Governor takes FOI request to court

‘Operation Tempura’ complaint at issue

Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor is expected to file a request Monday seeking judicial review of an order his office received to release a complaint by former “Operation Tempura” chief investigator Martin Bridger. 

The order to release the complaint came in a November decision by Cayman Islands Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert. The governor’s request seeking judicial review is believed to be the first time one of Mrs. Dilbert’s orders has been challenged in court since the territory’s Freedom of Information Law took effect in January 2009.  

“After taking legal advice, the governor has decided to seek leave for judicial review of the Information Commissioner’s decision,” governor’s office staffer Tom Hines said Friday. “We will be filing the application on Monday, 7 January.”  

A judicial review request is the legal procedure anyone can use to challenge a decision by the Information Commissioner before the Cayman Islands Grand Court. The review process can be used in cases where Mrs. Dilbert has declined to release documents as well as in cases – such as the one involving the Operation Tempura complaint – where she has ordered them to be released.  

In this case, Mrs. Dilbert ordered not only the release of Mr. Bridger’s complaint, but also said that Governor Taylor’s office should release a response that evaluated the claims put forth in that complaint.  

The governor said the complaint was without merit following the issuance of a 185-page review done on it by United Kingdom-based Queen’s Counsel Benjamin Aina. 

Previous open records requests for the complaint and Mr. Aina’s subsequent review of it filed by the Caymanian Compass and former Cayman Net News reporter John Evans were foiled when the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office declined to release them on the grounds that they could prejudice relations between Britain and the Cayman Islands. 

Mr. Evans also filed an open records request with the governor’s office seeking to obtain a copy of Mr. Bridger’s complaint. It was denied initially and then that denial was overturned by the information commissioner. It was Mr. Evans’ request that ultimately led to the judicial review filing by Governor Taylor’s office.  

Mr. Evans said Friday that he was not surprised by Governor Taylor’s decision to seek judicial review, although he questioned what local judge would be able to hear the case since Mr. Bridger’s complaint reportedly involved allegations made against sitting members of the Cayman Islands judiciary. Governor Taylor has said those allegations were untrue and potentially libellous.  

“This just raises serious questions about why the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the governor’s office are so desperate to keep the whole matter under wraps,” Mr. Evans said. “Duncan Taylor must know by now that Operations Tempura and Cealt were a complete fiasco. Mr. Taylor you can, with due respect, bury your head in the sands of Seven Mile Beach and hope it all goes away, but it won’t.”  

Mr. Taylor made no direct comment on the situation last week.  

Operation Tempura and its subsequent spin-off investigation, dubbed “Operation Cealt”, were misconduct and corruption-related probes into various activities of Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officers. The two-year, $10 million dollar Operation Tempura probe did not secure any criminal convictions against anyone for anything, but it did lead to the ouster of former Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and the eventual retirement of former Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon. Mr. Kernohan is still suing the Cayman Islands government over what his lawyers said was a wrongful termination from his post. Mr. Dixon was reportedly paid a six-figure settlement as part of his agreement to retire.  

The outcome of the probe once referred to as “Cealt” has never been made clear. However, since aspects of that investigation were taken over by the police service’s Anti-Corruption Unit, a number of police officers have faced discipline for unknown reasons, including a full half-dozen who were fired.  

Contacted in the UK, Mr. Bridger – Operation Tempura’s senior investigating officer between September 2007 and April 2009 – said he was disappointed in the governor’s decision. Mr. Bridger has a copy of his complaint, which was initially filed by Operation Tempura legal adviser Martin Polaine and later taken up by Mr. Bridger after Mr. Polaine dropped the issue, claiming his “life had been ruined”. However, Mr. Bridger said he gave Governor Taylor his word that he would not release the complaint or the governor’s findings on it.  

“To that I have held true,” Mr. Bridger said. “I am now taking legal advice, as I may join the judicial review as an interested party. I look forward to the day that my complaint and the governor’s findings are to be subjected to public scrutiny.” 

Mr. Bridger was named as a defendant, along with Cayman Islands Attorney General Sam Bulgin, in the lawsuit filed by Mr. Kernohan over the former police commissioner’s firing in late 2008. That lawsuit has been delayed by interminable court actions where Mr. Bulgin’s office sought to prevent the use by Mr. Bridger of certain documents related to Operation Tempura if the Kernohan lawsuit goes to trial.  

Attempts to force Mr. Bridger to return certain records in his possession by the Cayman Islands attorney general’s office failed in a UK court hearing held last year. Efforts to mediate Mr. Kernohan’s lawsuit in the UK last year also did not succeed.  

A similar application requiring Mr. Bridger to return the documents was heard before Cayman Islands Grand Court Justice Richard Williams last year. It’s not known if any ruling on that application has been made. Mr. Bridger said he was not aware of any decision as of Friday. 

Gov Duncan Taylor

Mr. Taylor
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27 COMMENTS

  1. Firstly I want to make it very clear that the reason that I have not spoken publicly about my complaint or the Governors (FCO) findings (Benjamin Aina’s report) is because in order to receive a copy of it, I reluctantly had to sign an undertaking not to show it to anyone other than my barrister. Since I left the Cayman Islands in 2009 and after receiving the Governors response two years ago, I have remained silent. However, I am so pleased that the matters are now coming to light. I hope that one day soon the people of the Cayman Islands will know the full truth of what occurred in Operation Tempura and why I took certain actions as the lead investigator.

    Had I known certain facts, which appear to have been kept from me and the Metropolitan Police service at the time, I may never have made some of the decisions that I made. Every effort has and continues to be made by the establishment both in the Cayman Islands and the UK to prevent the truth being told.

    I will continue with my fight to have the truth fully exposed which will enable both the Cayman Islands and the International community to make judgements about the investigation when in possession of all the facts and in the absence of misinformation, rumour and innuendo. There is still much to be exposed about this investigation.

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  2. There is never smoke without fire, and for one who was caught up in circumstances, innocently, that became a part of these investigations, I know, for sure that there is more than smoke behind all this.

    The Caymanian public to whom this ongoing situation is still relevant and interesting must read between the lines and figure out why Governor Taylor and his bosses have gone to the extent to cover up and hide the truth from them; they must also recognise that their funds have paid for all this and that they have a right to know the truth.

    That the full facts will eventually come into the public realm is a foregone conclusion.

    It is merely a matter of time, and not long from now either.

    And, also, long overdue.

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  3. It seems the one thing this has achieved is that Martin Polaine, Martin Bridger and myself are all united in a desire for a public inquiry into Tempura and Cealt. I also want to have the audit re-visited and the original findings of that audit reviewed in the light of material released to me last year.

    However, at this point I would respectfully suggest to Mr Bridger that there is a way he could move this along if he really wants to.

    I understand the original complaint, filed by Martin Polaine in 2010, is not subject to the gagging order and that only applies to the Aina report. In fact the original complaint has been seen by a number of people and details were published by the Financial Times two years ago so it’s hardly a confidential document any more.

    I can see no good reason why that original complaint should not now be released to the Caymanian Compass by the complainants as the first step towards revealing what Mr Bridger describes as – the full truth of what occurred.

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  4. Great job Jennifer Dilbert for keeping your feet firmly stuck in the sand rather than your head, which seems to be a Governor Taylor passion. During the well publicized Fairbanks strip search incident he denied the Prison officers took revenge because the girls wrote a complaint letters. This raises the question as to why would he ignore the Complaints Commissioners TWO investigations into the incident when both times she found the Prison guilty of retaliation. The Governor was swamped with FOI evidence that clearly proved a reprisal took place, yet he chose to ignore the FOI data. Maybe if he’d pull his head out of the sand he could see more clearly.

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  5. Yes I too take off my hat to Ms Jennifer Dilber standing tall. She has a job to do, do it without out fear. Too much dirty works has been going on in this Island, and it is about time they are uncovered. I am sure the Governor will be shaking in his boots for another year. If he know what is behond the horizon he would never have requested another year. We have money in Cayman, lots of it, and we are going to use it to sue. Caymanians are not going to rollover and play dead to the Conspiracy theory that has been going on for the past 10 years. It is over.

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  6. Mr Martin Bridger, I say thanks to you or making those comments. We are following you, because we want to know exactly what went down. It is all finally coming out.

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  7. I agree wholeheartedly with John Evans that all aspects of Operation Tempura and the circumstances surrounding it should be the subject of a full and robust inquiry.

    As to who should conduct such a task, rather than a judicial inquiry, I would like to see something akin to the very imaginative approach that led to the establishment, in the UK, of the Independent Panel on Hillsborough, but with proceedings taking place in public. Perhaps in the case of Tempura, it would be apt, and in the interests of the Cayman Islands, to have a panel comprised largely of Caymanians.

    I am incredibly disappointed, but not surprised, that the Governor is still resisting any public scrutiny of the complaint made by Martin Bridger and me and of the assessment of it by Benjamin Aina QC. I still find the lack of transparency around the whole matter quite shocking. There were some very odd occurrences both before, and in the immediate aftermath of, the Governor’s dismissal of the complaint. I cling to the hope that Mr Aina’s report, sight of which has been denied to me, provides some clues as to what took place in that regard.

    I can understand why Mr Evans urges that the original complaint be put in the public domain. Given everything I now know, there is nothing I would like more; indeed, I would gladly do it myself. However, I’ve seen all too closely just how certain ‘interests’ would react and how, justified or not, there are those out there who would not hesitate to use such an action on my part against me.

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  8. This just raises serious questions about why the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the governor’s office are so desperate to keep the whole matter under wraps, Mr. Evans said. Duncan Taylor must know by now that Operations Tempura and Cealt were a complete fiasco. Mr. Taylor you can, with due respect, bury your head in the sands of Seven Mile Beach and hope it all goes away, but it won’t.

    Mr. Evans, your statement above is spot on. In addition, the 10m allegedly spent out of our coffers thus far needs to be accounted for.

    MLAs as a representative of the people, it is your duty to pursue this matter on our behalf and get to the bottom of this fiasco so that we can know the truth.

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  9. Check out the police officers who did the investigations in the TCI and the Judge who signed the warrant for the man arrest. You will be surprised to know where the judge is now sitting, and who the police officers are and where they are from. A conspiracy theory.

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  10. …Every effort has and continues to be made by the establishment both in the Cayman Islands and the UK to prevent the truth being told and …There is still much to be exposed about this investigation—-Martin Bridger.

    Governor Duncan Taylor, recently you were lauded in a full page advert on what a fine job you had done for these Cayman Islands, now, please continue to do that job for the Caymanian people and release the documents so that we can know the truth. This has cost us 10M, 10M that we could not afford. It is high time we know what went on!!!!!

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  11. I would like to thank those of you who have ‘liked’ my Dads comment. I find all this extremely frustrating, I know many facts that your Government and the FCO are not allowing my Dad to reveal, there is obviously a reason they don’t want all of this in the public domain and that is because the whole thing is a huge cover up! My Dad has earned the Queens Police Medal (QPM) and that’s because he is a very successful detective, your Island was very lucky to have him, I know some of you met him and thanked him for his courage to carry on and get the truth out. It’s just a shame that the public want honesty and some of your leaders want cover ups! How is it right that the innocent person who just wants your home to be free from corruption is the one who is being punished?! It’s about time that all of the truth came out, the establishment may get to live in paradise but paradise to our family would just be to put all the facts in the public domain.

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  12. In reply to Martin Polaine.

    I do not understand how you can say – I still find the lack of transparency around the whole matter quite shocking – while refusing to release a document that you, by your own admission in an email to me last March, discussed on the record with Michael Peel at the FT nearly two years ago. He then went on to publish extracts of it.

    Check out – http://www.compasscayman.com/story.aspx?id=46025

    There seems to an element of having your proverbial cake and eating it here. You require transparency from the Governor and CIG but want to hide behind excuses that a mythical ‘they’ will set out to get you if you go public.

    Mr Polaine you are an experienced lawyer, something like this should cause you no problems. It is certainly nothing that I would think twice about doing and there’s a certain lack of sincerity creeping into your excuses.

    Why not just email a copy of the complaint to the Compass and see what happens?

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  13. Sophie, many of us here in the Cayman Islands understands your frustration and also wants the air to be cleared. However, it is the Governor Duncan and the FCO that is complicit in not releasing the information. I do hope that your Dad is able to continue fighting and can release the documents that he has. Our government which consists of our elected officials/representatives are spineless and will only allow this to be swept under the rug. Thanks God for your dad and Mr. Evans.

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  14. Its sad when Individuals cannot compel the state to provide documents under control of the state to clear their name(s).

    Mr. Bridger is being harmed by the Governor wanting to not disclose these documents. What is there to hide?

    It seems that the FCO, Governor and RCIPS are being used to destroy the Cayman Islands – whether that is by arresting judges, ruining the careers of senior police officers and possibly even the former Premier.

    The Govenor needs to be transparent – again – what is it that they have to hide??

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  15. Calling the Cayman Islands Third world country?? and behaving like we are nothing. Well we have money to burn, and we are going to burn it till we get to the bottom of the pile of corrupt conspirary which took place.
    I am now wondering why did the Governor ask for another year in cayman, although fire was burning under his feet. I am scratching my head and asking, was it just to see the fall of the Premier? Well what they say? What goes around comes around. Mr Governor the circle is reaching Government house and the police Commissioner office. Maybe a judge chamber too. Time to run.

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  16. In reply to John Evans:

    Mr Evans, to set the record straight, I recollect that, last March, you sought a copy of the complaint from me and I, by email, replied:

    It’s never been my view that ‘leaking’ my complaint to the press would be the right way forward. That’s why I have never done so. Even in the case of the FT, all I have done is (when approached by them) to answer truthfully non-contentious questions.

    I hope, therefore, that others will not view this as ‘having my proverbial cake’. In my position, would you really disclose ‘and see what happens’? I don’t think I’m that brave!

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  17. Atticus you speak the truth, remember when Mr Bush was telling Cayman that the FCO, The Governor and the Commissioner was all in this? We never wanted to believe him. Now it is all coming out. God is good.

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  18. Hunter – Operation Tempura was started by complaints made by McKeeva Bush and his former UDP colleague Lyndon Martin. If there was a conspiracy they must both have been involved in it.

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  19. Speaker!! Investigations started by Bush and Lyndon to investigate WHO? Ye do not believe it was the FCO, Governors and Commissioners? This thing been stink for years now.

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  20. In reply to Martin Polaine –

    Non-contentious questions – you are having a laugh at our expense are you not?

    You selectively gave Michael Peel the most damaging and potentially libelous allegations from your complaint in the knowledge that his use of them shielded you from any risk of action for criminal defamation in the Cayman Islands. That is not criticism because it was a smart move, which I respect.

    As for bravery? Well based on my treatment at the hands of your colleague Martin Bridger I would have to accept that you are probably one those who prefer to lead from a safe distance behind when things get mucky, that I do not respect. Having kicked this off you are now trying to dodge responsibility for what you started. That rather tends to confirm the conclusion Benjamin Aina came to that the complaints were unfounded.

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  21. If the UK representative/Governor of the Cayman Islands was really interested in good governance, he would release this information, as ordered by the Information Commissioner. I would strongly suggest the people of the Cayman Islands should become more concerned about who is policing the police. Many people want to know what is contained in those documents that ‘may’ jeopardize the relationship between the Cayman Islands and the UK.

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