While she did not entirely rule out the possibility, Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick said Tuesday that ongoing legal proceedings over the ill-fated Operation Tempura investigation make it unlikely that her office would authorize a new public inquiry into the matter anytime soon.
Moreover, Governor Kilpatrick questioned what such an inquiry might reveal beyond what is already known about the case, which was a two-year long, $10 million-plus investigation into police corruption in the Cayman Islands. The investigation ended with no criminal convictions of anyone for anything, but related probes ended in the firing or forced retirement of six Royal Cayman Islands Police officers for reasons that have never been made public.
“I firmly believe in openness and transparency and reject any allegations of a cover up by former [Cayman Islands] governors or the [U.K.] Foreign and Commonwealth Office in relation to Operation Tempura,” the governor told the Cayman Compass. “I am aware of the calls for a public inquiry. I am skeptical, however, given both the cost to date of Operation Tempura and associated legal action to Caymanian and British taxpayers, that another investigation would be a good use of public funds.”
The Compass recently reported that government had spent more than $3 million fighting off legal actions and open records requests related to Tempura, inclusive of a $1.275 million lawsuit settlement paid to Grand Court Judge Alexander Henderson over his wrongful arrest in connection with the investigation in September 2008. The $3 million does not include whatever was paid to Former Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, Former Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon or retired RCIPS Inspector Burmon Scott in their respective settlements with the government.
Former Auditor General Dan Duguay reported that the initial Tempura investigation between September 2007 and January 2009 spent $5.7 million. He also estimated another $1.1 million was spent between February and June 2009 on the continuing case. Subsequent investigations and court trials related to Operation Tempura and its spin-off Operation Cealt have never been assessed for costs.
The governor’s statement regarding U.K. taxpayer expenditures referred to staff time spent on the matter by foreign office employees both here and in London.
The ongoing legal proceedings referred to by the governor involve a lawsuit filed by ex-Commissioner Kernohan against Operation Tempura’s Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger. Mr. Kernohan also sued the Cayman Islands government, but that case was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum in March.
Mr. Bridger said last week that he had no indication from Mr. Kernohan’s attorneys as to whether the suit against him is being pursued.
The governor’s comment about a U.K. “cover up” relate to statements made during a conference earlier this month in Miami by both Mr. Bridger and former Operation Tempura prosecution witness John Evans that implicated senior British officials who they said were directing Tempura behind the scenes.
During the Offshore Alert Conference held May 4-6 in South Beach, Miami, Mr. Bridger said information about the investigations into police misconduct had been continually misrepresented by the media and public officials.
“Much of the commentary was inaccurate and perhaps motivated by the desire to bring about a premature end to ongoing investigations,” he said. “I am unrepresented and financially penalized. It is my opinion that the Cayman Islands and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office need to take a long hard look at themselves and stop using me as a scapegoat.
“It seems clear to me that someone, whether it be Kernohan or [former RCIPS Chief Supt. John] Jones or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is not telling the truth.”
Mr. Evans said he had developed serious concerns about how Operation Tempura was conducted and overseen, but he had been “stonewalled” by the U.K. Metropolitan Police, the RCIPS and particularly the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the governor’s office.
The two men were joined by Mr. Duguay and former Cayman Islands Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks in calling for a public inquiry into the events of Operation Tempura.