Bridger off hook in contempt case

In a whirlwind week for the former top police corruption investigator in the Cayman Islands, Martin Bridger learned that not only was he under a criminal investigation in Cayman, but also that previously undisclosed contempt of court allegations pending against him had been resolved.  

Mr. Bridger, who arrived on Grand Cayman last Tuesday night to attend the various court proceedings centering around him, headed home to the U.K. on Saturday.  

The contempt allegations were filed against Mr. Bridger in June 2014 via the Cayman Islands Attorney General’s Office, years after Mr. Bridger served as the top cop in the Operation Tempura corruption investigation between September 2007 and April 2009.  

In the Grand Court on Friday, it was revealed that the contempt complaint was related to Mr. Bridger’s alleged release in March 2014 of 10 “prohibited documents” containing privileged legal advice from the Cayman Islands government that had been shared with him during the Tempura investigation. It was not stated in court to whom those records had been released.  

Further, it was alleged that Mr. Bridger had publicly discussed some matters relating to the legal advice during an appearance at the May 2014 Offshore Alert conference in Miami, Florida.  

Mr. Bridger argued in court submissions that nothing he released or discussed could have been construed as a breach of earlier court orders issued by Cayman Islands Grand Court Justice Richard Williams in relation to the Tempura records.  

Without judging either side of the contempt argument, Justice Williams said Friday that a “sensible resolution” had been reached in the matter. Justice Williams said a supplemental order detailing precisely which Tempura documents must be kept confidential had been agreed to by both parties and that, if either one breached the court order, they could be arrested and subject to criminal prosecution.  

Both sides in the case were also required to pay their own legal fees.  

According to reports in the U.K. press, since December 2011, Mr. Bridger has received approval for legal support totaling around US$500,000 – partly from the U.K. Metropolitan Police and partly from the London Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime – to assist in his defense of court actions brought against him regarding various Operation Tempura-related matters.  

A statement released by the Metropolitan Police last year indicated that Mr. Bridger’s actions during the Tempura probe appeared to have been “made in good faith and in accordance with … [the] law.” 

“[The Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime] has agreed to authorize funding to cover Mr. Bridger’s legal fees on strict conditions that these matters are brought to a swift conclusion. The [Met] supports the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime’s decision which allows us to fulfill our obligations to Mr. Bridger as a former employee. We also support [the office’s] conditions regarding a swift conclusion.” 

Criminal allegations brought against Mr. Bridger in Cayman are the result of a counter claim following an allegation of crime the retired U.K. lawman brought against the territory’s former governor, attorney general and a Florida-based adviser to the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 

An August 2014 statement from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service evaluated claims made by Mr. Bridger that former Cayman Islands Governor Stuart Jack, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin and U.K. foreign office adviser Larry Covington deceived Mr. Bridger and his Operation Tempura investigators about the extent of their involvement in the probe. In addition to stating that no criminal offenses had occurred, the RCIPS noted that the counter allegations of criminal conduct had been made in relation to Mr. Bridger’s “account and publishing of data within the media.” 

The RCIPS has never specified exactly what Mr. Bridger is alleged to have done, and no charges have been filed against him to date.  

Mr. Bridger, notified that the investigation was ongoing this week, declined to comment.  

Also outstanding is a lawsuit former RCIPS Commissioner Stuart Kernohan filed in 2009 against the Cayman Islands government and Mr. Bridger. Mr. Kernohan’s attorneys settled with the local government last year, but Mr. Bridger is still listed as a defendant in the lawsuit and has said the claims against him there have not been settled.  

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Martin Bridger leaves the Cayman Islands Grand Court building last week following a hearing. – Photo: Jewel Levy
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