UK, Cayman police avoid Op Tempura

Both agencies say the other has information

More than two years after the Operation Tempura corruption investigation within the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has drawn to a close, both law enforcement agencies who participated in it have said the other is responsible for certain information gathered during the probe.  

It seems no one wants to claim the two-year long investigation that cost the Cayman Islands around $10 million, including a $1.3 million lawsuit settlement following the wrongful arrest of a Grand Court judge.  

Questions submitted separately in Freedom of Information requests to the RCIPS and the UK Metropolitan Police force sought to determine a number of facts about the Tempura probe, which ran from September 2007 into late 2009 in the Cayman Islands. On most 
issues, the two law enforcement agencies agreed.  

However, on one query – ‘How many complaints made to these two operations [referring to Tempura and its spin off, Operation Cealt] have been investigated but [no] further action was taken?’ – the answers differ quite a bit.  

“Operation Tempura was a London Metropolitan Police investigation and the RCIPS do not have access to the complete information necessary to provide any accurate detail of the number of complaints received under its terms,” the RCIPS response said. “Any request for disclosure of information associated to that investigation must be addressed to that office.” 

The UK Met took a different view: “We are not in a position to answer this part of your request as Operation Tempura, and any relevant information, was passed to the newly formed RCIPS Anti-Corruption Unit for further action if and when deemed appropriate.”  

According to the RCIPS response, its anti-corruption unit would not be aware of “the complete information” regarding any complaints received under the terms of the original anti-corruption probe known as Operation Tempura, even though their officers are still conducting follow up enquiries related to Operation Cealt, it’s spin off investigation. The UK Met’s response indicates the department kept no records of a probe in which it sent several of its officers down to investigate while they were still under the employ of the British law enforcement agency.  

“This, coupled with the revelations about material withheld from the 2009 Auditor General’s report, should now leave no doubt in anybody’s mind that the conduct of Operations Tempura and Cealt need to be the subject of a robust, independent investigation funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,” said John Evans, a police witness during the trial of Lyndon Martin – one of the men charged in connection with the Tempura investigation. Mr. Martin and former Deputy Police Commissioner Rudy Dixon were cleared of all charges filed against them over Tempura-related investigations.  

“I am calling on His Excellency, Duncan Taylor to get off the fence on this and finally concede that his predecessor failed to ensure the principles of good governance and due diligence were applied in the conduct of these investigations,” Mr. Evans said.  

Mr. Taylor, responding to a separate complaint filed over Tempura by its former Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger, sought to distance himself from the events surrounding the probe.  

“I was not the Governor during the period of Operation Tempura and did not have first-hand knowledge of events which had transpired during those years,” Mr. Taylor said in a January 2011 statement. “I would like to take this opportunity to make clear that I have every confidence in the Judiciary of the Cayman Islands.”  

Mr. Bridger was eventually forced out as the senior investigator of Operations Tempura and Cealt in April 2009. Mr. Bridger’s chief legal adviser, Martin Polaine, was disbarred in the UK following his actions in advising Tempura’s investigators on the arrest of Cayman Islands Grand Court Justice Alex Henderson.  

Operation Tempura began following claims that a former local newspaper publisher, Desmond Seales of Cayman Net News, and Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis had improperly shared information that could have placed police operations in jeopardy and officers’ lives in danger. Investigators at the time said those claims were quickly disproved and began investigating an alleged ‘break-in’ at the newspaper’s offices in George Town.  

No one was ever charged in connection with the ‘break in’, which occurred at Cayman Net News on 3 September, 2007. Mr. Evans was one of two former Net News employees involved in the incident. He has never been charged with any crime or arrested in connection with the Tempura case.  

No other criminal charges were filed against anyone related to either the Tempura or Cealt investigations. 

“Operation Tempura was a London Metropolitan Police investigation.”  

RCIPS 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Brent, this story needs to kept going until the issues being raised are resolved.

    I would like to briefly re-visit the legalities of the 3 September 2007 search.

    The Chief Justice has already ruled that the search was conducted within the law and in February 2008 an email from Stuart Jack, the Governor responsible for launching Operation Tempura, confirmed that my role was that of a participating informant as defined under RIPA (the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000).

    Despite this it has now emerged that the Senior Investigating Officer wanted to charge me with an offence, or offences, in connection with the incident. His logic being that I could then be detained on Grand Cayman as a captive witness and, as had happened when he was at the Met, the threat of prosecution could be used to elicit compromised evidence to back up his investigation.

    In fact this is one the areas that caused dissent between the Operation Tempura team and the Judiciary almost from the start, a split that eventually led to the now-discredited (but still secret) complaint filed by Martin Polaine.

    The concept of Tempura as an anti-corruption probe is unravelling rapidly, helped by a new attitude of openness at the Met.

    Right now at least two government departments in the UK are looking at aspects of the operation as are two national newspapers.

    I find it very strange that the previous Governor was prepared to conduct high-profile, public inquiries into the conduct of a former minister and a judge but the current post holder is blocking all attempts to properly review an operation that has so far cost (that 10 million figure is way out of date) an estimated 18 million with no tangible results.

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  2. Although I’m sure that Mr Evans and I each hold different views on some aspects of Operation Tempura, I agree wholeheartedly with his call for an open and transparent inquiry (whether or not in the guise of a formal public inquiry).

    It seems only right that all the facts surrounding what took place, and the actions of all those involved, should be publicly scrutinised. Above all, it is only right that the people of Cayman are given the opportunity of reaching a fully informed view on what took place.

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