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.”