UK taxpayers hit by Tempura costs

While it may seem small in comparison to the more than $10 million spent by the Cayman Islands on the Operation Tempura corruption investigation, some of the bill from the ill-fated probe is being paid by U.K. taxpayers.

According to records obtained by the Cayman Compass and reports in the U.K. press, former Operation Tempura senior investigator Martin Bridger has been paid roughly CI$250,000 [£180,000] in legal assistance and has authorization to receive about CI$372,500 more [£268,000] should the need arise.

Mr. Bridger could not be contacted for comment Monday at his home in the U.K.

The veteran cop previously told the Compass that he had sought additional financial assistance from the U.K. Metropolitan Police in defending civil claims brought against him by the Cayman Islands government in Britain. Mr. Bridger told the newspaper that he had recently received a £200,000 bill from the Cayman government following a hearing in the U.K. where Caymanian officials attempted to recover certain records they believed the retired U.K. lawman still had in his possession from Operation Tempura.

Mr. Bridger said he feared his family’s home would have to be mortgaged in order for him to afford rapidly mounting legal bills related to civil actions filed against him in the Tempura matter.

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Mr. Bridger still has a lawsuit pending against him filed by former RCIPS Commissioner Stuart Kernohan. Mr. Kernohan’s wrongful termination lawsuit against the Cayman Islands government was settled earlier this year for an undisclosed sum. However, that settlement left out Mr. Bridger, who expects the matter to proceed in Cayman.

According to records obtained by the Compass, Mr. Bridger first applied to receive funding from a Metropolitan Police Authority committee in December 2011, seeking legal assistance to defend himself against matters related to the lawsuit filed by Mr. Kernohan.

“Mr. Bridger contends he was acting in good faith throughout [the Tempura investigation],” the application states. The contention was supported by the Metropolitan police committee that reviewed the matter.

“In summary, police officers must be confident that police authorities will provide financial support for officers in legal proceedings where they have acted in good faith and have exercised their judgment reasonably,” the committee evaluation for the funding application stated. “There should be a strong presumption in favor of payment where these criteria are met.”

The funding decisions in cases like Mr. Bridger’s were transferred to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, or MOPAC. That office confirmed to the Mail on Sunday that additional funding for the case had been approved.

It was presumed the initial £180,000 was approved by the Metropolitan Police Authority in 2011, but open records requests regarding the application never revealed a specific amount paid for Mr. Bridger’s legal expenses.

‘Alone with baby’

Following news in late March that Mr. Kernohan had settled his lawsuit against the government, Mr. Bridger quipped that he “felt like I’ve been left alone holding the baby.”

In addition to ongoing troubles in civil court in the U.K. and in Cayman, Mr. Bridger had also filed a criminal complaint with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service regarding allegations that Cayman’s former governor, Stuart Jack, and current Attorney General Samuel Bulgin lied to him about their level of involvement in the matters Tempura was investigating.

No word on what occurred with that criminal complaint has ever been made public.

Mr. Bulgin and Mr. Jack have denied all such allegations by Mr. Bridger, and the former governor has said it was “high time” for Mr. Bridger to be held accountable for his “behavior.”

Mr. Bridger said he was stunned by Mr. Kernohan’s decision to settle the lawsuit with the Cayman Islands government, and that he still believed it was important that all the facts surrounding the Tempura case were made public.

Other records held by Mr. Bridger are the subject of an ongoing open records dispute between the Cayman Islands governor’s office and the territory’s information commissioner. Those records include a complaint made by Mr. Bridger about the conduct of certain judges and individuals within the attorney general’s office during Operation Tempura and the governor’s subsequent evaluation of it.

Acting Information Commissioner Jan Liebaers recently ordered those records to be released. The governor’s office has not said whether it would appeal that decision.

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  1. I suppose a cynic could argue that it was about time the UK taxpayer took a hit on this. Needless to say the reaction to the news over here has been pretty hostile. The British public may not be too worried about Cayman Islands funds being wasted but when it comes to their own money (particularly when the Met are involved) they tend to get a bit upset.

    What really annoyed people when the news broke here is that these awards have been made while at least six former police officers are fighting compensation claims against the Met. These all relate to the activities of CIB3 in the 1990s and, although I’m not suggesting that he was involved in any wrongdoing, for them to see a former senior member of that unit get these substantial handouts is going to prompt more than a few complaints.

    You definitely have not heard the last of this story.