Pair win right to operate gaming tables
The Supreme Court forced the Commissioner of Police to grant two men permission to operate Crown and Anchor tables at this year's Cup Match after a judicial review.
The commissioner reportedly refused both Kenneth Bulford and John Jefferis from being able to manage gaming tables at this year's event at the St George's Cricket Club.
Both men argued, through defense lawyer Larry Mussenden, that the commissioner had no right to carry out criminal record checks on prospective operators and, if they did, the men said they had no criminal record which would lead to them being refused permission.
They subsequently applied for judicial review and inter alia orders to quash the decision.
The court heard that both Mr Jefferis and Mr Bulford were refused permission to operate Crown and Anchor tables on July 24 under a concession operated by Fun Tyme Entertainment. During a hearing on July 29 — the day before Cup Match — both applicants argued that the commissioner had no right to refuse permission on character grounds, previous “spent” convictions or on the basis of undisclosed reasons based on confidential information.
However, in an affidavit, the commissioner cited the Liquor Licence Act 1974, which states Crown and Anchor “cannot lawfully be carried out on licensed premises without a permit issued by the commissioner”.
Lawyer Brian Myrie, representing the commissioner, conceded that the men did not have a criminal record, but held that the commissioner was entitled to refuse permission based on “confidential police intelligence which could not be disclosed”.
In recently released reasons for judgment, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley noted that both Mr Jefferis and Mr Bulford had been before the courts recently, but both men had been found not guilty.
“It is a matter of public record that [Mr Bulford] was alleged to be a senior gang leader in a major money-laundering trial where he was acquitted and [Mr Jefferis] was charged with involvement in a major drugs conspiracy of which he was acquitted,” he wrote. “So the fact that they are both regarded as persons of bad character by the Police is neither a surprise nor a secret.”
The Chief Justice held while the Act did grant the commissioner some vetting abilities, the use of confidential police intelligence as part of the vetting process was an “astonishing proposition”.
“It would be a bridge too far to find that, by necessary implication, one must read into the permit-granting power the ability to deploy secret intelligence when vetting proposed table operators,” he wrote. “That sort of power would more likely to be inferred in the context of reviewing the lawfulness of an arrest or a search, powers that properly fall within the domain of police operations which the courts are reluctant to trespass in.
“It is entirely understandable that the [commissioner], having regard to the very broad terms in which the relevant statutory power is drafted and the character of his office, would have in good faith assumed that this was simply another area of policing operations in which traditional policing decision-making techniques could lawfully be used.
“On the other hand, the reliance in the present case on a far higher level of vetting than was contemplated in the [commissioner's] own Crown and Anchor permit form, in the face of an unprecedented challenge to regulatory system which appears to generally work well, constitutes an impermissible form of ‘mission creep'.”
The court noted that it was only in exceptional circumstances, such as where national security interests were involved, that the courts would uphold decisions made by the executive branch of Government justified solely on the grounds of undisclosed secret intelligence material.
Mr Justice Kawaley subsequently granted the judicial review, ordering the commissioner to approve the men's application.
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