Archive for February 5th, 2009

Case closed cheque cashed

| 05/02/2009 | 12 Comments

(CNS): The case concerning Justice Alex Henderson’s unlawful arrest and the illegal searches of his home and office has been officially closed and settled. His legal representatives, Campbells Attorneys, have confirmed receipt of a cheque fromthe attorney general’s office for the sum of CI$1.275 million. Appearing on behalf of Henderson before Acting Judge Angus Foster, Ramon Alberga QC said he was grateful to the AG’s office for the settlement of such a “distasteful matter”.

In the absence of Sir Peter Cresswell, Judge Foster delivered the order on his behalf in court on Thursday morning, 5 February, confirming the settlement between the parties and the stay of the Judicial Reviews. “Upon all parties agreeing terms it is ordered that all further proceedings are stayed,” Judge Foster said.

Alberga then thanked the attorney general’s office for what he described as their professional courtesy and expedience in dealing with the distasteful matter — “especially as they had nothing to do with the inept conduct, the illegal acts and the unjust treatment that Justice Henderson was subjected to,” he said.

For the first time since the Judicial Review commenced, SIO Martin Bridger of the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT), which was responsible for the arrest of Henderson, was not in the court room.

With the Henderson case now settled, it is understood that a number of other law suits may well be filed concerning issues surrounding the work of SPIT. CNS understands that Campbells may also be acting for Burman Scott, a former senior police officer who was arrested by members of SPIT last year and kept in jail over night before the case against him was stopped; Chief Inspector John Jones, who has been suspended on full pay since March 2008 but against whom no charges have been laid; and Stuart Kernohan, the former police commissioner who was also suspended from his post in March and never charged but who was sacked by the governor for being absent from the island.

Lyndon Martin, who is represented by Ben Tonner, is scheduled to appear in court next month on two charges relating to falsely accusing a police officer, down from 17 original charges also relating to the ‘Netnewsgate’ affair. However, it is understood that the primary witness in the case, John Evans, who is now residing in the UK, will not be appearing to testify despite being summoned, and that without any evidence or witnesses, the case against Martin is likely to be dropped leaving the way open for him to also pursue a wrongful arrest case.

Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon is also facing charges brought by SPIT relating to misconduct in a public office that are unrelated to ‘Netnewsgate’.

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Patient arrested for using friend’s medical card

| 05/02/2009 | 13 Comments

(CNS): Two women have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and obtaining services by deception after one attempted to receive medical care at the Cayman Islands Hospital on Friday, 30 January, using her friend’s medical card, police said. The hospital confirmed that the woman concerned did receive the treatment she needed but both women were then held until the police arrived when it was realised that a fraud could have occurred.

Police said that they were alerted to the incident after hospital staff noticed that the woman attempting to receive medical care was not the woman who had registered at reception. “It would appear that one of the women registered at the front desk with her genuine insurance card and identification,” said Detective Constable Richard Clarke. “These were then passed to the second woman who went on to receive medical care.”

Lizzette Yearwood, Acting CEO of the Health Services Authority said that the HSA takes seriously any action by the public that could jeopardize the integrity, health and well-being of patients. “Fraudulently presenting a health insurance card and claiming to be the patient could have serious implications for one’s health. The quick action by our registration officer in detecting the discrepancy again demonstrates the level of training of our frontline staff and reiterates our commitment to eliminate fraud and abuse from our system.”

The HSA added that insurance ID cards are intended only for the use of the persons whose names it bears and that if a card is lent to someone else the lender, as well as the receiver, are committing fraud. “Furthermore, your medical record may bear someone else’s name and details which would create a serious health risk for you in the future,” added Yearwood.

The hospital also confirmed that the HSA policy is to treat all people in the first instance and worry about payment later and that no one who needs medical attention is ever turned away. Once treatment has been given to patients without insurance or funds the hospital says it works with those patients to find a way that they can pay back the costs of the treatment over a period of time.

The RCIPS said the two women were released on police bail pending further investigations.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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Clifford calls for Jack to go

| 05/02/2009 | 36 Comments

(CNS): Unless he makes an unequivocal statement offering his support to the Cayman Islands judiciary and stops questioning the ruling of Sir Peter Cresswell, Governor Stuart Jack should be recalled to the UK, Minister Charles Clifford has said. The tourism minister said the recent events surrounding the investigation, which have brought the reputation of the Cayman Islands into question, have all been managed by the Governor’s Office.

“I believe the next step has to be a very clear and unequivocal statement from the governor perhaps in a press briefing, that he has full confidence in the judiciary of this country. The governor has so far resisted that and I am not sure why but this is a critical issue,” the Minister said on the Rooster Crosstalk radio show.

“We are talking about the judiciary that underpins the financial services industry, which supports fifty percent of the economy of this country. If the governor does not underscore his support and full confidence in the judiciary, I strongly believe that a delegation of ministers, MLAs and leaders of civic society must go to the UK and request the recall of this governor and his replacement by a newgovernor.”

The minister added that the country cannot allow him to continue to manage a situation that has undermined the reputation of the financial services industry. “It really leads one to question whether this is a continuation of the Ballantyne era.”

He said that David Ballantyne, the former attorney general who was linked to an MI6 agent from the UK while working in Cayman, is currently working for the FCO as a legal advisor.

“We would be failing the Caymanian people if we sat here and just allowed this to continue and allowed them to tear away at the reputation of this country,” he said. “When we question things we can’t get the information we need and we are expected to continue to throw money at a project that is undermining the reputation of this country.”

He said the governor needs to take action or the government needs to take action against him. The statement regarding the governor’s confidence was very important, Clifford said, and if it does not come the government would be forced to ask for his recall. Clifford added that the governor was responsible for the circumstances, the poor judgement and the bad advice surrounding the Special Police Investigation Team and in particular the behaviour of Martin Bridger. He noted that the governor’s continued support of Bridger and his insistence that the SIO  has done nothing wrong equates to a denial of the rulings made by both Chief Justice Anthony Smellie and, more recently, Sir Peter Cresswell.

“Too many things have gone wrong with this investigation and the governor needs to begin by removing Martin Bridger from his post. Because of the liability issues that have resulted from Mr Bridger’s poor police judgement we cannot support an investigation led by him.”

He said that, in the wake of Smellie’s ruling, no crime had been committed regarding the issues surrounding Net News, Bridger had then gone to a JP to get warrants without disclosing the earlier rulings, which itself could be considered misconduct and certainly questions his credibility.

The minister said that if the governor thought that Smellie or Cresswell were wrong he should appeal the ruling, but he said that had not happened because there were no grounds for appeal. Clifford accused the governor of calling these judges’ rulings into question, and said his behaviour could lead people to believe he was running for office in the May elections.

“He is the most political governor I have ever seen and governors must ride above politics. If a governor cannot rise above politics, he or she is not fit to hold that office,” he said.

 

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New laws coming to protect women

| 05/02/2009 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Government is currently working on two pieces of legislation that will help protect and promote women’s rights in the Cayman Islands. Health Minister Anthony Eden has announced that his ministry is working on a Domestic Violence Bill and an Anti-Discrimination Bill that would enable the Cayman Islands to become a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Fifty years ago today (5 February), the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Law came in to force and women were given the vote and the right to run for political office. Speaking at the recent National Heroes day, celebrating the contribution of women to the Cayman Islands, Eden said he was establishing an Office of Gender Affairs.

“It is an expansion of gender awareness that will enable policy makers, planners, administrators and society at large to better understand that inequality between the sexes is a significant underlying cause of national and global difficulties, within families, labour, trade and migration, to name a few areas,” he added.

The minister said that, while the women of Cayman’s history had laid the foundation for equality when they sought the vote and the right to stand for public office, there was still more work to be done. “Improvement in our gender relations is essential to the achievement of social well-being, and a responsibility of good governance. To improve gender relations, we must ensure and nurture an environment in which women and men are allowed equal conditions to realize their human rights and their potential to contribute to  political, economic, social and cultural development, not only locally, but also at regional and international levels,” Eden said.

In his Heroes Day speech, Governor Stuart Jack also called for the extension of CEDAW to Cayman. He said that women had come a long way and compared to the UK women occupy a higher proportion of the senior jobs in Cayman. He said the struggle continues and in Estella Scott Roberts the country lost an energetic advocate of better treatment for women.

“I hope that before long we can honour her memory and further the rights of all women in this community in a number of ways,” he said. “Firstly, by reducing domestic and gender violence. Secondly, by addressing inequality in the work place, notably lower pay than men, and by continuing the efforts to provide better education that will make that more achievable. “

He also said there was a need to agree a new Constitution that recognises the contribution of women and adds to the protection of their human rights.

Unveiling the new statue dedicated to women in Heroes Square, Minister Alden McLaughlin thanked his Legislative Assembly colleagues for their unanimous support and encouragement, in particular, MLAs Lucille Seymour and Alfonso Wright, who brought the Motion calling for the 2009 Heroes Day to be dedicated to the Women of Cayman and for a monument to be erected in the square.

“The 5th February this year will be the 50th anniversary of the coming into force of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Law, which gave to women the right to vote and to stand for public office. When the Caymanian women of my mother’s generation began to seriously agitate for political rights, I doubt if any of them regarded their actions as particularly heroic or themselves as heroes.  They were simply doing what they believed was right.  But because they had the courage to do so, they are heroes,” McLaughlin added.

Speaking to the people assembled for the occasion, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said it was only fitting to encourage the men of the community to continue to support Caymanian women in their goals and aspirations,

“These women are our mothers, our wives, our daughters, and the mothers of our children.  They are also the women who work alongside you every day, as well as your friends and mentors, and in many cases, they are the primary and only reason you made it through this life …. I take this opportunity to implore all men to be there for our women, as they have been there for us …. ‘Thank you’ to the women of our community for standing by us,” he said.

 

 

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Pope admits mistake on Holocaust denier

| 05/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): The Vatican has ordered an ultra-traditionalist bishop to publicly recant his views denying the Holocaust. A statement said British Bishop Richard Williamson (left) must "unequivocally" distance himself from his statements to serve in the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican also said that the Pope had not been aware of the bishop’s views when he lifted excommunications on him and three other bishops last month. Earlier, a senior cardinal acknowledged the Vatican had mishandled the issue. Go to article

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Investigation into disposal of electronic data

| 05/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The disposal of electronic data storage containers (EDSCs), which can contain confidential information, is the subject of an Own Motion Investigation by the Office of the Complaints Commissioner. The OCC investigation will look into the Asset Disposal Policy of the chief officers of all ministries and portfolios to determine whether government is properly disposing of EDSCs when they are no longer of use to government.

According to the OCC, EDSCs include computer hard drives, disks, diskettes, CDs, DVDs, UBS thumb drives, tapes, smart cards, plus scanner, photocopier, camera and fax machine memory chips and PDAs, as well as any other equipment containing any form of EDSC. Some EDSCs are used to store information electronically which is either private, confidential, privileged or pertaining to national security.

All chief officers were notified by letter on 21 January 2009 that the OCC was starting an investigation as to whether electronic data in their ministry or portfolio was being disposed of properly – defined as meeting the US Department of National Defence’s (or equivalent) standards for wiping data from these containers, or where appropriate destruction of the container.

The potential outcomes range from a public declaration confirming the good work of individual chief officers through to a finding of maladministration against individual chief officers and recommendations for improvement, the OCC release stated. Chief Officers were asked to take steps to preserve any and all evidence that may relate to the topics under investigation.

They were also asked to deliver to the Commissioner’s Office by 28 January: the policy of their ministry as a whole for the disposal of EDSCs, including each department’s policy if they have been delegated that responsibility, and proof of that delegation; if the policy is to turn over EDSCs to the Computer Services Department for disposal, to provide a copy of that service agreement; if their ministry has no policy, to provide information on what is done with EDSCs that are no longer in use.

Complaints Commissioner Dr John Epp said about half have so far responded. “The responses have been mixed, with some officers producing a policy which does, at first read, appear to be in good order.”

The Commissioner anticipates that the first stage of the investigation will be completed in one month if full cooperation is given.

A release from the OCC points out that, under the Public Management and Finance Law (2005), it is the responsibility of Chief Officers to dispose of government assets, and there is some evidence that assets which store information electronically are not properly erased before disposal. Therefore, in accordance with the Complaints Commissioner Law (2006R), Complaints Commissioner Dr John Epp has determined that there are reasons of special importance which makes an investigation by the OCC desirable in the public interest.

The Financial Regulations (2008R) states that each Chief Officer needs to implement an appropriate system of internal controls, and further that assets are publicly owned and must be accounted for during their use or disposal. Under the Public Service Management Law 2007, data that is stored in the asset must be protected and contracts of use of software must be honoured.

This investigation has been determined to be of special importance and in the public interest because of the obligation on government to properly safeguard sensitive information in its possession and the harm that might come to individuals and organizations if sensitive information was left unprotected when EDSCs leave the control of government.
 

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Brown backs international action on tax avoiders

| 05/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Guardian): Gordon Brown pledged yesterday to work for an international clampdown on tax avoidance, as the Guardian’s continuing Tax Gap investigation revealed big business tactics estimated to cost the UK billions each year. Speaking at prime minister’s questions, he said he expected countries to begin releasing information on tax dodgers once a US case relating to Swiss tax avoidance was resolved. "I believe it is possible to get an international agreement for the exchange of information in relation to tax cases," Brown said. Go to article

 

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Prince on brief royal visit

| 05/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The queen’s youngest son and the member of the British Royal Family with the closest relationship to the Cayman Islands will be taking a whistle stop tour of the country (today) Thursday 5 February when he flies in to take a look at the post Paloma situation on the Brac and gives out Duke of Edinburgh awards on Grand Cayman. HRH Prince Edward is scheduled to spend the morning meeting Cayman Brac residents displaced by Hurricane Paloma and assessing the damage.

He will be visiting Spot Bay to view homes damaged and meet with residents at Community Cove. He will also visit the damaged Creek police station and the temporary trailer park at Watering Place. He will also stop at the Veterans & Seaman’s Society Building and the Brac Reef Beach Resort before flying on to Grand Cayman.

The Prince will present the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme medals at a Government House ceremony at 2:15 pm  and will leave for Barbados in the late afternoon.

 “The main aim of Prince Edward’s Cayman Brac visit is to see the hurricane damage, talk to some residents whose homes were severely damaged, and to inspect work on the recovery process,” said Governor’s Office Acting Head Alan Drury.

This is HRH the Earl of Wessex’s fourth visit to the Cayman Islands. In May 2003, he participated in Cayman’s Quincentennial celebrations. In November 2004, the Earl visited in order to inspect the recovery process in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan. Again in February 2007, he toured the islands on a three day-visit.

His itinerary on Thursday will be:

10:00 am: HRH Prince Edward arrives at the Gerrard Smith International Airport, met by Acting Governor George McCarthy, MLAs Julianna O’Connor-Connolly and Moses Kirkconnell, District Commissioner Ernie Scott, and Acting Head of the Governor’s Office Alan Drury.

10:05 am Depart for Spot Bay to view homes damaged by Hurricane Paloma and meet with residents at Community Cove.

10:55 am Depart for Creek to inspect the damaged Police Station (vacated since Hurricane Paloma).

11:10 am Depart for Watering Place to visit temporary trailer site which houses residents who lost their homes during Paloma.

11:30 am Depart for the airport with short stops at the Veterans & Seaman’s Society Building and Brac Reef Beach Resort.

12:00 noon Arrive at the airport where Cayman Brac students will see off HRH Prince Edward.

12:05 pm Depart for Grand Cayman.

12:30 pm HRH Prince Edward arrives in Grand Cayman where he will be met by the Acting LOGB Anthony Eden, LA Opposition Member Capt Eugene Ebanks, and Acting Police Commissioner James Smith.

2:15 pm Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards Ceremony and Reception

16:15 pm Depart for Barbados.

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Number of alien worlds quantified

| 05/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): Intelligent civilisations are out there and there could be thousands of them, according to an Edinburgh scientist. The discovery of more than 330 planets outside our solar system in recent years has helped refine the number of life forms that are likely to exist. The current research estimates that there are at least 361 intelligent civilisations in our Galaxy and possibly as many as 38,000. The work is reported in the International Journal of Astrobiology. Even with the higher of the two estimates, however, it is not very likely that contact could be established with alien worlds. Go To article

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One day left on UK talks

| 05/02/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The Cayman Islands team has until 3.30pm London time today to conclude the UK round of the constitutional talks. Discussions will, according to GIS, focus on outstanding human rights issues and the proposed bill of rights. UK Minister of State Gillian Merron said it was important that Overseas Territories (OTs) and the UK strike a balance between mutual obligations and expectations. (Left: Minister Alden mcLaughlin, Nicholas Sykes, MLA Osbourne Bodden outside Lancaster House)

Merron, who is chairing Thursday’s final day of talks, said the UK’s need to retain sufficient reserve powers, including for governors, is aimed at protecting itself against contingent liabilities, implementing its international obligations and ensuring good governance. The necessary safeguards to protect UK interests still provide OTs sufficient room for agreement, she added.

GIS has reported that Minister Alden McLaughlin said the talks were are going well, with all sides bearing in mind the ultimate goal — which is the well-being of the Cayman Islands. “This process has been underway for more than eight years and now the end of this crucial stage is in sight.  With every passing day I grow increasingly confident that, together, we will deliver to the Cayman Islands a modern constitution that will provide the framework for our continued progress and prosperity well into the 21st Century.” He said.

“Tomorrow is a critically important day for Cayman as we seek to resolve the few remaining issues and have the terms of this final draft of the Constitution agreed to by the Cayman delegation and the United Kingdom.”

Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush said he was pleased that issues are being ventilated.

“I look forward to discussions tomorrow on the remaining outstanding issues. The bill of rights is the most important matter to be discussed because if we don’t get it right, it will change the way Cayman is forever. I will not support any issue that changes our moral values,” he added.

 

 

 

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