that others are so blinkered.


    • Anonymous says:

      Alas, it is Segbert and you whoare blinkered  in convincing yourselves that whoever disagrees with you is corrupt or not decent.   There is no wisdom in denying reality.  Perhaps you will wake up when the law suits start to fly and we the tax payers have to pay the damages. 

    • too many bad judgments all round says:

      It is becoming increasingly hard to identify anyone involved in the NetNewsgate saga who has exercised good judgment or commonsense. The minor molehill has become a mountain with stranded climbers with no compass, no safety equipment and nowhere to go. New, competent and strong leadership is needed that can bring closure by admitting the many mistakes of judgment ,writing the inevitable cheques, appointing new senior officials and apologising to the people of the Cayman Islands . That needs to start at the very, very top. I wonder if the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has noticed yet.

  5. Anonymous says:


    I agree entirely with the last comment. Over the last few weeks it has become increasingly apparent that this whole investigation has been nothing more than a fishing expedition. A holiday for Mr. Bridger and his sidekicks at our expense. Even their families came here on vacation on our dollar!
    According to these latest reports Kernohan kept the Governor, the AG and the UKOT police advisor fully appraised of the situation from the start. 
    They needlessly arrested a leading judge just so that they could interview him when he had already agreed to answer any written questions (on the advice of the AG).
    Either the Governor has been a fool to allow this investigation to drag on at such expense or he has been led along by the investigating team. Either way it’s time to put a stop to this expensive fiasco.
  6. Segbert says:

    Oh how some people forget. Yes we all know what was going in this little town and some folks would like the truth to remained hidden. And pretend that corruption is not happening here we the Caymanian people are sick and tired of the hypocritical corrupt few speaking for the decent people in this island. Some would  like certain things to remain the same because it serves their own selfish and corrupt desires and interest. You need to cast your blame not on Mr Bridger but on the corrupt individuals who brought this investigation to these islands. Thats who we need to blame.

    • Anonymous says:

      There may well be corruption in Cayman. However, Mr. Bridger’s investigation does not seem to have brought to light any real corruption and to have created its own problems. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    What a 3 ring CIRCUS!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The more that comes to light the more ridiculous this investigation seems to be, at our expense no less!!

    It seems to me that Martin Bridger is enjoying his vacation here in the Cayman Islands and is finding any excuse he can to stay longer! Even though he is destroying peoples reputations and our countrys reputation. Unfortunately the Governor is falling for it hook, line and sinker.

    I think it is time for Martin Bridger and his compadres be kicked off our Island by Immigration.

  8. Anonymous says:


    If this ruling was made in April of this year, and made by no less than the Chief Justice of the Cayman Islands, who is recognized, regionally and internationally as being extremely professionally competent and totally impartial, why then is:

    <!-A)This investigation still ongoing. while costing the Islands thousands of dollars per day.  

    <!-B) Kernohan and Jones still on required leave if they have in the opinion of the Chief Justice committed no criminal offence.(based on the facts revealed thus far,  any person having completed only 2 weeks of criminal law at the CI Law School, could have told you that the points to prove the offence of burglary, as defined under the Cayman Islands Penal Code, were not met, hence as the Chief Justice rightly ruled, NO Offence was committed)

    It must be noted that even were the investigation to exonerate both persons, the Cayman Islands will not cease to pay for this incident.

    With the professional reputation of both individuals tarnished the likelihood of them completing their contracts is extremely slim, as such they will have to be financially compensated. In addition to any outstanding monies to be paid for their remaining contractual time, the Island faces the strong possibility of having to pay additional monies to each for personal and professional damages. As both would be well within their right to sue based on the facts revealed thus far.

    Now in addition to Kernohan and Jones, the Islands faces possible claims for damages from Justice Henderson, who, if the statements released by him are correct, sought advice from both the Chief Justice and Solicitor General on what course of action he should take in dealing with the investigation team and their questions.

     As seen by his arrest, it would seem that even with the best legal council (Both the Chief Justice and the Solicitor General provide legal advice to the Attorney General and the Government of the Islands) providing advice on how to proceed and not breach any laws or judicial procedures Justice Henderson was still subjected to having to endure time in custody.