Governor Taylor: No more enquiries into Tempura

Governor Duncan Taylor Cayman Islands lg

A former Crown witness in the Operation Tempura police corruption investigation asked Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor last week to “get off the fence” with regard to a full-scale review of former Cayman Governor Stuart Jack’s actions in relation to the case.  

According to correspondence the Caymanian Compass has received, penned by United Kingdom’s overseas territories Minister Henry Bellingham, it looks as though Mr. Taylor has picked a side.  

“The governor is not convinced of the need for, or merit of, any further substantive enquiries into the Operation Tempura police corruption investigation,” Mr. Bellingham wrote to the former Crown 
witness, John Evans.  

“Operation Tempura, which ended in 2009, was undoubtedly a difficult period in Cayman’s recent history and attracted considerable commentary,” the overseas territories minister wrote. “Since then, the Cayman Islands have a new police commissioner who has provided much needed leadership and is working to ensure a better organised and more efficient/effective police service; a new governor who is determined to do all he can to ensure proper governance of the Islands; an Anti-Corruption Commission and a new Constitution.”  

Tempura, the two-year, $10 million investigation into alleged corruption within the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and alleged misconduct of certain members of the judiciary, ended with no criminal convictions in two prosecutions. A Grand Court judge who was arrested in connection with the investigation ended up winning a $1.3 million lawsuit settlement 
over the incident.  

Tempura’s spin-off investigation, Operation Cealt, led local police and UK Metropolitan Police officers to look into more than 160 separate complaints – some which are still being reviewed by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s Anti-Corruption Unit. According to information released by Police Commissioner David Baines’ office, eight police staffers have faced discipline related to the findings of those investigations – six of them were fired or forced to resign. It has never been made public what these officers were alleged to have done. None ever faced prosecution over the wrong doings, the RCIPS stated.  

Mr. Bellingham’s letter also noted Governor Taylor’s view that former Cayman Islands Auditor General Dan Duguay had not been fired because of a report his office issued in October 2009 on Operation Tempura’s financing and spending.  

“The governor strongly refutes this assertion,” Minister Bellingham wrote. “The situation was that, as Mr. Duguay approached the end of a second, three-year contract as auditor general, it was considered appropriate that the job be advertised and an open recruitment and selection process by adopted … Mr. Duguay applied for the position, was short-listed and interviewed, but the panel was unanimous in its conclusion that another candidate was stronger all round and he was duly appointed.”  

Mr. Evans’ call for a thorough review was supported by former Operation Tempura legal adviser Martin Polaine, a now-disbarred UK lawyer who once told the Caymanian Compass that his life “has been ruined” by the entire episode.  

“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),” Mr. Polaine wrote on the website. “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.”  

Mr. Polaine, along with former Tempura Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger, filed a complaint over certain aspects of the operation after they were taken off the case. Mr. Polaine later dropped that complaint, but Mr. Bridger continued on with it. The matter generally dealt with allegations made regarding how certain members of the Cayman Islands judiciary and the attorney general’s office had dealt with the Tempura investigation.  

Apparently that complaint, according to Minister Bellingham, led to the issuance of a 185-page report which was provided to Mr. Bridger and the Cayman Islands Governor’s Office. The full report has never been made public, but Governor Taylor said he has since decided that Mr. Bridger’s complaint did not warrant a full investigation.  

In April 2011, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said the release of that 185-page report could hurt Cayman’s international reputation and Cayman-UK relations.  

“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 an 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. 

Governor Duncan Taylor Cayman Islands

Mr. Taylor


  1. I have followed this investigation but have never commented until now.
    Too many questions are yet to be answered; Cayman’s international reputation has already suffered over this incident
    This is not something that can be swept under the rug with a wave of the hand and a declaration that it should never be spoken of again.
    Honest closure is required.
    Endgame, I think not!

  2. In fairness to Governor Duncan Taylor that reply from Henry Bellingham was written before a large amount of new material was released under FOI, both in the UK and the Cayman Islands.

    That material suggests that there was a substantial failure to properly cooperate with the 2009 audit into Operations Tempura and Cealt and that relevant information was deliberately withheld.

    Mr Bellingham is also being fed material that is deliberately misleading. As one example, Benjamin Aina’s 185-page report is being represented as an overall review of the conduct of Operation Tempura. In fact the report deals with specific issues raised by Mr Polaine, which appear to relate only to matters involving people outside the actual investigation. It does not deal with the conduct of team members or their finances.

    Mr Bellingham actually concedes that Aina only dealt with non-financial matters but then rules out any further investigation into the financial aspects of both operations on the basis that the original audit was adequate. This just makes it all look (and I am not suggesting that this is the case) like a cover up.

    I have now replied to Henry Bellingham updating the situation. My letter ends – It begs for a proper investigation and the completion of the audit, if for nothing else than to re-establish the credibility of the Governor and the FCO in the eyes of the people of the Cayman Islands.

    I believe that a decision to re-visit the audit will confirm the fact that aspects of the management of Operation Tempura, particularly when it was being run from New Scotland Yard with virtually no involvement from the Cayman Islands Government or the RCIPS, raise serious questions about some of the decisions made at the time. Not only was the normal tendering process ignoring but the contracts were, according to material given me by the Metropolitan Police Service, handed out in London with no input from CIG, although they ultimately picked up all the bills.

    What people tend to ignore when they look at Tempura and Cealt is that both operations were progressively privatised from February 2008 onwards. By May/June 2008 the whole investigation was a very expensive and largely unaccountable private sector operation run in the main by former Met officers whose employment was arranged by their former colleagues. I think the results speak for themselves.

  3. I believe the Governor is leaning on the old proverb; What you don’t know won’t hurt you.

    I would be more satisfied if our premiere agreed that he has been briefed and accept it is in Cayman national interest to classify the file top-secret..

  4. Caymanian-on-guard,

    The statement could not be more clear, although couched in diplomatic language…the file has ALREADY been declared top-secret and will never see the light of day again.

    This became a highly diplomatic incident quite early in the game, after Tempura’s investigators were on the ground in Cayman…all the evidence of this is in the ‘fine print’, which some parties are refusing to read correctly.

    That there has been a MASSIVE cover-up of that aspect of it goes without saying but the consequences of releasing all that happened with Tempura, epecially where the diplomatic sensitivity comes in, could be far greater…certain parties are simply refusing to accept that.

    Mr. Evans is British and very well knows how his own government works at home…as bad as the corruption in Cayman’s police might have been, it pales in comparison to corruption within the British police at the very highest levels in Britain; that has been most recently exposed and admitted by the police themselves, in the recent hacking scandal at News of the World, a now defunct newspaper.

    The only way to get Tempura’s classified documents into the public realm is to make it an irresistable story for one of the British tabloids but with this issue now being 4 years old, it has lost its relevancy.

    One day, the entire story will come out, as these things usually do…but, by then. it will be even more irrelevant than it is now.

    Time to let this thing go and move on.

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