The total cost of a UK Metropolitan Police team’s investigation into alleged corruption at the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is now $6.1 million, including court expenses and settlements.
But after much sound and fury before the television cameras earlier this month, Cayman Islands lawmakers asked just one question about the probe during Legislative Assembly’s finance committee on Friday.
Sister Islands MLA Moses Kirkconnell queried Acting Police Commissioner James Smith about whether the $4.4 million spent in this year’s budget was all for the initial corruption investigation, dubbed Operation Tempura.
Mr. Smith said some $1.8 million had been spent this year on the initial investigation, $1.75 million was forced through by Governor Stuart Jack to settle up some legal costs for the probe and another $915,810 was needed to further support the initial investigation, as well as to support a separate probe, called Operation Cealt.
Most of the cash approved by the finance committee has long since been spent.
‘I hope there is an end in sight to (Operation) Tempura…around August, which is when one of the trials is scheduled to take place,’ Mr. Smith told the committee.
Former Cayman Islands MLA Lyndon Martin and suspended Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon have been charged with criminal offences in the investigation and face trials this year.
Mr. Smith also mentioned that files had been submitted to the Attorney General’s office on two other top RCIPS commanders, former Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and suspended Chief Superintendent John Jones. Neither man has been arrested or charged with a crime.
Mr. Smith couldn’t say how long the second investigation, Operation Cealt, might take or how much it would cost.
Cabinet ministers had earlier attempted to refute statements made by Acting Commissioner Smith that they had agreed to support an additional $915,810 for the on-going investigations and that final approval for the money needed to come from the finance committee.
However, no Cabinet members appeared to have any questions about the matter in the committee late Friday and some even left the room during Mr. Smith’s testimony on the subject.
Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts had said earlier in the evening that government ‘simply had to bite the bullet and move on’ in relation to the police investigation.
The probe’s chief investigator, ex-UK Met Chief Inspector Martin Bridger, was removed from command of the operation and will be leaving the team at the end of April. It was a move elected ministers had long advocated.
Also, ministers said earlier this month that Mr. Smith had agreed to fully brief them on the subject matter of the second investigation, Operation Cealt, when it was appropriate to do so.
Education Minister Alden McLaughlin has said the continued support of Cabinet for the probe was contingent upon those two things occurring.
‘If the commissioner and the governor do not play the game correctly, Cabinet’s support for this project will fall away,’ Mr. McLaughlin said.