No. 2 man at UK Met caught in phone hack scandal
The British police commander who acted in an oversight role during the Operation Tempura corruption investigation in Cayman is now being pressured to resign his assistant commissioner’s post with the UK Metropolitan Police force, according to reports from the UK press.
John Yates, once touted as the next UK Met commissioner, came to Cayman several times in 2008 – largely without the local media’s knowledge – as the corruption probe progressed.
In June 2008, he stated that he was “personally” maintaining oversight of the Operation Tempura investigation – which at the time was looking into whether three former top RCIPS officials had committed misconduct in a public office. No RCIPS officers were ever convicted of any crimes in connection with the Operation Tempura probe.
As the case progressed, the investigators said to be under the oversight of Mr. Yates were later alleged to have engaged in “the gravest abuse of process” while arresting a Cayman Islands Grand Court judge. The chief investigating officer involved in the Cayman corruption probe, Martin Bridger, left the Islands after being removed from his position in April 2009. A chief legal adviser to the Tempura team was later disbarred in the UK.
Former Cayman Islands Auditor General Dan Duguay, in a review of the financing for the Operation Tempura case, said he never managed to track down precisely who was responsible for the investigation.
Mr. Duguay pointed out in his 2009 report that responsibility for the oversight management of Operation Tempura was passed back and forth to several government entities within the civil service, starting with the RCIPS, then the governor’s office, then the Portfolio of the Civil Service, onto the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, and finally returned to the RCIPS.
The services of the UK Met police officers, including Mr. Bridger, were acquired without any competitive bidding process and auditors found that there was no formal agreement or contract regarding the deployment of Met resources to Cayman. Those services were obtained, the audit stated, via an “e-mail arrangement with John Yates (the assistant commissioner of the UK Met police force).”
The Operation Tempura audit identifies several instances where management of the investigation seemed uncertain. For example, Mr. Duguay said a one-page summary presented at a meeting of the Strategic Oversight Group overseeing the investigation in November 2007 served as the “terms of reference” for the oversight group.
But two of the six attendees at that meeting disputed that the committee had adopted or even discussed those terms of reference. Mr. Duguay was unable to determine with certainty what responsibilities of the Strategic Oversight Group had.
“As a result, we conclude that there was no clear oversight of financial management and ensuring value for money for the two investigations,” Mr. Duguay wrote.
Phone hacking troubles
Mr. Yates appeared before the UK Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee on Tuesday, along with other UK Metropolitan Police representatives, to answer questions about the spreading phone hacking scandal.
He was criticised by MPs for deciding in 2009 not to reopen an investigation into phone hacking allegations against News of the World, a decision which Mr. Yates admitted was flawed and based on a minimum amount of research into the situation.
The assistant commissioner told the committee he was never put under pressure by the Rupert Murdoch-owned News International, but he stated he was “99 percent certain” that he had been the victim of phone hacking. He denied suggestions that this had intimidated him.
Another UK Met police official told lawmakers that he had run a narrow investigation because of limited resources, because he did not want the probe compromised by leaks of information from potential victims and because he believed such an investigation would put an end to phone hacking practices quickly.