‘Operation Cealt’ under way

New corruption investigation at RCIPS has begun

A separate criminal investigation surrounding several unspecified complaints made against Royal Cayman Islands Police officers will branch off from a probe currently being conducted by a team of cops from the UK Metropolitan Police force.

Acting Commissioner James Smith

Acting Commissioner James Smith

The investigation has been given the name ‘Operation Cealt’ and it is possible it could be conducted by a different team of officers than the ones who are now looking into misconduct allegations against two top RCIPS officials and former Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan.

Acting Police Commissioner James Smith said the allegations brought to the Met team after March 2008 involved ‘serious allegations of criminal misconduct’ amongst a ‘small number of RCIPS officers.’ He did not state the nature of the conduct, nor did he name any of the officers who were allegedly involved.

The acting commissioner stressed that the allegations had not been proved, and still required investigating before he could discuss matters further.

Mr. Smith met with Cabinet and members of the Legislative Assembly Tuesday to review general findings of a report concerning the allegations that was submitted to him by UK Met investigators in late January.

He said he had not made any decisions on who would investigate those allegations, nor had he made any determination on the cost of that work. Mr. Smith said law enforcement officials in Europe and Australia would be consulted in the coming weeks with an eye toward the potential hiring of a separate police team to look into the various claims.

Mr. Smith did not rule out the possibility that Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger and his team of UK investigators could end up leading the separate investigation, despite claims from elected ministers that they would not agree to fund any further corruption investigations headed by Mr. Bridger.

The acting commissioner said he did not ask Cabinet for any further immediate funding for Operation Cealt largely because he had not decided on how to proceed.

‘The Cabinet have said they’re determined to root out corruption,’ Mr. Smith said.

The original investigation by UK Met officers, dubbed Operation Tempura, would continue, according to the acting commissioner. Two individuals arrested and charged in connection with the probe, Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon and former Cayman Islands MLA Lyndon Martin are expected to face trial later this year.

RCIPS Superintendent John Jones and former Commissioner Kernohan are still under investigation in the misconduct case but have not been arrested or charged. Mr. Smith said Mr. Kernohan had not yet been interviewed by the UK Met officers.

The Cayman Islands government recently had to lay out CI $1.275 million in damages following the wrongful arrest of Grand Court Justice Alexander Henderson by officers from the UK Met team. The court judgment that noted officers involved had engaged in ‘the gravest abuse of process’ in that arrest and search of Mr. Henderson’s home and office has led to sharp criticism against Mr. Bridger and his team.

Read more in the Caymanian Compass on Thursday….