October 22, 2020

The Editor Speaks: Business interests, lost evidence and the Chief Justice

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North Side MLA Ezzard Miller hit the nail well and truly on the head when he said recently, “The mixing of politicians’ business interests with their role as public servants is becoming increasingly problematic.” He called on elected government members to divest themselves of their private interests. He also said, “Some government members have interests directly related to their public work, and even if that is not leading to actual issues of dishonesty, it is creating the perception of it. He also said he had concerns that not all MLAs are being completely open when it comes to declaring their interests in the register.”

Although we have a Register of Interests, Mr. Miller observed he was not sure if all members had declared their interests in everything and there was no pressure on them to do so.

It surely should be mandatory for a minister to declare his business interest when he is involved in negotiations that could benefit him. He should excuse himself immediately. We have the arrest of the deputy Chairman of the NHDT the other day whilst he is investigated for fraud by manipulating his position of trust to sell insurance to applicants to buy homes.

I have to say I agree with Mr. Miller’s many concerns on this matter. It is indeed sad when the public at large seem to accept that it is not wrong for ministers to accept gifts and hospitality or demand their resignations when they are involved in questionable situations regarding their interests.

Isn’t it utterly incredible the RCIPS have lost the video tape evidence in the assault case against Raziel Jeffers, and the very capable RCIPS Public Relations Officer Janet Dougal seems to have been given different information by the portfolio relevant to the matter? When the Crown Prosecutor, Kenneth Ferguson, states, “the evidence that existed was apparently recorded over”, it cannot be interpreted as anything else but lost!

Attorney, Peter Polack, said, “It is suspicious that this evidence has disappeared. The bigger question is really one of efficiency. These are serious matters and when police send a matter to court and then mishandle important evidence, it is a waste of the court’s time and money.

“This inefficiency in police procedure and prosecution is a recurring decimal in legal matters in the Cayman Islands unfortunately, as seen in the recent acquittals in several high profile murder cases. It also calls into question the dependability of any CCTV that the Islands are spending millions of dollars on.”

I have to concur and I hope Commissioner, David Baines, provides us with assurances the matter is being investigated and steps will be taken insuring it will never happen again. I am still waiting to hear about the missing guns the RCIPS lost.

It is so sad when the Chief Justice of the Cayman Islands, Hon. Anthony Smellie, has to send a letter to the media stating the futility and “misguided attempts to deflect blame away from one arm of law enforcement to another.

The general public has, at large, lost confidence in the ability of the RCIPS and Mr. Baines has a very difficult job to restore this confidence. Unfortunately, this latest incident has done nothing to help him. ‘Incompetence’ would seem to best describe what is happening in his police force and I am sorry I have to finally say it.

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