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 ....
a narcotics officer exporting currency exceeding Bermuda's statutory limits?
narcotics officer who regularly assaulted his girlfriend?
officer who assaulted a customs officer on his return to the West Indies?
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
a narcotics officer who 'arrests' a fellow officer's
girlfriend to apply pressure to the officer not to 'make waves'?
of $6000 from a Court exhibit?
the loss of countless exhibits from the
the retention by narcotics officers, in the
narcotics offices, of potential exhibits which could be used at a later date (as
Tampering with evidence
the use of blank search warrants?
to investigate Bermuda's links (to include a solicitor and senior police
officer) to the drug related murder of a woman in the USA?
allegations against a fellow officer?
police service failing to comply with their own disciplinary code and not
respecting an officer's human rights?
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
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)
Bermuda Sun advised (19th July 2000):
cop promises painstaking inquiry
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.
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
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."
more recently added: " The long-term and more broad inquiry will assist the
criminal process in Bermuda far more than any individual case."