UK Met: AG, ex-Gov should be investigated

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The UK Metropolitan Police Service has recommended that a criminal investigation be commenced against the Cayman Islands attorney general, one of the territory’s former governors and an American-based adviser with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in connection with the ill-fated Operation Tempura corruption probe.  

The Met has recorded the allegations against three men – former Governor Stuart Jack, Attorney General Sam Bulgin and FCO adviser Larry Covington – in its “crime-related incident system”. But the police force has declined to take up the probe itself.  

All three men have denied any wrongdoing. 

“It is the [Metropolitan Police Services’] view that we are conflicted, and in order to ensure that both transparency and independence is maintained, we should not conduct this new investigation,” read a letter sent to Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor on 9 May by UK Met police commander Allan Gibson.  

Mr. Gibson’s letter was sent to Governor Taylor following a criminal complaint made to the UK Met by former Operation Tempura senior investigating officer Martin Bridger.  

Mr. Bridger has alleged that “very senior Crown servants” lied to him during the course of that nearly two-year long probe, thereby drawing out what should have been a quick case.  

The former senior investigator’s statements are backed up by claims made by former Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, who said that former Governor Jack knew of and authorised a covert entry into the offices of the Cayman Net News newspaper in September 2007, looking for evidence of a “corrupt relationship” between the newspaper’s publisher and an RCIPS deputy police commissioner. Significant detail contained in Mr. Kernohan’s statement to the UK Met in April 2013 alleged a level of involvement by former Governor Jack, up to and including authorisation of the use of Net News employees to perform the covert search as part of the police investigation, that had not previously been revealed.  

“If [Mr. Jack] had admitted that, I would’ve been gone in two weeks,” Mr. Bridger said last month during an interview with the Caymanian Compass. As it turned out, the retired UK lawman ended up staying in Cayman from September 2007 to April 2009 to investigate allegations of corruption in the local police force. No one was ever convicted of a crime in connection with that investigation.  

“In essence, the offences being alleged are against Stuart Jack; [Samuel Bulgin] and Larry Covington and amount to misconduct in public office, attempting to pervert the [course] of justice and possibly wasting police time,” read the letter to Governor Taylor from Mr. Gibson. “It is my view that the allegations are serious and contain sufficient detail to warrant a criminal investigation. 

“However, given that the allegations have been made by the very same officer who was sent by the [Met Police Service] to the Cayman Islands to carry out a scoping exercise … it is the [Met Police Service’s] view that we are conflicted.”  

The allegations made by Mr. Bridger are just that; no one has been arrested, charged or – at this stage – even questioned in connection with the matter.  

Attorney General Bulgin told the Compass Monday that he viewed Mr. Bridger’s allegations as “extremely defamatory”, given separate court reviews of the matter by Cayman Islands Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, UK Lord Chief Justice Alan Moses and then-visiting Judge Sir Peter Cresswell had all criticised one aspect or another of the Operation Tempura investigation as conducted by Mr. Bridger and/or his one-time legal adviser Martin Polaine.  

“It would be understandable for me to refrain from making any comments given that there are civil proceedings pending before the courts concerning the very issues raised in the story,” Mr. Bulgin said in a written statement sent to the Caymanian Compass. “However, I am content to note that this is yet another scandalous move in an ongoing campaign by Mr. Bridger, whom I am told has now joined forces with Mr. Kernohan. 

“The combined activities of these two men to date have already cost the Cayman Islands government millions of dollars, but for some reason they are bent on conduct which causes further financial and reputational damage to these islands and its various institutions.  

“Not only do I strongly deny, but also resent any assertions of my being untruthful to the Tempura investigators. There is not a shred of independent or contemporaneous evidence to support such a scurrilous claim and, to the contrary, the documents from that time demonstrate conclusively that the allegation is not true.  

“It is remarkable that Mr. Bridger’s one-sided and inaccurate account of events which are to his own entire discredit should have been thought worthy of further investigation. Once the documents are examined, however, his account does not stand scrutiny.  

“This is yet another shameful slur on the reputation of the Cayman Islands coming from a man who, by his conduct during the Operation Tempura investigations, long ago forfeited all credibility in these islands.  

“I note this for what it apparently is – a disgraceful and unfounded attack from discredited sources pursuing personal agendas. I will be considering instructing counsel both here and in the UK to pursue defamation actions against those responsible.”  

Mr. Jack sent the following comment to the Caymanian Compass late Monday afternoon: “I categorically deny the allegations made by Martin Bridger. One can only assume that Mr Bridger’s continued attempts to undermine my credibility are designed to further his own interests in relation to the forthcoming civil proceedings in the Cayman Islands. Such baseless accusations are deeply upsetting to my family and harmful to my reputation. I look forward to giving evidence as a witness when those civil proceedings come for trial in the Cayman Islands Grand Court. I have no doubt that the Court will find Mr Bridger’s remarks to be wholly unsubstantiated.”* 

A brief statement about the call for an investigation was received from Mr. Covington on Monday: “These are malicious allegations, which I vehemently deny. I have no further comment to make at this time until I seek legal advice.” 

With regard to Mr. Jack’s remarks concerning an investigation, it was unclear at press time who would even be able to look into such a case. If the UK Met commanders considered themselves “conflicted”, the RCIPS – the department initially at the centre of the corruption investigation led by Mr. Bridger – certainly could be said to have the same issues.  

The Compass contacted Governor Taylor’s office for comment on the matter Monday. Mr. Taylor’s chief of staff, Steve Moore, said they were awaiting legal advice before responding to Mr. Bridger’s complaint. 

 

Editor’s note: This item added to online version after print edition published Monday. 

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Mr. Jack

Mr Bulgin

Mr. Bulgin
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7 COMMENTS

  1. Mr Bridger might do well to heed the old warning – Do not dig a hole for another, you might just fall into it yourself!

    Presumably dis-satisfied by the way the FCO handled his 2010 complaint Martin Bridger has clearly simply changed tactics and is trying to go over much of the same old ground again but this time using a different route.

    Two things concern me.

    The first is why he has taken four years to come up with all this. Would it not have been more appropriate for his lawyers to raise it before Lord Chief Justice Moses in 2011?

    But the second is why, while calling on Duncan Taylor to demonstrate good governance, transparency and integrity Mr Bridger is still refusing to let us see the contents of his 2010 complaint.

    In fact if Duncan Taylor really wants to demonstrate good governance in his last few months in office he might consider finally ordering the long-overdue re-audit of Operations Tempura and Cealt. There are still many unanswered questions about the funding of the operations that need to be dealt with and plenty of evidence that the original audit was compromised.

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  2. It would be of great interest to the Cayman Public to bring all those involved in this TEMPURA SCANDAL to light. There is too much cover up to much secret society leading this country, and it is going to be worse now. Why don’t the Government and people of this island ask all those persons who are in the LA TO DECLARE WHICH OF THEM ARE PART OF A SECRET SOCIETY. Cayman we are doomed to hell.
    Talk about McKeva Bush? but as I see it there is bigger fish to catch in this Tempura Run. Who are our government anyway? We might as well begin to start getting the 666 on the top of our hands seeing what is taking place.

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  3. We already have an out for this, This file was closed in the interest of national security. I for one don’t need to hear anymore gossip about it, and Cayman has paid enough already for others mistakes. Go and fight somewhere else, we will not pay for the cleanup of any self-imposed Injury..

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  4. caymanian-on-guard I’m very tempted to agree with you here. The way things are going Martin Bridger has just opened the door for the people of the Cayman Islands to pick up another huge tab for legal expenses and costs – money that will be wasted and could be better spent elsewhere.

    However, this does all pave the way for the FCO (this time at their expense) to finally give in and subject the whole Tempura fiasco to a public inquiry.

    If we go back to 2008 and the Cresswell ruling, Martin Bridger was found to have committed the gravest abuse of process – but nothing was ever done about it.

    My own lengthy investigation into the 2009 audit revealed that crucial items of relevant information had been withheld from Dan Duguay and his team. Some of this information was so significant that its disclosure could have substantially altered the findings of the audit.

    Then we have the missing documentation, the questions about how Martin Polaine was recruited and the BGP contract. It just goes on, and on, and on. Everywhere you look there is a cover up and most of it has been by the investigating team.

    But rather than tackling it all head on, and in one go, what we have ended with up with is little more than a personal vendetta – sort of handbags at five paces.

    The FCO need to stop messing around and tackle all this once and for all. Not just Martin Bridger’s complaint or the 2010 Aina investigation, that is buried away on the grounds that beggar belief, but the whole nine yards.

    If Duncan Taylor wants to head off for Mexico on a high note he could do worse than set the wheels in motion for this kind of comprehensive investigation rather than just disappearing off into the sunset leaving his successor to clean up the mess.

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  5. @ Caymanian on Guard. I respect your comments about the TEMPURA file being closed for ‘national security’; but that is questionable as well.

    Let that be told to the GENUINE VINDICATED/INNOCENT parties that this entire false concoction has caused reputational harm to.

    I SAY LET IT ALL COME OUT, AS THE TRUTH NEEDS TO BE TOLD. WHEN WHOMEVER WAS CONCOCTING THEIR WITCHERY SPELL, NATIONAL SECURITY WAS NOT THE TALK THEN, SO LET THE TRUTH BE TOLD.

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  6. Caymanian-on-guard

    You’re not getting the point…there is no ‘out’ on this except the cat being let ‘out’ of the bag…this ‘bag’ of so-called ‘national security’ you keep harping about.

    Maybe you don’t get the fact that it was using this lame excuse of ‘national security’ that got this all started in the first place…

    And that excuse has run out of its shelf life.

    The opening of the files on this entire fiasco will take place in at least two stages…

    The judicial review will uphold the FOI Commissioner’s ruling and those documents under review will come into the public realm in their totality.

    The Metropolitan Police’s views that an formal CRIMINAL investigation be opened on the strength of Bridger’s and Kernohan’s complaints has to go before the Cabinet of David Cameron…this has gone far beyond the control and remit of the FCO, as it is one of their former governors, Stuart Jack, the AG of the Cayman Islands, Sam Bulgin and Larry Covington who will be investigated.

    Whether that investigation is authorised lies in the hands of the UK Govt. Cabinet…and Scotland Yard will play no part in it, if indeed it is authorised.

    You can look for David Cameron and his Cabinet to either wash their hands off the complaint and deny Scotland Yard’s request…or….

    Cameron’s Cabinet upholding the request…

    And calling the USA’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (the FBI)to investigate these charges.

    Take your pick as to which one you think will happen but what will NOT happen is this continuing cover-up under the guise of ‘national security’…and by-the-way…

    Who’s national security are you referring to in the first place ?

    Britain’s…or Cayman’s ?

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