Police 'spin'

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It would appear that the chief of Bermuda police, George Jackson is being accused of misrepresenting the facts surrounding the detention and interrogation of the Auditor General.  The Auditor General can take some comfort from the fact that the police still remain unable to identity who, in their small organisation, leaked the BHC file despite the 'security measures' in place. 

It is however very worrying that the Auditor General is 'unlikely to ever ask them again to investigate any suspected criminal activity following an audit'.  There are likely to be some associated with Government (in a position where they are able to remove such funds) who will sleep a lot easier in the knowledge that the recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars that have 'disappeared' are now unlikely to be pursued.  However, this appears to be an unnecessary assurance; the police not only appear  incapable of undertaking such an investigation, given their apparent close alignment to Government , would any enquiry  occur or succeed?

12th August 2008

Auditor General refutes Police chief's version of BHC events Logo
By Sam Strangeways

Auditor General Larry Dennis yesterday scoffed at a claim that Police tried to get his "consensual cooperation" before arresting him in connection with leaked files from the Bermuda Housing Corporation inquiry.

"I wasn't exactly invited by the Police to an afternoon and evening of tea and crumpets and small talk at the Hamilton Police Station and Police headquarters," Mr. Dennis said in a statement. "It wasn't an interview. It was an interrogation."

Mr. Dennis was reacting to comments made by Police Commissioner George Jackson last week about the BHC row. Mr. Jackson said he made every effort to obtain Mr. Dennis' consensual cooperation after it became known that the Auditor General claimed to have possession of the documents.

"What the Commissioner refers to as my 'consensual cooperation', I gauge as the Auditor General being asked to acknowledge total acceptance of the law as it applies to the Commissioner of Police and a total repudiation of the Constitution and the law as it applies to the Auditor General," Mr. Dennis said.

The Island's independent financial watchdog saw his office raided twice last year by Police hunting the missing BHC dossier.

In the first swoop on June 18, Police also searched his home and detained him for 24 hours. His bail was lifted in December after detectives "exhausted their inquiries".

Last month, Mr. Dennis called for greater autonomy for his office and complained about increased political inference prompting Mr. Jackson to defend the arrest and his decision to join forces with the Government in attempting to stop the media printing details from the leaked files.

That attempt ended up in the Privy Council in London but failed, landing taxpayers with a six-figure costs bill.

Mr. Dennis said yesterday that it was up to the public to decide whether the Commissioner was right to align himself with government or whether it was "an unfortunate or telling compromise of his constitutional independence".

The Auditor General said the best way to address the public's confidence in the Police would be to ensure proper protection for sensitive, confidential documents.

"According to the Police service's own position in the case of these alleged missing documents, the control system certainly isn't adequate or working properly. What happened? And what has been done to ensure that it doesn't happen again?"

Mr. Jackson said last week that he worked closely with senior colleagues across Government, including the Auditor General.

But Mr. Dennis said he had not worked with Police since his arrest and was unlikely to ever ask them again to investigate any suspected criminal activity following an audit.

"For the Commissioner of Police to state...that the Auditor General is still a criminal suspect and he and the Auditor General work closely together is preposterous," said Mr. Dennis. "Just how closely is the Commissioner willing to work with a potential criminal?"

A Bermuda Police Service spokesman said: "There will not be a response forthcoming."

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