Governor Stuart Jack has admitted that UK Metropolitan Police officers made mistakes in the way they handed the Justice Henderson affair, but he insists Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger and his team acted in good faith.
In a vaguely worded statement – his first in over a month since the Met team were derided by a visiting UK judge over search warrants executed against Justice Henderson – the Governor indicated officers are preparing to wrap up the first part of Operation Tempura, which relates to an alleged break-in at the offices of Cayman Net News on 3 September, 2007.
Those matters, including the prosecution of former Sister Islands MLA and Net News Corporate Affairs Manager Lyndon Martin ‘must be concluded properly and with dispatch,’ the statement, released Thursday evening, read.
However Mr. Jack said there are further ‘unrelated allegations’ investigators are looking at, which will take a little longer to consider. It was not clear whether Mr. Jack was referring to allegations against RCIPS Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon or to fresh allegations.
The statement comes amid ongoing uncertainty over the future of the probe and rumours that the Metropolitan Police have ordered an internal review into the 15 month old operation.
Emails from the Caymanian Compass to the Governor’s Office and Government Information Services seeking clarification of the operation’s status had not been answered by press time Sunday.
Mr. Bridger has not made any public comment on the investigation since 29 October, when he issued a terse two sentence acknowledgement of Justice Creswell’s ruling.
That is despite promising on 9 October to release fortnightly statements updating the public on the progress of the operation.
Mr. Bridger has also refused to answer repeated questions from the Caymanian Compass seeking clarification on many aspects of the investigation.
In his 124-page judgement, Justice Cresswell said the actions of officers in Mr. Henderson’s case ‘reflected the gravest abuse of process.’
The bungling of the case in November led Cabinet members to demand Mr. Bridger be sent home and the operation wound up, amid fears for Cayman’s international reputation.
Mr. Jack did not respond to those calls directly, but he defended Mr. Bridger’s actions and sought to shift some blame for the mistakes to the legal advice investigators received.
‘We have to acknowledge that mistakes were made in respect of the Hon. Mr. Justice Henderson and, as already announced, the police decided not to appeal the judgment in the Judicial Review,’ Mr. Jack said.
‘However, l would like to remind everyone that Sir Peter Cresswell’s Judicial Review and subsequent ruling, setting aside search warrants, does not negate the fact that a considerable amount of exemplary investigative work has been carried over the past year by the Investigative Team,’ he continued
‘Senior Investigating Officer Mr. Martin Bridger has assured me that during these investigations he has always endeavoured to act in good faith and I have always found him to have acted in a very professional manner.
‘The actions that Mr. Bridger took in regard to the Hon. Mr. Justice Alexander Henderson were taken based partly on advice that he had received from independent legal counsel, which has now been questioned.’
Mr. Jack did not say whether the person that provided that legal counsel, UK Barrister Martin Polaine, will continue to advise the MET team.
Mr. Polaine was described in court as the ‘special legal advisor’ to investigators, despite having not been called to the bar in Cayman.
The investigating team, the Governor’s Office and the RCIPS have all refused to answer questions on whether Mr. Polaine is authorised to practice law in the Cayman Islands and whether he was required to obtain a work permit or government contract to work here.
Mr. Jack said the Met team are also looking at other allegations that surfaced after members of the public approached investigators about wrong-doing within the RCIPS.
‘I am committed to taking action where there is alleged corruption in the RCIPS. I wish to make it clear to those individuals who have demonstrated the courage in coming forward that the information they have provided will be dealt with in the strictest confidence,’ he said.