Tempestuous Tempura: Time for 
a public inquiry

At the OffshoreAlert conference in Miami last week, Martin Bridger, the former senior investigating officer of Operation Tempura, called for a “public inquiry” into the 5-year-old (and still simmering) scandal.

We concur. In fact, we are convinced that nothing short of a full-scale inquiry, conducted in public by objective impartial jurists (meaning not directed by the United Kingdom or the Cayman Islands) will suffice.

Those heading up such an inquiry must have full subpoena power to call witnesses and compel testimony with criminal sanctions of perjury at the ready.

For context, the publisher of the Compass was an editor at The Washington Post during the famous Watergate scandal which led to the resignation of the president of the United States, Richard M. Nixon. Similar to Tempura, the Watergate saga began with a break-in – specifically to the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.

(For clarity, Tempura began with an entry into the Cayman Net News offices of publisher Desmond Seales but, unlike Watergate, the Net News entry was never found to be a “burglary” or in any way illegal.)

At the close of the Watergate investigations and prosecutions, 69 government officials had been charged with crimes. Forty-eight were found guilty, and many went to prison, including U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell.

Since the break-in at the Watergate complex in 1972, the publisher had not personally encountered a scandal and its subsequent cover-up of the magnitude of Tempura.
Largely, but not entirely, Tempura has been a U.K.-orchestrated affair, carried out by U.K. operatives with oversight and sanction provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

There is one indisputable fact: Former Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan was a victim of a government-sponsored campaign. Successive governors and successive police commissioners knew it (and privately admitted it) yet stood by as the power – and the purse – of the state were brought to bear to destroy his life.

A public inquiry – sunshine being the best disinfectant – should look into at least the following:

On April 4, 2008, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie issued a 51-page ruling that concluded, “There is no reasonable basis for concluding on careful application of the law, that the Com. Pol [Kernohan] or Chief Supt. Jones committed any criminal offense.” That ruling should have ended the persecution of Kernohan, Jones and, in effect, Operation Tempura. But it did not. Why not?

The inquiry should also look into the activities of the Special Investigation Advisory Group, headed up by Deputy Chief Secretary and Chief Officer for the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs Donovan Ebanks and other local representatives.

Most importantly, the inquiry must reveal what actually took place during – and after – the multi-year, multimillion-dollar Tempura investigations. Clearly the probe went far beyond its original stated intent of examining corruption (none was ever found) in the ranks of the RCIPS. What were these investigators investigating?

In addition to calling for a public inquiry, the Compass will make this standing offer: We will provide full pages in our newspaper to all key players in Tempura who wish to inform the public of their role in the investigation. We will publish their remarks without editing at no cost.

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1 COMMENT

  1. The other major aspect of this fiasco that a public inquiry needs to examine is the refusal to re-visit the Tempura/Cealt audit.

    I have evidence that this 2009 investigation into operational financing was obstructed, discouraged and finally lied to. That in simple terms represents conduct unacceptable in the public sector and potentially has criminal implications.

    The official responses to my requests for a new audit suggest that there is a failure to understand the extent of the problems with the original audit and possibly that the Auditor General’s Office has nobody qualified to move this away from the simple value-for-money aspects into forensic issues.

    Whatever, I now know that the cover up on this extends way outside the Cayman Islands. In February, using arguments successfully used by Martin Bridger last year, I filed a criminal complaint with the Metropolitan Police about this refusal to re-open the audit. It cited Section 17 of the Theft Act 1968, False Accounting, as grounds for concern and named Duncan Taylor as the senior FCO representative.

    The response from the Met, received over two months later and after no investigation had taken place, reads, ‘As you are aware, there are complex legal proceedings underway in the Cayman Islands; these need to run their course.’ In contrast Mr Bridger’s complaint was fast-tracked through the Met and referred to the Governor. As one my media contacts here observed, Why didn’t they just tell you to get stuffed?

    The Compass has already indicated that the bill for Tempura and Cealt is at least CI14million; I suspect that is a very conservative figure. This money wasn’t just quietly handed over so at every stage someone, somewhere in CIG had to approve it and authorise the payments. Whoever they were needs to be identified and made to explain themselves.

    If anyone thinks this will quietly go away they’re very much mistaken. The issue of that brush off by the Met is already being referred to my MP.

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