RCIPS leak an accident

| 02/09/2009

(CNS): Following the conclusion on Tuesday morning of the Crown’s opening statement, the jury heard from Lyndon Martin’s defence attorney Trevor Burke, QC, for the first time. He pointed out that, despite the Crown’s claims, Martin had believed the allegations to be true when he made them. In a long day of testimony the court heard from the Crown’s first witness that sensitive police information had been accidentally revealed to the press due to an error in e-mail distribution by the RCIPS press office. The court also heard that the Cayman Net News desk editor was unable to reveal who had altered news articles before publication.

After several hours in which prosecuting attorney Andrew Radcliffe, QC, had described to the jury why the allegations Martin made against Deputy Police Commissioner Ennis could not be true, in a short response his attorney Burke pointed out this was not what the jury was asked to decide. Burke said it was not necessary for the jury to determine that Ennis was or was not the “mole or the source” of a leak to Cayman Net News. He said they only had to decide whether or not the defendant believed it to be possible.

“When Lyndon Martin made the complaints to the RCIPS he genuinely believed that Ennis was the source of the information coming to Net News,” Burke pointed out to the court.

Following his short comment, the first Crown prosecution witness, Deborah Denis, the press liaison officer for the RCIPS, took the stand and related the circumstances under which police Gold Command meeting minutes (senior police) had been accidently released to the media.

How the police were handling complaints about a judge’s weapons cache in his bedroom and meetings with the auditor general, among other issues, had been covered in the minutes, which were emailed in error to individual members of the press. Denis explained how it had happened and that it was an administrative mistake over which she was mortified and had offered to resign – an offer which was rejected.

She gave details of who had accidently received the emails and how she had immediately recalled the Gold Command minutes and then attempted to contact as many people as possible to explain what had happened. She revealed that Lyndon Martin had not received a copy but said the minutes had gone to a general email at Cayman Net News, to which the Crown suggested Martin had access.

 The defence asked Denis how the minutes were laid out and also asked if someone had not seen the email but just printed pages of the minutes, what they would see. She confirmed that they would not see a date or title or who was at the meeting.

Moving on to stories in Cayman Net News about the purchase of the police helicopter, Denis told the court that she had engaged in an email conversation with John ,a reporter at Net News, over a story he had written about it. Denis said Evans told her it had been changed by his boss, Desmond Seales,after he had filed the article for editing. He said a line had been added to the story to say that Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan was going to be the pilot of the helicopter, which Evans said he had been unable to confirm and did not believe was true. Denis said that Evans told her he believed the story had been changed because of information coming to his ”boss” (Desmond Seales) from inside the RCIPS.

Denis then told the jury that the police commissioner had asked her to find out who was the source of the false information being given to Net News over the helicopter.  She explained that when she met John Evans for another matter a few days after the email conversation, the issue came up and she asked him who it was. She said he had told her it was Anthony Ennis. She confirmed that all of this had taken place in August.

The defence noted that Kernohan was therefore already aware of suspicions regarding Ennis and Seales from another source other than Lyndon Martin. The second witness of the day was Paul Charles, the deskeditor at Net News, who revealed that although he had copy edited John Evans’ piece about the helicopter, he had not made any changes. The court heard that Charles did not know how the line about Kernohan flying it had got there or who wrote it into the story, despite the fact his job was desk editor.

When Burke questioned him about his knowledge of the workings of Cayman Net News, where he had worked for almost five years, he could not answer many questions. Asked if his boss Desmond Seales had a printer in his office, Charles said he did not know. Asked if Seales had several phones, one of which was an internet phone, Charles said he did not know for sure what the phones were. Asked who edited the pieces after him, he said he did not know nor, he said, did he know where his boss kept sensitive information, although he did acknowledge he did seem to have sensitive information from sources.

Charles confirmed that Seales had a number of sources which he ordinarily kept to himself, but that when he was in dispute with the former tourism minister, Charles Clifford, over his bill to Cayman Airways Ltd  (CAL), Seales had exposed Clifford as being the source of a leak when he was a civil servant, which ultimately led to a scandal and the Tucker enquiry. Charles also confirmed that a disparaging story had been run in Cayman Net News about the CEO of CAL after he had pressed Seales to pay his bills to the airline.  

Burke asked Charles if he had discussed his appearance as a witness in this case with Seales, and he answered he had not. Questioned about his status, he confirmed he still worked at Cayman Net News and was on a work permit, and when asked by Burke if he depended on Seales for that he agreed.

Following Charles came John Evans,  a former reporter at Net News and a key witness as he also entered the offices of Net News on the evening in September 2007 in an attempt to find the evidence that Martin alleged existed of Ennis and Seales’ corrupt relationship. Evans began his evidence by explaining the geography of the Net News offices before the court was adjourned. Evans will take the stand again at 10 o’clock this morning.

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