Unprofessional exchanges won’t happen again, says Simons
Police communications about promotions that drew sharp criticism from the Court of Appeal this month have come under fire from an officer snubbed in the exchange.
But Darrin Simons, the Commissioner of Police, said established procedure would be brought to bear to ensure the exchange condemned by the court would not happen again.
A written WhatsApp chat in 2018 between Assistant Commissioner of Police Martin Weekes and Inspector Barry Valentine Richards went before the court as part of an ongoing legal challenge by Detective Inspector David Greenidge.
Mr Greenidge, who will officially retire from the Bermuda Police Service on Monday, cried foul after being deemed ineligible to take part in the 2018 inspector to chief inspector promotion.
At a 2021 hearing before Narinder Hargun, the Chief Justice, Mr Greenidge argued he had been passed over for a trivial matter of a personal development report, or PDR, that had not been submitted in time – a requirement that he argued could have been waived.
Mr Greenidge appealed after Mr Justice Hargun turned down his application for a judicial review.
Although his appeal was turned down this month, the Court of Appeal judgment called the WhatsApp communications between Mr Weekes and Mr Richards “not in keeping with the high standards to be expected of the BPS”.
The May 2018 exchange with Mr Richards, who had a similar promotions complaint to that of Mr Greenidge, was introduced as an affidavit in Mr Greenidge’s appeal.
The court heard the messages revealed unfairness – and that “decisions about who to promote were not based on the competence or performance, but rather corrupt practices”.
In the exchange, Ms Weekes told Mr Richards he had sent him “an e-mail you won’t like” and that “It wouldn’t have been a problem if Dave wasn’t being as difficult as he is”.
The Assistant Commissioner told him: “Some of your entries were dated 2nd May 2017 and the cut off was 1st May” – to which Mr Richards said he had already replied to the e-mail, adding: “I haven’t touched my PDR since last year. I was completed in time.”
Mr Weekes responded with an expletive.
In an apparent reference to Inspector Robert Cardwell applying to be promoted, Mr Richards wrote: “Passing Cardswell [sic]. Can’t believe you guys done that. Not because of my case, but certainly the disrespect he’s shown all the bosses. You and Daniels included.”
Mr Weekes went on to discuss the other officer’s case with remarks suggesting Mr Cardwell had learnt from “being disqualified once and failing the next time”.
In another message, the Assistant Commissioner stated: “I went to the boss and asked him what we could do. He said we had no choice but to pass him. And he hates Cardwell.”
At the time of the exchange, Michael DeSilva was commissioner of police, with his replacement, Stephen Corbishley, taking his place in June 2018.
The Court of Appeal judgment took an unsparing view of the exchange, ruling: “One unfavourable, but entirely reasonable, view of that utterance, is that it reveals that ACOP Weekes would have preferentially allowed Inspector Richards at least an extension of time for completion of his PDRs `if Dave wasn’t being so difficult as he is’, even while refusing [Mr Greenidge] the waiver which he sought, had there been a policy of granting waivers.”
The court declared “misgivings” over the exchange citing Mr Cardwell, noting that “boss” presumably referred to a BPS superior and suggesting the promotions outcome might have been different if Mr Weekes and the “boss” felt they had an option.
The judgment added: “In other words that they might have chosen to deny Inspector Cardwell his success in the promotion process, because of dislike for him as an habitually disrespectful subordinate.”
Contacted this week by The Royal Gazette, Mr Cardwell said he would not “personally or professionally respond to what has been published about me in the Greenidge Court of Appeal matter”.
But Mr Cardwell added: “There are clear ethical and professional violations together with integrity matters highlighted in this judgment.
“These are matters for the Commissioner of Police”.
Mr Simons responded to queries from the Gazette yesterday.
The Commissioner wrote: “Given that this matter remains before the courts, it would be inappropriate for me to comment at this time.
“All other matters arising will be addressed internally in accordance with prescribed policy and procedure, with the aim of addressing the issue and ensuring there is no repeat in the future.”
Contacted yesterday, Mr Greenidge declined to elaborate on any possible further legal action.
But while the Court of Appeal upheld the previous ruling by the Chief Justice dismissing Mr Greenidge’s challenge, its judgment suggested there were grounds for allegations of unfairness – adding that “we regard the allegations in the case as having been amenable to judicial review”.
• To read the Court of Appeal judgment in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.
• It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases.