Bermuda Enquiry


Mr Dovaston
Mr Moore
Miss Middleton

August 2000 - Bermuda Enquiry to be held

The first step in addressing a problem is to understand that the problem exists.  That an enquiry is to occur with regard to how serious crimes are investigated is encouraging.  I will be interested to learn what is considered 'serious'.

Just what does the Commission consider a 'serious crime'?  Who knows ....

  1. a narcotics officer exporting currency exceeding Bermuda's statutory limits?  
  2. a narcotics officer who regularly assaulted his girlfriend?  
  3. a narcotics officer who assaulted a customs officer on his return to the West Indies?  
  4. a narcotics officer who attempts to pervert the course of justice to curry favour with her boyfriend (an officer in the department with whom she is having an affair)?.  
  5. a narcotics officer who 'arrests' a fellow officer's girlfriend to apply pressure to the officer not to 'make waves'?  
    the loss of $6000 from a Court exhibit?  
  6. the loss of countless exhibits from the narcotics department?  
  7. the retention by narcotics officers, in the narcotics offices, of potential exhibits which could be used at a later date (as required)?  
  8. Tampering with evidence
  9. the use of blank search warrants? 
  10. failing to investigate Bermuda's links (to include a solicitor and senior police officer) to the drug related murder of a woman in the USA?
  11. false allegations against a fellow officer?
  12. the police service failing to comply with their own disciplinary code and not respecting an officer's human rights?
  13. the subversion and betrayal of another officer?

'crime' is relatively straightforward, 'serious' is subjective...

In connection with new powers being discussed for the police:

10 Jun 1996

conduct is "serious crime" if it constitutes (or, if it took place in the United Kingdom, would constitute) one or more offences, and either--
: Column 1492

(a) it involves the use of violence, results in substantial financial gain or is conduct by a large number of persons in pursuit of a common purpose; or
(b) the offence or one of the offences is an offence for which a person who has attained the age of twenty-one and has no previous convictions could reasonably be expected to be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three years or more."").

  Lord McIntosh of Haringey: .....
The Minister is right in saying that it refers only to offences which involve the use of violence or,
 "substantial financial gain or is conduct by a large number of persons in pursuit of a common purpose".
However, there is an absence of a definition of what is meant by violence. As my noble friend Lord Williams of Mostyn suggested, it could be just common assault. There is an absence of a definition of substantial financial gain. Is it substantial financial gain to the putative criminal, or substantial financial loss to the putative victim? There is an absence of any restriction whatever on the nature of the purpose which a large number of persons could be pursuing. It could be anything from the Gordon Riots to the Peterloo massacre, or any public order event of the past 200 years where there could easily be a minimal offence of disturbing public order when the purpose itself was not only not illegal but could indeed be admirable.

No terms of reference?

However, no sooner is the enquiry underway than the infighting commences (see left link)

The Bermuda Sun advised (19th July 2000):

Top cop promises painstaking inquiry

By Nigel Regan

The inquiry into how serious crimes are investigated and prosecuted in Bermuda will "leave no stone unturned," commission member Don Dovaston said this week.

Mr. Dovaston, a former British Deputy Chief Constable, will lead the inquiry, which starts on August 7, with Justice Stanley Moore from Guyana and Trott and Duncan consultant Shirley Simmons.

Governor Thorold Masefield called for the inquiry earlier this year following the bungled Rebecca Middleton case. Last month the victim's father, David, told the Bermuda Sun he was concerned his daughter's case may be "diluted," given the inquiry's broad mandate.  But Mr. Dovaston said Mr. Middleton has nothing to fear. "I'm totally aware of that case," he said. "I know it's the catalyst for the inquiry and I've done my research. I've read the case in depth."

Earlier this year, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported that Mr. Dovaston was criticized by the then-London Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Condon, over a report he co-authored into how serious crimes were investigated in the capital - a report triggered by a high-profile racial killing.

Mr. Dovaston told the Bermuda Sun he was surprised by the article, adding the criticisms were unfounded.  Mr. Dovaston repudiated the article, saying he had a good working relationship with the commissioner and that his distinguished record speaks for itself.

The commissioner, like Bermuda's Jean Jacques Lemay, blamed shortfalls on manpower shortages.

Asked how he was picked for the inquiry in Bermuda, he said: "I was asked by the Deputy Governor Tim Gurney, but I'm not at all sure how he got my name. I imagine he got it from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
"I was asked if I would be interested on taking on the task, which to me is quite a task, and I accepted. I have never been to Bermuda but I look forward to it and will report on things as I find them."

Mr. Dovaston more recently added: " The long-term and more broad inquiry will assist the criminal process in Bermuda far more than any individual case."




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