SPIT report heading for LA

| 12/06/2009

(CNS): The details of exactly how much public money was spent by the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT) under the leadership of SIO Martine Bridger is expected to be revealed at the end of next month when the auditor general passes his completed report to the LA. At that point, the report which Dan Duguay initiated in January of this year will become a public document and the Cayman people will be able to see how much was spent and where the cash went. 

Duguay said yesterday (11 June) that he has finished his research and written the report but is now awaiting the final response comments from the various parties involved. He said that when the report is published, before the end of July, it will give the public a comprehensive picture of the financial implications of Operation Tempura.

“The report has to be seen by several different entities for comment on its findings and when that is completed I will be able to table the report in the Legislative Assembly,” Duguay said, adding that he was not at liberty to discuss those findings until it had been seen by the members of the LA. “I can say the report looks only at expenditures, but it will give the public a good understanding of the financial implicationsof SPIT.”

Duguay announced his intention at the beginning of the year to conduct a value for money study of Operation Tempura and SPIT because he said the persistent questions surrounding the investigation relating to how much had been spent and on what deserved some answers. “While we may not be able to comment on what Operation Tempura is doing, we can comment on how much is being spent,” said Duguay.

Duguay’s primary goal is purely to asses if the Cayman people have received value for money with this investigation and not to assess whether or not SPIT should have been here or how they conducted their work other than on a financial basis.

Although exact figures are not known, estimates have been as high as $10 million, but so far the public purse has actually paid out more then CI$6 million, which includes $1.27 million in costs and damages resulting from the unlawful arrest of Grand Court Judge Justice Alex Henderson. CNS learned through a Freedom of Information request that on top of that Bridger and the CI government’s costs in the case to defend Henderson’s judicial review amounted to around $500,000.

Cayman also faces further expenditure that Duguay’s report will not assess, including the forthcoming court cases against Lyndon Martin and the suspended Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon. Furthermore, there are at least two outstanding suits that have been filed by the former Commissioner Stuart Kernonhan and former Police Inspector Burmon Scott.

Scott was arrested by SPIT and held overnight in lock down in May of last year before being released without charge for exactly the same offence as Henderson, which was found to be unlawful by Sir Peter Cresswell (the presiding independent Justice for the Henderson case) because the offence of misconduct in a public office is not one for which a person can be arrested in the Cayman Islands. If the AG contests Scott’s claim, which was filed last month, it is likely that Cayman will witness another expensive court room drama as a result of SPIT.

Kernohan, who was suspended from his post and then subsequently sacked, has also filed a claim for damages for his treatment against Governor Stuart Jack on behalf of the Government of the Cayman Islands, Martin Bridger, the Acting Commissioner of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, and the Attorney-General of the Cayman Islands.

Following the recent declaration by former Acting Commissioner James Smith that there was to be no action taken against Kernohan, Kernohan filed a claim last month and stated that extraordinary revelations – heretofore unknown to the Cayman Islands public – involving the governor and high-ranking elected officials, would be revealed in the courtroom. Kernohan is claiming wrongful dismissal, that placing him on required leave was unlawful and that not permitting him to leave the island without permission “amounted to false imprisonment”.

Chief Superintendent John Jones who was also placed on required leave for over a year has now been cleared and has had his contracted renewed.He is expected to return to work shortly following his recovery in the wake of surgery and it is as yet unclear if Jones will also be making any financial claims.

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