Operation Tempura matters back before court

Two legal disputes related to the ill-fated Operation Tempura police corruption investigation of 2007-2009 are set to head back to the Cayman Islands Grand Court this week.

Both are related to the investigation’s former commanding officer Martin Bridger. The first issue, due before court Tuesday, involves whether certain records related to the corruption investigation should be released to the public.

Governor Helen Kilpatrick’s office is attempting to fight an order from the Cayman Islands Information Commissioner that required the release of a 2010 complaint over the alleged behavior of various individuals involved in the Tempura case. The records at issue are the complaint carried forward by Mr. Bridger and the governor’s subsequent evaluation of it.

The court dates for a judicial review application and potential full hearing have been set for Feb. 10-12.

The request for the complaint and evaluation were initially made in February 2012 by U.K. citizen and former Cayman Islands journalist John Evans. Mr. Evans said he was not invited to participate in the judicial review hearing.

“Nobody notified me of anything,” Mr. Evans said Monday.

Meanwhile, on Friday, a separate matter directly involving Mr. Bridger is due back in the Grand Court.

This case began in 2011 after Tempura’s former senior investigating officer sought the right to use documents in his own defense that the Cayman Islands attorney general believed he should not have access to.

Mr. Bridger remains the sole defendant in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by former Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Commissioner Stuart Kernohan over the Tempura debacle. That lawsuit, according to Mr. Kernohan’s attorneys, is not able to move forward until the dispute between Mr. Bridger and the attorney general’s chambers is resolved.

It has taken the court system nearly four years so far to do so.

According to court records obtained by the Cayman Compass, Attorney General Sam Bulgin filed a claim in Grand Court seeking to prevent the release in court of certain unidentified documents held by Mr. Bridger.

Court records filed in October 2011 state: “The grounds of this application are that, as set out in detail in the first affidavit of Vicki Ann Ellis [former Cayman Islands solicitor general], the defendant [Mr. Bridger] has threatened to disclose in the Kernohan proceedings certain privileged documents in circumstances where the court is entitled to and should restrain him from doing so.”

Mr. Bridger, former Governor Stuart Jack and the Cayman Islands government were named in a writ filed by Mr. Kernohan in 2009, claiming that the Operation Tempura probe and actions of Governor Jack cost Mr. Kernohan his contract with the RCIPS.

Legal proceedings in Cayman during 2011 ended up removing Mr. Jack from the lawsuit and also revealed that Mr. Bridger, who served during a portion of Operation Tempura as a paid member of the RCIPS, had been cast adrift by government to look after his own defense.

Former Acting RCIPS Commissioner James Smith was also removed from the lawsuit during the 2011 hearing. Mr. Kernohan settled the lawsuit against government for an undisclosed sum last year.