Outgoing Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor is now faced with an uncomfortable decision in his last few months in office.
According to the UK Metropolitan Police Service, criminal accusations made by former Cayman Islands corruption investigator Martin Bridger have been lodged as a formal complaint with Scotland Yard. Investigators there believe the allegations against three individuals – former Cayman Governor Stuart Jack, current Attorney General Sam Bulgin and UK Foreign and Commonwealth Florida-based adviser Larry Covington – should be looked into further.
However, it seems neither the UK Met, nor the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service – the subject of the original corruption probe by Mr. Bridger, known as Operation Tempura – is able to investigate the claims.
“It is for the police to decide whether or not there is ‘reasonable ground to suspect’ that a criminal offence may have been committed and whether or not an investigation should be commenced,” Mr. Bridger wrote in a statement sent to the Caymanian Compass earlier this week. “The Metropolitan Police have decided that this threshold has been reached and that the allegations warrant investigation.
“The commencement of an investigation does not reveal, or point to, anyone’s guilt or innocence.”
Attorney General Bulgin, somewhat uncharacteristically, blasted Mr. Bridger’s allegations in a public statement this week. Those allegations, among other things, accuse Mr. Jack and Mr. Bulgin of misleading Mr. Bridger’s investigative team as to the former governor and attorney general’s involvement in a police investigation that involved a covert entry into the Cayman Net News offices on 3 September, 2007. It was that Net News office entry that led to Mr. Bridger and his investigative team being called to the Cayman Islands.
“Not only do I strongly deny, but also resent any assertions of my being untruthful to the Tempura investigators,” Mr. Bulgin said. “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.”
Mr. Bulgin said he has urged Mr. Bridger and representatives for former RCIPS Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan to release legal advice he gave to the investigating RCIPS team prior to the entry into the Cayman Net News offices. Both sides have declined to do so.
“What [Mr. Bulgin] has said is a matter for him,” Mr. Bridger said. “I do not intend to get involved in a debate with the AG or anyone else concerning these matters whilst they are still under consideration by the Governor Duncan Taylor.”
Governor Taylor’s office has not responded to any of these matters this week, with representatives stating Mr. Taylor is awaiting legal advice before proceeding.
The governor has said it was his view that there should be no more investigations into Operation Tempura, a two-year probe that cost the Cayman Islands $10 million.
Mr. Bridger’s criminal complaint to the UK Metropolitan Police made earlier this year was backed up by statements from Mr. Kernohan and former RCIPS Chief Superintendent John Jones. Both Mr. Kernohan and Mr. Jones noted specific levels of involvement by the former governor and Mr. Bulgin in the initial investigation that led to the newspaper office entry.
However, Mr. Bridger’s and Mr. Jones’ statements have been called into question by the man who participated in the 3 September, 2007 office entry at Cayman Net News, retired UK journalist John Evans.
“I studied the statements made by Mr. Bridger and John Jones with a certain amount of disbelief,” Mr. Evans told the Caymanian Compass. “Mr. Bridger alleges that I somehow bypassed the alarm at [the former Net News offices] before entering the building … a version of events he knows is completely untrue.”
Mr. Evans was never charged with a crime in connection with that office entry. He also said there were a number of inconsistencies in Mr. Bridger’s statement to the UK Metropolitan Police that led to the police agency’s call for an investigation of the former governor and Attorney General Bulgin.
“On 3 April, 2008 … the Caymanian Compass reported that the [Operation Tempura] investigation team had expanded their enquiries into more general areas of alleged corruption within the RCIPS,” Mr. Evans said. “In fact, according to a statement sent to [Evans] by the Met last year, more than a month prior to that story [then]-UK Met Assistant Commissioner John Yates, with the approval of the Metropolitan Police Authority, had approved the outsourcing of the investigation to private contractors.
“None of this sounds like [a statement made by Mr. Bridger] ‘had I and Mr. Yates been told the truth from the outset, the Metropolitan Police’s commitment to the Cayman Islands would have been for a few weeks and not for two years’. In fact, it suggests quite the opposite, particularly bearing in mind the completely pointless prosecutions of [former Cayman Islands MLA] Lyndon Martin and [former RCIPS Deputy Commissioner] Rudi Dixon, plus the fiasco surrounding the unlawful arrest of Justice [Alex] Henderson.
“To be blunt, that whole sentence [from Mr. Bridger] looks like complete nonsense to me,” Mr. Evans said.
Mr. Bridger declined to comment on Mr. Evans’ statements.