The “truth” about what really happened during the ill-fated Operation Tempura corruption probe in the Cayman Islands is being “hindered by various court actions”, the operation’s former top investigator said this week.
Retired UK lawman Martin Bridger was told Monday by Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor that he would have to file a criminal complaint over the actions of the territory’s former governor and the current attorney general with the sitting commissioner of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. The RCIPS was the initial target of the Operation Tempura corruption probe that lasted in the Cayman Islands between 2007 and 2009.
Mr. Bridger filed a criminal complaint over the alleged actions of former Governor Stuart Jack and Attorney General Sam Bulgin with the UK Metropolitan Police Service earlier this year. The Met said there appeared to be enough information in the complaint to warrant an investigation, but that Scotland Yard could not perform such a review because of conflicts.
UK Met Commander Allan Gibson wrote to Governor Taylor in May informing him of the Met’s findings. Mr. Taylor on Monday punted the matter over to RCIPS Commissioner David Baines for a decision, assuming Mr. Bridger filed a similar complaint with the RCIPS as he had with the UK Met.
Mr. Bridger on Tuesday indicated he was likely to do so: “I remain committed to doing whatever I can to ensure that the truth about Operation Tempura and what happened as a result of it, is made public.
“My efforts have been hindered by the various court actions taken against me by the attorney general and Commissioner of Police David Baines, the reason being to prevent me from using certain documents I hold, which would assist in my defence of [a lawsuit filed against the Cayman Islands government and Mr. Bridger by former Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan].”
Mr. Kernohan sued the Cayman Islands government in 2009, claiming he had been wrongfully fired from his job by ex-Governor Jack. Mr. Jack was dropped from that lawsuit, but Mr. Bridger is still a defendant. The matter has never come to court.
“If and when all the issues are fully available and understood, the people of the Cayman Islands will then be able to make judgments on the actual facts,” Mr. Bridger said. “I was disappointed that the [UK] Metropolitan police involved the governor and surprised that it has taken the governor so long to come to this obvious conclusion [to send the matter back to the RCIPS]. I now need to think carefully about taking my allegation to Mr. Baines as I feel he is conflicted.”
Commissioner Baines, who became the RCIPS commissioner in June 2009, was not in Cayman for most of the Operation Tempura investigation. However, Mr. Baines was involved to a certain extent in follow up investigations handled by the RCIPS Anti-Corruption Unit into ancillary criminal allegations involving police officers raised in the spin-off investigation from the Tempura case, known as Operation Cealt.
Mr. Baines accepted there could be perceptions of a conflict of interest, but said the RCIPS had to be involved somewhere along the line in any review of criminal allegations in the Cayman Islands. In particular, this was the case with the Operation Tempura claims made by Mr. Bridger, because the RCIPS retains most of the records on the subject.
“Everybody would appear to be conflicted in this in one way or another; we have to start somewhere,” the commissioner said Tuesday. “Once I have the confirmation that a complaint has been made, I will initiate a review.”
Mr. Baines said that even if a special police team was brought in from outside to look into Mr. Bridger’s allegations, there could still be claims of conflict.
“For them to have powers here, I have to make them officers,” he said.