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Government House refuses to release report into misconduct claims against a former Police Commissioner

The Deputy Governor, Alison Crocket (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Government House has refused to release the findings of an inquiry into claims of gross misconduct against former police commissioner Stephen Corbishley.

Deputy Governor Alison Crocket told The Royal Gazette yesterday that disclosure of the report “would or could reasonably be expected to prejudice the prevention, detection or investigation of a breach or possible breach of the law”.

She said it would not be in the public interest to disclose the report because of the “need for public confidence in the integrity of investigations and in the responsibilities of the Governor”.

Ms Crocket was responding to a public access to information request from the Gazette.

The newspaper has asked Rena Lalgie, the Governor, to review her decision.

The Governor ordered the inquiry last March, following complaints made to Government House about Mr Corbishley by suspended police officer Pc Robert Butterfield.

She appointed former policeman Andrew Bermingham to investigate allegations that Mr Corbishley identified Mr Butterfield as a public access to information requester and that he passed information gathered during a criminal inquiry into Mr Butterfield to his personal lawyer to pursue a civil claim for damages against him.

The criminal inquiry – into whether Mr Butterfield and another officer made public a confidential court document with information about Mr Corbishley’s private life – was later dropped.

Mr Corbishley resigned suddenly in October, having been here for little more than three years and with almost two years left to run on his contract.

He told TNN website in December he quit because of “family issues [which] were more important than professional” and because he wanted a change after taking the BPS “forward a great deal”.

The Gazette understands that Mr Bermingham completed his inquiry and passed a report to the Governor late last year, which the newspaper requested in early January.

Ms Crocket wrote that the report fell under three exemptions in the Pati Act, including the one about a “breach or possible breach of the law“.

She said its disclosure could also be expected to “prejudice the effectiveness of tests, examinations, investigations, inquiries or audits” conducted by Government House and to "prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs“.

The Deputy Governor said: “We have carefully weighed the public interest argument … against the possible adverse effects of disclosure, in particular the need for public confidence in the integrity of investigations and in the responsibilities of the Governor, and have concluded that it is not in the public interest to disclose this record.”

Last month, Ms Crocket refused to disclose to the Gazette the settlement Mr Corbishley received when he quit.

She said those records were exempt under Pati, in part, because they contained personal information and disclosing them would be a breach of confidence.

Today, Ms Crocket refused access to correspondence between Mr Corbishley and Government House employees in September and October 2021, on the grounds that it contained personal information.

Ms Lalgie told Mr Butterfield last month that the investigation into the former commissioner had been dropped because the legislation under which it was launched no longer applied following Mr Corbishley’s departure.

The Governor told the officer she had received legal advice that “one of two consequences” flowed from Mr Corbishley’s resignation: either that there was no power under the Police (Conduct) Orders to continue the inquiry into his conduct or that there was no power to take any action at the conclusion of the inquiry.

She added that “ … in the circumstances, no further investigation of the allegations made is legally permissible or appropriate and, thus, the matter is now closed”.

Government House did not reply to a request from the Gazette for confirmation that the Governor was legally not able to conclude the investigation into Mr Corbishley.

Ms Lalgie did not respond to a question yesterday on whether she believed it would be in the public interest to release the report.

A Government House spokeswoman said: “The Governor is in receipt of your request for an internal review in this matter and will respond within the appropriate time frame.”

To read the Pati decisions from Government House, click on the PDFs under Related Media.

* This article has been amended to note that the Deputy Governor refused access last month to the settlement received by Mr Corbishley when he resigned. An earlier version wrongly stated that Ms Crocket refused last month to disclose correspondence between the former commissioner and Government House. She issued that refusal today.