Ex-Operation Tempura chief blamed for legal delays
In a 49-page ruling made public Friday, a Cayman Islands Grand Court judge essentially blamed former Operation Tempura chief investigator Martin Bridger for significant delays in resolving legal matters related to a 2009 lawsuit filed over the Tempura case.
Contacted in the U.K. for comment Monday, Mr. Bridger declined to provide any statements for publication regarding the Cayman Islands court judgment.
The 2009 wrongful termination lawsuit, filed by former Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, was placed on hold partly due to an action Cayman Islands Attorney General Samuel Bulgin filed against Mr. Bridger more than two years later.
That action, according to a judgment in the case by Grand Court Judge Richard Williams made public last week, primarily sought to prevent Mr. Bridger from disclosing certain documents to any party involved in Mr. Kernohan’s lawsuit. The documents are generally described as legal advice provided to Mr. Bridger during his stint as the head of the Tempura police corruption investigation between 2007 and 2009.
The attorney general has maintained that the records are legally privileged and should not be released. Mr. Bridger has said that Mr. Kernohan and his attorneys should be able to inspect the documents as part of the ongoing litigation.
“Mr. Bridger is of the view that, if the attorney general succeeds in his application concerning the documents, it will have far-reaching consequences on his ability to defend the misfeasance of office claims brought by Mr. Kernohan against [Mr. Bridger],” Justice Williams’s judgment read.
In the judgment, Justice Williams expressed significant concern that “due to some inaccurate representations made in attorney correspondence and apparently in the media,” the court was being blamed for years-long delays in the Kernohan lawsuit.
The lawsuit was settled in March 2014 between Mr. Kernohan and the Cayman Islands government for an undisclosed sum. However, Mr. Bridger is still named separately as a defendant in the proceedings, meaning the matter in dispute between him and Mr. Kernohan remains unresolved.
Going through a detailed list of email communications between 2012 and 2013 as part of the court judgment, Justice Williams states that in March 2013, Mr. Kernohan’s attorneys at the Campbells law firm wrote to Cayman Islands Chief Justice Anthony Smellie concerning the attorney general’s action against Mr. Bridger delaying the 2009 lawsuit.
“It appears from the content [of the Campbell’s] letter that Campbells [was] implying that the court was at fault for not complying with its obligation ….” the judgment read.
However, Justice Williams states that claims of lack of communication between Mr. Bridger’s then-attorneys and the court on the issue between late 2012 and early 2013 were “fundamentally inaccurate …. especially as they may lead any reader to believe that the blame for the delay lay at the door of the Grand Court.”
“I am still firmly of the view that the delay stems back to [Mr. Bridger] seeking to file a further affidavit towards the end of the privilege hearing, as well as serving three other affidavits, including one from [former U.K. Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner] John Yates on the Friday before a Tuesday hearing,” Justice Williams wrote.
“I accept that it could also be said that the delay has partly arisen due to the court’s willingness, on more than one occasion, to afford additional opportunities to [Mr. Bridger] to file affidavit evidence very late on and in an unstructured manner,” the judgment continued.
Earlier this month, Justice Williams issued an amended order, which has still not been made public, regarding which of the documents Mr. Bridger has in his possession are considered legally privileged and what the penalties would be for anyone releasing those records.
Mr. Bridger – or anyone else – releasing the relevant records could face criminal penalties for acting in contempt of court.
The only way the records could be released is if the Kernohan v. Bridger lawsuit proceeds to trial in the Cayman Islands Grand Court. There has been no word on settlement talks between the two parties.