The Leak


A leak

What is a 'leak'? 

Apparently, Deputy Commissioner Roseanda Young (formerly Jones) has released a statement following the Mid Ocean News published details from a confidential police report allegedly linking government ministers to a housing scandal four years ago.

But the police are aware that there exist leaks, that officers copy documents and retain them.  Security in the Bermuda police service is lax, if present at all.  The Current and previous Commissioners of Police were well aware that there exists a problem with the retention of documents. What evidence is there of this - click here.

With regard to this latest farce, Deputy Commissioner Young is quoted as having said:

"A Senior Officer has been assigned to investigate the theft of police documents, and how these stolen reports have turned up in the media in recent days. This appears to be a clear attempt to discredit the Service in the eyes of the public and to embarrass the government. This conduct rocks the very foundation of what law enforcement are required to do. It is for these reasons that every stone will be turned to establish who, how and why anyone would want to discredit the Service and the people of Bermuda in such a vile manner. The individual or individuals responsible have totally undermined the otherwise exemplary efforts of the entire investigative team and they will be dealt with in accordance with the law. Never have I seen such a breach in the entire history of the Service and I will not stand by and allow this behaviour to go unchallenged.

These actions strike at the heart of community confidence in the Bermuda Police Service and I would expect that all those persons who can assist in this investigation will wish to do so.

We conducted an investigation into the BHC Enquiry; the very sensitive nature of this enquiry caused us to put special measures in place to secure all official documentation, which makes this incident all the more alarming. The decisions to prosecute by the DPP were followed as directed and we stand by the results of those decisions. The former Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr. Kulander Ratneser and former Commissioner of Police Jonathan Smith share our concerns in these most disturbing events."

Let's see if the constabulary is more successful investigating the leaked documents than pursuing the millions of dollars of public money apparently stolen.

Yes it is embarrassing that the public had to learn of the allegations, investigations and failures in this manner. The BHC scandal is "believed to have cost the taxpayer more than $8,000,000 through backhanders, questionable accounting practices, fraudulent deals and inflated invoices with building contractors". And what did the police investigation uncover, what resulted?  Very little.  the arrest and prosecution of property officer Terrence Smith who was jailed for eight years in 2006 for swindling the organisation out of more than $1.2 million. However, no one else was ever charged with any criminal offence following the investigation into BHC.

Had it not been for the leak, the issues would have gone the way of many things embarrassing, dishonest and wicked in Bermuda - buried by the sands of time.  It appears to be the Bermuda way - do not confront the issues, just put as much time between them and now and as every day passes so their importance diminishes. 

if the Premier has nothing to hide and mindful he is a public official, no doubt he will account for the alleged lack of documentation associated with transactions and for the benefits he appears to have received.  Or is it a case of 'accountants only slow things down, figures get in the way ...' (From 'Evita' - Lyrics by Tim Rice)?  Is all the noise about a probe into the leak and the rhetoric about 'such a breach' all a smoke and mirrors act, a diversion intended to draw attention from the main issue - just who did get the missing $6,800,000?  where are these funds?  who was in a  position to make the millions available and disappear?

Apparently, Mr. Ratneser, a consultant to the Attorney General, told The Royal Gazette:

whoever leaked the papers was guilty of a criminal offence and that ZBM could also be implicated for handling the documents, which were clearly stamped confidential, and broadcasting them to the public.

Note 'was' guilty; not 'may be' or 'could be', but 'was'!  On what basis?  what evidence does he have to support such an assertion.  Presumably whoever did leak the papers (assuming the police are competent and can identify the individual) will not claim that they cannot be tried fairly in Bermuda; so much for the presumption of innocence, it appears they have already been labelled 'guilty'.  Mr. Ratneser apparently went on to say:

“If you are being investigated and you are still an innocent person you don’t want things about that investigation being put out into the public domain,” he said. “That’s a very serious thing, apart from being a criminal offence. It’s a matter which should concern the Commissioner of Police and the people of Bermuda.

The comment 'being investigated' appears incorrect; the investigation concluded in 2004.  As for not placing things in the public domain, this happens every day.  How many people find themselves tainted simply because they are arrested but not prosecuted or placed before the Court yet are never convicted?

It appears, at the very least, there were some ethical issues associated with the behaviour of those named in the report.  Why should these have been buried?  Are the Bermuda people not permitted to know of the concerns associated with their leaders?  Are some being protected - not the Bermuda people - and if so, why?

Is it any wonder that wrongdoing occurs in a society which apparently buries (or ignores) its bad news, is without  a Data Protection Act and has no Freedom of Information Act.  The latter is designed to ensure 'open Government'; is it any wonder Bermuda does not have such legislation? Is hiding facts (not making them available) and the lack of action (to include civil action to recover monies) likely to deter people who would abuse their position and divert public monies (whether or not this occurred in this instance)?

Mr. Ratneser also apparently said

printing the documents from the Police computer and storing them with the intention of using them dishonestly amounted to stealing and using the papers in the broadcast constituted handling stolen property. “I don’t care what they say about me but using this sort of material to smear people in the community is a very, very dangerous trend if this is allowed to happen,” he said. “They (the Police) must take serious steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Really?  So does there exist evidence that this is what occurred; that whoever provided ('leaked') the documents had printed and stored them with the intention of using them 'dishonestly'?  If the leak has yet to be identified, what evidence is there about the intentions of whoever possessed and disclosed the correspondence? As for 'dishonestly' what evidence is there that the act was a dishonest one?  Is it not conceivable that whoever 'leaked' the documents did so with the best of intentions, particularly given the alleged ethical concerns?




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