Governor uses reserve powers for Henderson case

| 23/01/2009

(CNS) : The need to finance damages awarded to Justice Alex Henderson because of his unlawful arrest by the Special Police Investigation Team has seen Governor Stuart Jack call on the UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband for permission to use his reserve powers. The move to appropriate the funds from the Cayman government coffers comes as a result of the elected members of Cabinet refusing to authorise any more cash.

Several weeks ago, the elected government ministers first indicated that they were unwilling to continue funding SPIT and have now taken an official stand. Government ministers have said recently that the entire investigation has been mismanaged and revealed little if any evidence of corruption, but its costs were mounting at a time when every other government department was forced to make cuts.

Explaining why he had to use his reserve powers, the governor said he had been told on Tuesday of this week by the ministers that they were not prepared to continue to finance the investigations and had also declined to authorise the attorney general to negotiate or conclude discussions with Judge Henderson over his damages or to fund those damages.

“As Governor, I have to see the matter differently. There are two issues at stake.  The first is about the Rule of Law.  Sir Peter Cresswell has directed us to try to agree damages with Justice Henderson. He has trusted the Cayman Islands Government to act in good faith. And we must do this, whatever the unfortunate circumstances that led to the question of damages,” the governor said in a statement.

Cresswell ordered the damages as a result of Henderson’s unlawful arrest by SPIT, led by SIO Martin Bridger who  employed by the Governor, which Cresswell described as a fundamental policing error and a gross misuse of the process. However, the Governor has persistently defended Bridger’s actions despite the current situation.

In Friday’s statement he continued to state that the investigation was valid when he said the issue of good governance was at stake. “I know that there are many people on this island who are worried about the police investigations, particularlyabout what they are costing, about the time they take.  I know that many people wish that the whole issue could just disappear overnight. But we live in the real world. Allegations – serious allegations – don’t just disappear. Court judgements can’t simply be ignored,” he added though he did not indicate which serious allegations he was referring to.

He said he knew when he embarked on this path it would be difficult although he admitted not quite how difficult and added that he knew it was a commitment for the long haul. “I have a duty to everyone in the Cayman Islands, but at the moment, my duty seems strongest to the people who contacted the investigations team, of their own accord, to report instances of police misconduct. These people were brave, and cannot be let down.  I need to make sure that the investigations are given the funding they need to be completed,” he added.

He said given the economic climate he sympathised with the difficult decisions that Government have had to make and he applauded their stated intention to be responsible towards public money, but he said he was still going to get the money as the FCO had said he could. This means the funds will still come from the Cayman Islands Treasury and not the UK.

“I feel that it is important that we see these investigations through, for the good of people here in the Cayman Islands and for the reputation of the Islands. That is why the Foreign Secretary has given me approval to use these powers to authorise a financial allocation to the special investigation against the advice of Cabinet and to authorise the Attorney-General to seek the best possible financial settlement with Justice Henderson.”

He said the action does not change how the United Kingdom views its relationship with the Cayman Islands on virtually every other issue, and he said that he enjoys an open and co-operative relationship with Cabinet. He added it was a disagreement and he wanted to be open and honest about that, and despite the disagreement his commitment to the Cayman Islands is as strong as ever.   

Gillian Merron, Minister for Overseas Territories in the UK, also issued a statement on Friday afternoon on behalf of the UK secretary of state giving approval to the governor to act against the advice given to him by the Cabinet, in order, it said, to ensure that the Cayman Islands government meet its responsibilities in a local court judgement and to adequately finance a police investigation.

“The Governor has my full support in this action. I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm to all the people on the Cayman Islands that the close and co-operative relationship the UK shares with your Islands remains unchanged. Sometimes countries in close partnership disagree. This is one of those occasions. But our deep, historical ties still bind us. I look forward to welcoming a delegation from the Cayman Islands next month to discuss a Constitution that will take us into the future,” the statement said.

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  1. Anonymous says:




    Has our Governor breached the European Convention on Human Rights? Did the actions of the Governor in effectively pre-empting any judicial decision regarding which party ought to pay the bills arising from the SPIT fiasco, and specifically in apparently deciding that the people of the Cayman Islands are to pay for his deficiencies and those of the very special constables that he imported, breach the European Convention on Human Rights? I am not an attorney, but I can read Article 6 which indicates among other things that:

     

    “ In the determination of his civil rights and obligations …… everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.”

     

    http://www.hri.org/docs/ECHR50.html#C.Art6

     

    Article 13 indicates that:

     

    “ Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.”

     

    The Governor’s decision that the people of the Cayman Islands must pay for mistakes they did not commit clearly determines what my economic civil obligations are as well as those of other Caymanians. Clearly the Governor is neither independent nor impartial in deciding whether the Caymanian people or his bosses out to pay, yet he has apparently determined the obligations of Caymanians in respect of the travesty that is the SPIT investigation. He is no doubt aware that the very senior judge who heard Judge Henderson’s case questioned why the Caymanian people should pay for the mistakes of SPIT. Is it possible that this influenced his decision to intervene to make sure that neither he nor his bosses had to pay? No person should be judge in his own case yet that is exactly what the Governor claims to be entitled to do.

     

    If the Governor’s actions, whether sanctioned by his masters in London or not, violate Article 6 of the European Convention, then the fact that he purports to act within his Constitutional powers is irrelevant. The European Convention trumps his Constitutional powers. The issue of standing may exist but ought not to be insurmountable at least in my inexpert opinion. There seems to be non-criminal case law on this Article 6 point about political appointees interfering in judicial processes which may assist.

     

    I hope that the Attorney General will consider this point even though he is required to answer to the Governor rather than our elected officials. Perhaps the Caymanian Bar Association or the local Law Society will look into this point for the benefit of all Caymanians if they have not already. If ever there was ever a situation in which pro bono work is justified, the outrageous conduct of this Governor and his bosses is such a situation. Is the Human Rights Committee interested in collective human rights of Caymanians in this context?

     

    I am glad that our elected government has refused to vote more money for SPIT, but this is clearly not sufficient. I for one would much rather see the elected Government vigorously supporting a legal challenge to the Governor’s outrageous decisions, including the apparent decision to make sure neither he nor his bosses have to pay. Merely refusing to sign the cheques without actively opposing the Governor’s actions by all means available is not enough.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hell or high water I rest my case when I SAY FIRE THE GOVERNOR. He has made a absolute disgrace out of Cayman and he and his British Brigade needs to go. Investigating a top ranking Judge and not having any solid evidence is a joke in itself. I think there’s a propagada to slowly drill us a hole for a coffin and he also have the nerves to ask for a longer contract. He’s wasted our money with useless trials, corrupt Police Chiefs, helicopters and sad stories. Give the money to the Sister Islands Relief Effort and have the UK pay for Bridger and this racket.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do or EXCO Members have any  RESERVE POWERS that they can GET RID of this GOVENOR as he means the CAYMAN ISLANDS NO GOOD .I still say him and Bridger should have to pay out of there personal pocket for the MESS they have caused this ISLAND.!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is hysterical. Milliband is an absolute catastrophe for Britain.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1126282/Insensitive-Foreign-Secretary-upsets-Indian-hosts.html 

    We certainly do not need him playing his heavy hand in Cayman. Typical of the Governor to paint Cayman with the big brush of Globalism by inviting the hit men to weigh in. This is his mandate and if we do not realise it, woe to us.

    People, we are at the crossroads. It is not too late. There are still enough sane people in the world to repel the evil that has been planned for us.

    I call upon the people of the Cayman Islands to require full accountability of their government.  If you want to sacrifice your values to the UK and its master, Europe, then say so.

    Get rid of the Governor, get rid of the UK and stand up as Caymanians. There are many defectors from the UK who will support you. We hate the place. That is why we left.

    • proud to be caymanian says:

      Who are you? I hope that you are not one of those countries that went the other way and most of your people regreted it! I prefer the way it is. At least there is some conclusion and some of us is being highlighted and informed.

  4. Anonymous says:

    That hurts! At a time like this when we need so much help over on the sister islands especially, and lets not forget the economic situation worldwide, we are forced to foot the bill for something that, in my opinion, most Caymanians were against from the get-go.  Why are we to pay for the UK investigators errors!  This is just a shame!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Let the funds come from Stuart Jack and Martin Bridger pensions, not mines or yours. We are not responsible for this mess or the injustice towards Judge Henderson and others.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The Government of the Cayman Islands do no need to meet their commitments, the UK does. Their representative launched this investigation, they should foot the bill, but as usual their using their pirate tactics, take it by force.

    AGAIN the people of the Cayman Islands get the S__T end of the stick, from the so called mother country. I hope the people of these Islands see how much mother country cares about them.

    Hurricane Ivan NO HELP, couple bottles of water the first day, and now this, even tho there is a short fall in government coffers.

    What more do people need to see? A television broadcast of the UK saying, Cayman Islands take a hike, I’m tired, you need to take independence?????

    It irks me a born Caymanian everytime I see what the UK does to the people of the islands and all you can hear is "the mother country", and all you can see is government sucking up to them. Don’t  you the elected officials of these Islands see that , it time to stop  who can spit the longest, start working together and start getting the people of the Country prepared for independence.

    ITS TIME FOR ALL MLAS’ TO PUT UP OR SHUT UP, AND SHOW SOME  GUTS,  DON"T USE JUST FOR FOOD!!

    • Anonymous says:

      well……then why doesnt Cayman just go independent then ?! All the moaning….if you dislike the UK that much then go your own way. Why not !?

      The UK gains absolutely nothing  but headaches from Cayman…..

      So…put up or shut up !

      • Anonymous says:

        We may have entertain going independent as an option yet. However, one would have to particularly dim not to understand the legitimacy of our grievance in this situation.  Where there is supposedly "a partnership for progress and prosperity" one partner does not "put up or shut up". That simply reflects an imperious mindset which Britain should have shed a long time ago. 

        As for what Britain gets out of the relationship, it gets to retain its conceit that it still has an empire – somewhere to send its people for employment, and a few pawns in its geopoltical games. For its exploitation of colonies over centuries it can do with a few headaches.         

  7. FEDUPCAYMANIAN says:

    When is this nightmare going to end!!!  When are we going to stop paying for this vacation that SPIT call work!!  The world over is in financial difficulties and the Governor still sees fit to support this vacation.  I think that the Caymanian population has paid enough for this joke of an investigation and the consequences of it and it should stop.

    My question; why doesn’t the Governor use his powers to grant money for Legal Aid that is so desperately needed.  Despite the thoughts of England and many people around the world there are many local poor people here who cannot afford to pay for an attorney (Remember a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty); and there are a lot of firms that depend heavily on Legal Aid funds to keep afloat.  They are paid less than privately funded firms and work hard for the money that they do get.  Why should they have to wait until next financial year before they get paid for this one and face the same problem again halfway through the next one, they might be closed before then.

    That is what the Governor should use his emergency powers for!!!!!  Just my two cents. 

  8. Anonymous says:

    Yes, this bill has to be paid, but rather than an obligation of the Cayman Islands Government, we could also see this as an obligation of the Governor and Bridger, given that they were the ones that incurred the bills. 

    And given that the United Kingdom has not had to fork out a penny for these islands for many decades, perhaps up to a half century or more, it does not seem to be unreasonable that they should shoulder the bill. They and their representtives made the decisions that went wrong  — why should the people of the Cayman Islands pay?

    It just feels like time for all of this to be over, including an urgent constitutional change in which the people of the Cayman Islands have more say in decisionmaking, given that we will have to pay the bills for the UK’s and representatives poor decision-making.  In my world, "he who pays the piper calls the tune" still seems a reasonable and right concept. 

    The only solution is to park the Governor in a ceremonial role, and let the people of the Cayman Islands make the decisions that they will have to live with, long after these bunglers have gone.  Makes me sad that we have to pay them on top of all of this!

    And the determined effort to defend Bridger is beyond understanding.  TheCEO of Merril Lynch has just been fired by Bank of America for wasteful, imprudent use of money — funds that are a fraction of what we will ultimately have to pay out for mistakes.  How can a small island territory continue to countenance persons who bungle investigations so horribly, and so damaging to the islands’ and individuals’ reputations.

    And to so blitheley shake off the dust off their feet, unrepentant as in still defending their actions as being right (as per recent propaganda in certain quarters).

    And after all this, there is no end in sight regarding bringing this thing to a closure in terms of charging anyone with any serious crime. 

    The Governor continues to hold onto his position that he cannot sweep wrong doing under the carpet.  No one wants him to.  But when one is in a position of such awesome responsibilty, one cannot ignore the need for a sense of balance of demands and consequences.  And there is more than one way to skin a cat — are we going to take, as Sir Peter Cresswell so ably expessed it, the nuclear option at every turn? 

    And all the while we have a type of loose canon lurching around unrestrained, with no experience to evaluate the information being gathered in this fishing expedition.  When you land into a culturally different environment, it demands a huge amount of support and time to truly understand what is going on.  Yet this loose canon is allowed all this independence and latitude.  Not a little bit of arrogance, I should think, and also not surprising given well known predispositions.

    A formula for disaster, and that is what we got.

    Cabinet ,stand your ground — you have shown a great deal of restraint and patience, and I entirely agree that it is time for anyone’s patience to have run out.