It will be up to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service – the agency first targeted in the Operation Tempura corruption probe – to decide whether a recent criminal complaint made over the conduct of that investigation will be looked into by law enforcement.
The UK Metropolitan Police Service has reviewed accusations made by former Cayman Islands corruption investigator Martin Bridger after he lodged a formal complaint with Scotland Yard earlier this year. Investigators there said they believed the criminal allegations against three individuals – former Cayman Islands Governor Stuart Jack, current Attorney General Sam Bulgin and UK Foreign and Commonwealth Florida-based adviser Larry Covington – should be looked into further.
Mr. Bridger has alleged that “very senior Crown servants” lied to him during the course of that nearly two-year long corruption probe, thereby drawing out what otherwise would have been a quick case. All three men mentioned in the above paragraph have denied any wrongdoing.
UK Metropolitan Police Commander Allan Gibson said last month that while there is enough information to pursue an investigation into Mr. Bridger’s claims, the UK Metropolitan Police Service would find itself “conflicted” in conducting such an 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, sent on 9 May. “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.”
According to a reply letter sent by Governor Taylor Monday to Mr. Gibson: “It seems to me that the appropriate course open to Mr. Bridger is for him to make such formal complaint as he wishes to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. It will then be for the RCIPS to consider its own position in the light of the material presented both as to whether it considers that it may take a formal decision on the question of an investigation or, if the RCIPS is itself similarly conflicted…how the complaint can be properly addressed.
“It would be open to the [RCIPS] Commissioner [David Baines] to enlist police officers from outside the Cayman Islands upon such contractual terms as to him may appear necessary…”
Such a move would put responsibility for any further criminal investigation into Operation Tempura squarely under the control of the agency that had its three top commanders placed on required leave during that probe. None of those commanders, former Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, Deputy Commissioner Rudi Dixon or Chief Superintendent John Jones still work for the local police service.
Commissioner Baines arrived in Cayman in mid-2009 while Operation Tempura and its off-shoot investigation, Operation Cealt, were still ongoing. A number of cases handled by Mr. Baines’s Anti-Corruption Unit involved matters uncovered during the course of Operation Cealt.
Governor Taylor said he would be informed of any decisions made regarding Mr. Bridger’s criminal complaint but that, in this scenario “the decision would be that of the commissioner”.
Mr. Taylor also called it “disappointing and regrettable” that Mr. Gibson’s letter of 9 May found its way into the public domain.
“It is unsatisfactory and unfortunate for investigations or potential investigations to be the subject of running commentaries in the media,” Mr. Taylor wrote.
The governor said he had essentially deferred to Commissioner Baines on the matter because his responsibility for policing in the Cayman Islands “do not provide the governor with a decision making role in relation to the initiation of individual criminal investigations”.