FCO withholds Tempura complaint

The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has refused to release details related to a complaint filed by the former head of the Operation Tempura corruption investigation in the Cayman Islands.

The complaint, made last year by the operation’s former Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger as well as its legal advisor Martin Polaine, made various accusations regarding the conduct among certain members of the local judiciary, as well as staffers at the attorney general’s office.

Governor Duncan Taylor dismissed all aspects of the complaint earlier this year and refused to comment on it or release any details. He stated at the time that he had full confidence in members of Cayman’s judiciary. The UK foreign office said it did hold certain information about the initial complaint, but said the details should be exempted from release under Britain’s Freedom of Information Act.

“Disclosure would be prejudicial to the effective conduct of international relations between the United Kingdom and the Cayman Islands, which depends upon maintaining trust and confidence between the governments,” the FCO response to the open records request read. “We judge that disclosure of the information requested could lead to a loss of confidence within the international community, which could impact negatively on the Cayman Islands’ reputation and, more directly, on its financial services industry.”

Also, the UK is concerned about “more circumspect reporting” from the overseas territories’ governors if the people in those positions feel their reports from the territories will be subject to open records requests.

“[This] could in turn damage the United Kingdom’s ability to ensure the good governance of the overseas territories,” the FCO response read.

The individual who requested the information has indicated they will appeal the FCO’s decision, partly because certain sections of Mr. Bridger’s complaint have already been made public in the UK press.

Operation Tempura was a two-year investigation of alleged misconduct and corruption within the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, which eventually branched into a misconduct probe involving members of the local judiciary as well. Following an expenditure of some CI$10 million and two criminal trials involving high-profile community members, no criminal convictions were obtained.

The complaint filed by Mr. Bridger and Mr. Polaine was made after the government closed down the Operation Tempura case, although certain individual allegations made during the course of the probe are still being reviewed by the local police.

Mr. Polaine eventually dropped his complaint over the Operation Tempura case claiming “my life has been ruined”.

Governor Duncan Taylor issued the following statement about the complaint earlier this year.

“I issued a statement on 21 January, 2011, in relation to a complaint by Mr. Martin Bridger about certain aspects of the Operation Tempura investigation in the Cayman Islands. I have now concluded my consideration of that complaint and the legal advice I have received in relation to it. I have dismissed all aspects of the complaint.

“I have provided detailed written reasons for my decision to the complainant, Mr. Bridger. Because of the sensitivity of some of the material in the written reasons I do not propose to make these public; in the circumstances, at my request, Mr. Bridger has signed a confidentiality agreement in which he undertakes not to share the reasons with any other person except his legal representative.”

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Surely the rumours that are being generated by the decision not to release the report (coupled with the partial release of information by the media in the UK?) are doing far more damage to the image of the Cayman Islands than just letting the public see both the complaint and the response.

    I also fail to understand the logic of suggesting that releasing information under FOI would somehow force Governors to ‘dumb down’ future reports. If that really is the case we are already dealing with a cover up of massive proportions. This rather looks like the FCO trying a touch of KYA to avoid embarrassment.

    Maybe someone should file similar requests under the Cayman Islands FOI laws and see what happens?

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  2. Disclosure would be prejudicial to the effective conduct of international relations between the United Kingdom and the Cayman Islands, which depends upon maintaining trust and confidence between the governments, the FCO response to the open records request read. We judge that disclosure of the information requested could lead to a loss of confidence within the international community, which could impact negatively on the Cayman Islands’ reputation and, more directly, on its financial services industry.

    How can you maintain trust and confidence,when there is no straightforwardness,transparency and honesty?

    Like in all relationships,personal,international etc…if you can’t be honest about everything, then there is no reason for you to be trusted.There is no warrant for anyone to have confidence.There is no maintaining a good relationship for anyone.

    The saying that I repeat all the time is Speak the truth and speak it ever,cost it what it will. For those who hide the wrong they’ve done,does the wrong thing still.

    I wish McKeeva Bush and the rest of the people we are forced to rely on to govern our country would live by that saying. But it’s obvious they don’t.

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  3. Read between the lines…

    What this is saying is that to reveal the facts that both parties (the FCO) and the CI Government (through the Governor and the Commissioner of Police)have now admitted are in their possession would reveal a level of corruption so high up into the halls of power that it might cause a diplomatic incident between the governments of the UK and the Cayman Islands.

    This statement comes as close as any the public has heard that admits the corruption that Operation Tempura actually did uncover.

    It obviously went much further than the rank and file of the RCIPS, upon whom it was originally focused.

    The public will only be left to surmise and speculate on what and whom are actually named in those reports.

    If the history of the British Government from the days of colonialism until the present time is anything to go by…

    Members of the public would be wiser to quit questioning and let this entire matter die a natural death.

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  4. Sorry Firery but you are twisting this to fit your own agenda.

    The documents released to the UK media (which I have now seen extracts of) show a list of complaints that closely mirrored unfounded rumours that my former employer had tried for years to peddle as news stories.

    They were then fed to Tempura as evidence of corruption and one individual used them to try and lengthen his all-expenses paid vacation in the Caribbean.

    Tempura was an operation run by officers more interested in personal gain than law enforcement and until that is admitted this whole sad mess can never be laid to rest.

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  5. That’s your version of things, and has always been.

    I had a very good relationship with your former employee which has never biased my views…

    Or what I actually do know about this situation.

    I’ve had a very good reason to have these reports released as well, no need to say more but…

    Now that the requests for the information has reached the very highest levels possible and been outright refused, for the reason clearly stated…

    Who would be stupid enough to believe that this was just about a bunch of rogue British cops who got too close to your former employer and had a corruption investigation pulled from under them because of that.

    This is the definitive statement on the results of Operation Tempura and why those records will now forever remain hidden:

    Disclosure would be prejudicial to the effective conduct of international relations between the United Kingdom and the Cayman Islands, which depends upon maintaining trust and confidence between the governments, the FCO response to the open records request read. We judge that disclosure of the information requested could lead to a loss of confidence within the international community, which could impact negatively on the Cayman Islands’ reputation and, more directly, on its financial services industry.

    Let it go and move on, man.

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