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Governor launches inquiry into complaint against Police Commissioner

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The Governor has launched an inquiry into complaints made by a suspended police officer about the conduct of Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley.

Rena Lalgie wrote to Pc Robert Butterfield on March 8 to confirm that she was the appropriate authority to consider the “various complaints of breaches of professional behaviour” he had made “over the last two months” about Mr Corbishley.

Ms Lalgie wrote that she had considered his grievance and appointed retired Detective Superintendent Andrew Bermingham to investigate in line with the Police (Conduct) Orders 2016.

Mr Butterfield is suspended on full pay, along with another officer, because of criminal and internal investigations into allegations that they made a confidential court document with information about Mr Corbishley’s private life public, and an internal investigation into other conduct matters.

The homes of Mr Butterfield and the other officer were searched, and phones and other electronic equipment were seized, last December as part of the criminal inquiry.

The Royal Gazette understands there have been complaints made by members of the public about Mr Butterfield’s conduct, which sparked an investigation by the police professional standards department.

A source said 24 complaints had been filed about Mr Butterfield to the independent Police Complaints Authority over several years.

The Royal Gazette has obtained the Governor’s letter to Mr Butterfield and details of the complaints he has made to her about Mr Corbishley.

They include allegations that Mr Corbishley identified Mr Butterfield as a public access to information requester and that he passed information gathered during the criminal inquiry into Mr Butterfield to his personal lawyer to pursue a civil claim for damages against him.

Mr Butterfield also complained that the Commissioner identified an officer who tested positive for Covid-19 last year.

Last November, Mr Butterfield complained to former Governor John Rankin that the commissioner was unfairly selective about which officers should be investigated over their conduct.

The Police (Conduct) Orders require the Governor to assess if the conduct complained about, if proven, would amount to misconduct or gross misconduct.

It said: “Where the appropriate authority determines that the conduct, if proved, would amount to gross misconduct, the matter must be investigated.

“ … The appropriate authority must … appoint a person to investigate the matter” with “an appropriate level of knowledge, skills and experience to plan and manage the investigation”.

Mr Bermingham is a member of the independent Police Complaints Authority.

Governor Rena Lalgie (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Andrew Bermingham

Mr Butterfield said: “It is correct that a number of complaints have been made against me over my career, of which the majority were never proven.

“I am aware that there are those that believe that I am being protected, which is categorically false.”

He added no one accused of misconduct “should be treated unfairly”.

Mr Butterfield said: “I am encouraged by the new Governor, who seems to want to ensure that the laws apply equally to everyone and not just commoners.”

Mr Corbishley said: “Whilst it is not unusual for complaints to be made in relation to our actions, the Bermuda Police Service does not comment on ongoing internal investigations.

“Separately, the BPS has invested considerably within its professional standards department to ensure we are a service of integrity and professionalism, with officers subject to investigation held to account to ensure confidence in the BPS from the public that we serve and this should always be done without fear, favour or intimidation.”

A Government House spokeswoman said: “Government House does not comment on investigations, ongoing or otherwise.”