Secretary says Levers wrote “Net News” letters

| 11/05/2009

(CNS):  During the third day’s hearing of Justice Priya Levers’ tribunal her personal secretary accused the judge of not only being the author of letters to the local press which contained serious criticisms of senior members of the local judiciary under a pseudonym, but of speaking ill of her judicial colleagues and of coveting the role of the Chief Justice. When quizzed, Elizabeth Webb told the tribunal she had reached her conclusions for a number of reasons including the content of the judge’s private correspondence that she had read and copied, and because she saw a fake signature on a hand written letter on the judge’s desk.

On Saturday morning, Timothy Otty QC (above), representing the tribunal, took Webb through the various statements she had submitted accusing the judge of being the author of letters to Cayman Net News but in particular the one signed by a Leticia Barton, which appeared in an edition of the paper in July 2007. Otty also asked Webb, who has been an employee of the courts for some 14 years and was previously a secretary to Justice Sanderson, to explain what she meant when she stated that Justice Levers had spoken badly of her judicial colleagues.

Webb told the tribunal that Justice Levers would criticize Justices Sanderson and Henderson for smoking and drinking coffee on the street, that she complained about the expense of bringing a judge to the jurisdiction from Canada, and that Magistrate Margaret Ramsey-Hale would sometimes go out drinking and have to be taken home by one of the court marshals. When asked where the exchanges took place she said they were between the two of them in the Justice’s chambers.

Moving on to the question of the letters, Otty asked why Webb had concluded that Justice Levers was the mystery author. Webb said that Justice Levers had asked her to make a folder and keep a copy of the letters that were being published and that she began taking a greater interest in Net News when the letters started to appear. She then explained why she believed Justice Levers had written the particularly damning letter by Leticia Barton.

“It was about 2:30 and she was talking to her son on the phone and asking him to type a letter while handing it to me as though she wanted me to scan it,” she said, explaining that afterwards the judge had put the letter back on her desk, saying that each time she asked children to do something they did not want to do it and went to bathroom, and she then asked Webb to call someone.

Webb said that while making the call she saw the letter in the justice’s handwriting addressed to "the editor" and at the bottom it was signed Leticia Barton. “I was nervous when I saw it as I couldn’t believe what I saw, I couldn’t believe she would be publishing that in the newspapers,” Webb said she then began thinking how to get a copy. Otty asked if Webb had seen the content and she said no, so he questioned how she was able to form the view that it was about the judiciary. Webb explained that she suspected that it was because of the previous letters and that it had a fake name.

Otty then asked how when the letter was published she was certain it was the letter she had seen on Justice Levers’ desk and how she had seen it, as according to other witness statements very few copies of that paper ever made it to the news stand because the issue was pulled. “I am sure I saw it,” she said.

When questioned by Stanley Brodie, QC representing Justice Levers, Webb revealed that after this event with the letter she began copying the judge’s private correspondence whenever it contained information about the judiciary to give to the chief justice, including the contents of Justice Levers’ last wishes.

Brodie asked if Webb felt it was a breech of confidence for her to copy a confidential letter written by Justice Levers to her colleagues about arrangements for her funeral and in the event of her dying. “Did you not regard this as very private in nature?” Brodie asked. In response Webb said: “But there was stuff in it about certain people in the judiciary, so I had a right to copy it.”

Brodie continued: “She was saying there were certain people she did not want at her funeral, do you accept that was a breach of confidence?” Webb appeared to indicate that maybe it was. Brodie also questioned why she had taken photos with a mobile phone of notes made in a small pad which Webb said she had found in Levers’ car. Webb said she believed the notes were made by Justice Levers as a result of a psychic reading making predictions about her future.

“When I first started working with her she told me she believed in card readers and she showed me a note that she was going to work with someone named Webb,” she said. She also revealed that Justice Levers had told her the psychic had predicted she would get a kidney from someone in a red car and Webb said she believed the note to be another revelation. “When I saw this note it had CJ on it so I copied it.”

Brodie explained that the note was not a recording of a psychic reading but merely reminders to the judge to do certain things — one of which was to inform the Chief Justice (CJ) that she needed to take leave to visit her husband in Jamaica as he was unwell. He asked Webb if she copied the note because she believed Justice Levers was after the chief justice’s job and Webb said she had. “Yes, I still think that,” she added.

Moving to the letters written to Net News and in particular the one supposedly penned by Leticia Barton, Brodie questioned how Webb had reached the conclusion she had given because at the time the name would mean nothing to her, only gaining significance in hindsight. He also produced sample letters on several pages which Justice Levers had written on the same size paper as Webb had said the letter she had seen had been written on. The sample letters showed it would not have been possible for the judge to have written the same letter as published in Net News on one sheet in the manner Webb had described in her statement. Webb however, insisted she had seen a single page letter signed as Leticia Barton.

He said that given her admission she had only seen the words ‘the Editor’ and ‘Leticia Barton’ and not the content he failed to see how she, at the time, could know what it was and then to relate to her colleague Yasmin Ebanks that the next letter to appear in the newspaper saying bad things about the judiciary would be signed this way. He said it was more likely that she concocted the story after the publication of the letter in the newspaper. “It is a complete fabrication,” said Brodie. “None of your evidence makes any kind of sense.”

As the proceedings concluded for the Saturday session Brodie informed the tribunal that he would continue questioning Webb on Monday morning.

More on the tribunal:

Court staff behind allegations

Tribunal hears prosecutor’s complaints of Levers

Stenographer paints “terrible” picture of court

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  1. Anonymous says:

    "This makes Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil look like a fairy tale!"

    What’s next?  Guns abound, like the wild west?  Tales of drug-fueled orgies at the local firms?  When will it end?  Oh me, oh my!!!

  2. Ebanks the Plumber says:

    This makes Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil look like a fairy tale!

  3. street justice says:

    I am not promoting the blogger Knal Domp but his blog site knal say wha has the most humourous and accurate comment concerning this tribunal and puts it in its right perspective I suggest reading this and form your own opinion. what a bunch of rubbish this Island is being subjected to and waste of money. This needs to come out of the pockets of the whiners who kick this tribunal into touch

    • Anonymous says:

      Re "I am not promoting"

      No, Knal is NOT correct many of us feel. A light is being shone on some extraordinary alleged events and attitudes. Only now-and after the Commission- can we draw certain conclusions. Let it continue to shine. So-called ‘privilege’ has kept us in the dark for too long and it takes elderly judges from outside of Cayman to say how enquiries should be run-in public, no less. Winds of Change.

  4. Twyla M Vargas says:



  5. Nicky Watson says:

    CNS will be following the tribunal carefully. However, while it is taking place, we will not be posting comments on the participants or what was said or predictions about the outcome.