Investigator: ‘I am disappointed’

Ex-Met cop slams Chief Justice, judge

Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger has warned Cayman’s Chief Justice and another Grand Court judge that they may be prejudicing an on-going misconduct probe at the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

Chief Investigating Officer Martin Bridger

Chief Investigating Officer Martin Bridger

In a lengthy statement released Wednesday evening, Mr. Bridger denied that officers from his UK Metropolitan Police team arrested Justice Alexander Henderson on 24 September simply so they could interview him.

Mr. Henderson made that claim in a statement released shortly after his arrest.

Mr. Bridger also accused Chief Justice Anthony Smellie of improperly releasing an April ruling that detailed the judge’s reasons for not granting a search warrant against two top-ranking RCIPS commanders.

‘I am extremely concerned that ruling made in a private hearing in chambers…appears to have found its way into the public domain on the 3rd of October,’ Mr. Bridger’s statement read.

The Caymanian Compass reported on 3 October that the UK Met team’s application for search warrants against Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and Chief Superintendent John Jones had been denied basically because of a lack of evidence that the two men had committed an offence.

‘A decision of whether a criminal offence has been committed cannot reasonably be based on the information supplied for the application of a search warrant,’ Mr. Bridger’s statement read. ‘It would be inappropriate for me…to discuss how matters unfolded after those warrants were refused.’

‘Mr. Kernohan and Mr. Jones properly remain under investigation for misconduct in a public office. This is not the offence for which search warrants were applied for and refused by the Honourable Chief Justice.’

Mr. Bridger said he was informed that the search warrant judgments were released the day after Justice Henderson was arrested, 25 September, ‘on the authority of the Chief Justice.’

Mr. Bridger and his team of UK officers have been in Cayman since September 2007 looking into allegations of misconduct within the RCIPS. The team’s investigations have led to the removal of Mr. Jones, Mr. Kernohan and Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon.

Charges have been filed in connection with the investigation against former Cayman Islands MLA Lyndon Martin. Mr. Dixon has been charged, but those charges are not related to the initial probe. Mr. Kernohan and Mr. Jones have not been arrested or charged with anything.

Justice Henderson was also arrested on suspicion of misconduct in relation to the initial investigation. He has not been charged either.

Mr. Henderson has asked for judicial review of his arrest and the subsequent search of his home and office by Met investigators.

The search warrant against Mr. Henderson was issued by a local Justice of the Peace. Mr. Henderson has asked for the review in part because of concerns that the JP was not given full disclosure by officers who requested the warrant.

‘I am entirely satisfied that these (warrants) were properly obtained,’ Mr. Bridger said. ‘It should be borne in mind that the threshold for granting a search warrant is reasonable suspicion, not…a realistic prospect of conviction.’

Mr. Bridger said he was ‘extremely disappointed in the professional and individual judgments made by those who have recently spoken through the media.’

‘This could be prejudicial to the investigation and the individuals involved,’ he stated. ‘The nature of the media coverage of the last week causes me particular concern.’

This is not the first time concerns about press coverage potentially prejudicing the Met team’s case have arisen, though it is the first time those concerns have been publicly addressed by Mr. Bridger.

Earlier this week, the Compass reported that a key witness in the case against Mr. Martin was refusing to return to Cayman because of what he termed ‘blatant and continous attacks’ against him in the press.

Former Cayman Net News journalist John Evans said that his ex-employer printed stories accusing him of committing burglary and violating the country’s Confidential Relationships Law, claims that Mr. Evans said amounted to criminal libel.

Mr. Seales has declined to comment on Mr. Evans’ claims.

Mr. Evans entered Net News publisher Desmond Seales’ personal office on 3 September 2007 looking to prove or disprove claims by Mr. Martin that Mr. Seales and a Deputy Police Commissioner were exchanging confidential information. Mr. Evans is not under investigation for his actions and has been charged with no crime.

The claims against Mr. Seales and Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis have since been proved false, Mr. Bridger said.

Mr. Bridger said previously that he considered the matter between Mr. Seales’ and Mr. Evans ‘a matter between those two gentlemen.’