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 www.cayCompass.com 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.