Details of allegations against Corbishley
The complaint circulated on WhatsApp about Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley made several allegations about his personal and professional life. The allegations concerned:
* A social media message allegedly posted by a police officer about a Black Lives Matter march
The post was made in the run-up to a June demonstration in support of Black Lives Matter. The meme of a car being driven into people, with the words “All Lives Splatter. Nobody cares about your protest” led to the suspension of Police Constable Barbi Harris. A police spokesman said in August that Ms Harris would be charged with “sending a grossly offensive message via a public electronic communications service”. The WhatsApp message claimed there had been a “delay” in her court appearance – which it alleged was a “misstep” by Mr Corbishley.
* A decision to fight the reinstatement of police constable Oswin Pereira
Pc Pereira was fired in January for use of “excessive force” on a teenage suspect after a high-speed chase but he won an appeal against the decision in August. The Public Service Commission ruled he should not have been dismissed without notice for gross misconduct because there was no evidence he had assaulted the teen. Mr Corbishley said after the PSC ruling that he would seek "separate legal advice to consider the position of the BPS on this matter“. Pc Pereira has not yet returned to work.
* Thealleged release of the name of a police officer who tested positive for Covid-19
The WhatsApp message claimed an officer was suing the Commissioner for $40,000 in damages “for having his name publicly released with having tested positive for the coronavirus – costs that the taxpayers have to pay”. The BPS said on March 30 that an officer based in St David’s had been diagnosed with Covid-19.
* The identity of a police officer who filed a public access to information request being exposed
The message claimed a police officer filed the Pati request as an “ordinary citizen”. It said the officer’s identity was revealed in breach of the Pati Act and the officer lodged a complaint. The message also made allegations that cannot be reported for legal reasons.
* The appointment of a British officer to head the professional standards unit
Gillian Murray is the Bermuda Police Service’s head of professional standards. The WhatsApp message claimed she was a Special Constable and that Mr Corbishley promoted her to Superintendent. Ms Murray’s LinkedIn profile shows she joined the British Transport Police in 1990 and had reached the rank of Detective Superintendent. Her LinkedIn profile said: “My specialist knowledge, experience and skills span across all levels of criminal investigation and covert policing, including major crime.” The WhatsApp message contained other allegations about Ms Murray that cannot be reported for legal reasons.
* Rank of the Commissioner and lack of succession plan
The WhatsApp message falsely claimed Mr Corbishley only reached Superintendent rank before he came to Bermuda and questioned how he could “outrank Bermuda officers that are in higher ranking positions than him and be expected to train them for the position of Commissioner”. Mr Corbishley came to Bermuda from Kent Police in Britain, where he was a Chief Superintendent and later an acting Assistant Chief Constable. In most British police forces, the only positions higher than a Chief Superintendent are Assistant Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and Chief Constable. The Bermuda Police Service has a Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, two Assistant Commissioners plus several Superintendents in its senior management team. The WhatsApp message alleged Mr Corbishley “intends to exceed his five-year contract until he retires to remain in Bermuda” and was not focused on training a successor. But the retirement age for BPS officers is 55. Mr Corbishley, who earns more than $200,000 a year as Commissioner, was appointed in 2018 when he was aged about 50. His contract is due to end in 2023.
* Social media presence and speaking out on “politically contentious” issues
The WhatsApp message took aim at Mr Corbishley for speaking out on social matters, including Pride, a gay rights march, Black Lives Matter and the December 2, 2016 protest outside Parliament. The Commissioner rejected a report by a Parliamentary joint select committee which said police were ordered to pepper-spray protesters. He said that was a “mischaracterisation” and that officers who used the spray had made an independent decision based on perceived threat levels. Mr Corbishley supported Pride and Black Lives Matter. He also waded into a row sparked by comments made by Charles Richardson, a defence lawyer. Mr Richardson said during a plea in mitigation for a client who admitted sex with a 13-year-old girl that young women “actively pursue older men” for sport. Mr Corbishley criticised the comment in an online post. The WhatsApp message said police should “remain neutral” and the commissioner was “not a good fit for Bermuda”. It was also critical of his regular social media video blogs.
* Personal matters
The WhatsApp complaint contained two further allegations, both about Mr Corbishley’s personal life, which cannot be published for legal reasons.