Archive for November 28th, 2010

Academic to tell Cayman’s economic fortune

| 28/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A former senior lecturer at the University College of the Cayman Islands and expert in economics, Dr Tom Philips will be taking a look at the country’s economic future on Monday evening at a free presentation at the university on Monday evening. Dr Philips has been a member of the faculty at Fleming College since 1986 and a lecturer at Trent University in Ontario Canada since 1988. He spent two years at UCCI from 2004 until 2006. A regular contributor toGrand Cayman Magazine, Phillips has continued to follow the fortunes of Cayman’s economy since he returned to Canada. In Waves of Change Plotting Cayman’s Economic Voyage, Phillips will be tackling with the thorny issue of where the country goes from here.

The lecture is open to the public, free of charge and starts at 6pm in the UCCI Cascade room.

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UDP hopeful ministry adviser

| 28/11/2010 | 178 Comments

(CNS): The former UDP candidate for George Town in the May 2009 election, Pearlina McGaw-Lumsden, is offering advice to government ministers as a consultant, an FOI request from a member of the public has revealed. McGaw-Lumsden came home in 8th place in the George Town political race with just short of 31% of the vote, but she is now working with her former running mates as a political assistant to four of the five Cabinet ministers. Reviewing papers and documents for political sensitivity and contributing to long term policy ideas, the young UDP member is being paid from the public purse between $67-77,100 per year plus benefits.

McGaw-Lumsden’s role, according to the documents released, is to advice the four Cabinet ministers (but not the premier) from a party political point of view, write speeches, do research, liaise between the government and the party membership and those with political allegiances and represent the views of the party to the media. The young party member was appointed officially by the Cabinet office on 1 June, the papers received by the requester reveal.

Although the Cabinet office eventually released all the details of the contract to the member of the public who made the request under the moniker ‘Cayman-Consultant’, initially the salary range was redacted. However, following further correspondence in which the FOI requester pointed to the precedent of the premier’s press secretary’s salary being public, the office relented and revealed the range.

As with many other requests, Cayman-Consultant told CNS that they had had a hard time with the FOI since in the first instance the information managers had denied that the young UDP member had been employed. Cayman-Consultant had sent the request to all the ministries asking if McGaw-Lumsden was on contract with them, requesting copies of the contract, a description of duties, the correspondence related to the appointment and the salary range.

Although it was later revealed that the appointment had been made by the Cabinet Officer, the former UDP election candidate was nevertheless working with the ministers when the request was made, and Cayman-Consultant told CNS that they believed they had been mislead during the process of the request rather than assisted, which is what the information managers are required to do.

“I was finally directed to the Cabinet Office, who disclosed some of the Cabinet Secretary’s emails, the contract and eventually a salary range,” Cayman Consultant said. “It was most interesting for me to discover that some information managers clearly misled me about Mrs. McGaw-Lumsden’s consultancy status, perhaps attempting to hide behind mere semantics as she was on contract with the Cabinet Office and not with their ministry. I personally believe it was misleading if not outright untruthful to state that she was not on contract, not offering services and not being paid by the ministry.”

Cayman-Consultant pointed out that at the time of the request McGaw-Lumsden’s contract had been confirmed and that, aside from the fact that she was already in post, there was correspondence between the Cabinet Office and the four ministries regarding the contract, which Cayman-Consultant noted the information managers should have known about.

The revelation that the information managers told the FOI requester that McGaw-Lumsden was “not offering services” come in the wake of recent rulings by Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert that managers are falling short when it comes to following the process.

Although the political appointee was contracted by the Cabinet Officer, which meant she was “not being paid by” or directly “on contract with” any of the ministries which the FOI requester contacted, she clearly was working for government, and according to the Freedom of Information Law the information managers have an obligation to assist and clarify the applications made to them.

Dilbert said in her recent ruling regarding the run-around given to CNS over a request about ministerial expenses and benefits that it was “unconscionable” and a contravention of its statutory obligations for a public authority to hide records and information “behind mere semantics” but that public authorities should communicate with applicants to determine what they want.

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Drivers urged to be cautious as major works continue

| 28/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Motorists and pedestrians travelling along Elgin Avenue are being urged to proceed with extreme caution due to the major road works that are currently underway in the area. National Roads Authority (NRA) officials advised the public to be alert for large construction vehicles and to heed the signals of the on-site flag men. Motorists are also asked to pay closer attention to both pedestrians and workers as sidewalks have now been removed to facilitate the expansion project.

All road users are asked to be especially alert at the pedestrian crossing near the Immigration Department and to observe its lights. The extensive work now underway is to widen Eglin Avenue to accommodate the anticipated extra traffic in the area as a result of the opening of the new government office accommodation building which is due to open in early 2011.
 

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UK court rejects appeal over murder re-trial

| 28/11/2010 | 7 Comments

(CNS): The Privy Council has not allowed the appeal of Josue Carillo-Perez, who will now face a second trial for the murder of Canadian National, Martin Gareau, in May 2008. The UK’s highest court refused the appeal taken by Perez, who was found not guilty of murder in a judge alone trial in July 2009, a verdict which was then quashed by the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal. Perez, who had been a free man for only four months, having been in jail on remand awaiting trial, before he was rearrested in the wake of the CICA decision. A new trial date was set for September of 2010, which was then postponed when the case went to the UK’s Privy Council

The not guilty verdict of Justice Roy Anderson was overturned as a result of a self misdirection in the judge’s ruling, which stated that the burden of proof was enhanced for a murder charge. The crown had argued that the burden of proof is never enhanced because of the nature of the crime.

Perez, a Honduran national living in the Cayman Islands, was originally arrested for the crime only a few weeks after Gareau’s badly beaten body was found at his Beach Bay home in Bodden Town. Perez denied the murder and took the witness stand in his own defence and said he considered the victim a friend.

The crown’s case was based on two latent fingerprints found at Gareau’s home which matched the defendant, who said he had been to Gareau’s home only a few weeks before for a barbeque.

The judge said in his ruling that it while it was plausible that Perez could have committed the crime, plausibility was not enough. “Plausibility, however, is not an adequate basis for a criminal conviction and certainly the standard is enhanced when the charge is one of murder.” The judge went on to say that he did not believe the crown had not proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. Justice Anderson explained that although the defendant had elected for a judge alone trial, it was still the role of the judge to be both judge and jury and make the decision on the evidence.

In his verdict Justice Anderson said the crown’s case was based on circumstantial evidence, and while it had demonstrated with the fingerprint evidence that Perez was likely to have been at the scene, there was evidence to suggest that if Perez had played any part he was not alone. The crown had, however, presented a case where it said the defendant was the sole perpetrator of murder. The judge said that while he believed it was possible that Perez was involved, he could not say that he was sure he was the one that had committed the act of murder and therefore returned a verdict of not guilty.

Perez currently remains on remand at Northward and is now listed to appear in court in December when a trial date will be fixed for 2011.

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Judge sends UK clampers to jail

| 28/11/2010 | 14 Comments

(BBC): A member of a "criminal" car-clamping company which operated in Birmingham has been jailed for four years. The city’s crown court heard Gary Southall, 49, of Moseley, extorted up to £500,000 from motorists. Two others from the firm were also jailed. At a previous hearing, he and three more members of the firm pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud. Earlier this year Birmingham City Council refused £1,300 in pennies with which Southall tried to pay a fine. Gary Southall’s brother Wayne, 41, of Tyseley Lane, Tyseley, was given two years while his girlfriend, Victoria Charlton, of Heather Dale, Moseley, was given a suspended 12-month jail sentence and ordered to do 200 hours of community service.

Another member of the firm, Philip Bennett, 34, of College Road, Saltley, was jailed for 18 months. The council had fined Gary Southall for clamping vehicles without providing his business contact details on receipts to motorists.

Birmingham Crown Court heard how cars which had not been clamped were parked as "traps" to entice people to leave vehicles in areas patrolled by the National Parking Control.

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