Detectives with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service are due to be dispatched to the U.K. later this year as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the former senior investigating officer of the ill-fated Operation Tempura corruption probe, the Cayman Compass has learned.
Martin Bridger, a retired U.K. police officer who led the Tempura investigation between 2007 and 2009, has never been interviewed in connection with the investigation of him that has purportedly been under way since mid-2013.
The investigation involves an allegation of crime Mr. Bridger made to the RCIPS, stating that he was misled by Cayman’s former governor, Stuart Jack, and other senior officials about police corruption claims. Mr. Bridger has said that if he had not been misled at the time, the Operation Tempura probe would have ended in a matter of weeks.
Instead, the probe carried on for more than two years and cost Cayman Islands taxpayers more than $10 million.
U.K. sources confirmed to the Compass this week that they were contacted by RCIPS officers seeking to arrange interviews related to the Bridger investigation.
An RCIPS spokesperson declined to comment.
RCIPS officers previously attempted to meet and interview Mr. Bridger in connection with his initial allegation of crime, but said he abruptly cancelled that meeting days before it was scheduled to occur.
Mr. Bridger also declined to comment. He has previously alleged that the RCIPS investigation of him is a clear attempt to prevent the release of certain public records related to the Tempura investigation.
“It does seem that the rhetoric of openness, transparency and good governance is being compromised by the continued and ongoing efforts to keep material away from public scrutiny,” Mr. Bridger said in a statement to the Compass last month.
Cayman Islands Acting Information Commissioner Jan Liebaers ordered the local governor’s office last month to release certain records it holds related to the Tempura investigation. The Feb. 15 order was the third time Mr. Liebaers’s office has issued such a decision, based on a 2012 open records request made by retired U.K. journalist John Evans.
In a previous response to the information commissioner’s order, the governor’s office has sought to delay release of the records sought due to the ongoing investigation of Mr. Bridger. Mr. Liebaers argued that most of the records requested have nothing to do with the investigation now involving Mr. Bridger.
In his Feb. 15 order to release the documents, Mr. Liebaers also indicated that the probe regarding Mr. Bridger was widening.
According to statements from the Information Commissioner’s Office contained in publicly available documents, the police investigation “involved seven different criminal allegations.” Mr. Liebaers said he and an aide were not given full and unfettered access to the police investigative records as part of the review of the open records request because an investigation team that had just been appointed “would need the files,” Mr. Liebaers reported.
Mr. Liebaers said his office was not informed of the officers’ need for those files until August 2015, about two years after the investigation of Mr. Bridger began.
In court records filed in late 2014, former Cayman Islands Crown counsel Doug Schofield stated in an affidavit that there were then four offenses being investigated.
The affidavit states: “[Commissioner of Police David] Baines has authorized me to advise the court that Bridger is currently being investigated for the following offences (1) misconduct in a public office, contrary to common law, (2) providing false information to a public officer … (3) willfully misleading a police officer … (4) making a false report to a police officer …. I personally assisted the commissioner of police in the preparation of a file for preliminary review by Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards and I was present at the DPP’s office on Nov. 28, 2014 when the commissioner delivered that file directly into her hands.”
Mr. Bridger has said a number of times that he expected to be interviewed by the police in relation to the matter. However, he said he was uncertain of his ability to defend himself against the RCIPS probe, given that certain material records from the Operation Tempura case were taken away from him as a result of various court actions in Cayman and the U.K. over the past few years.
“For 30 months, Baines has been investigating me,” Mr. Bridger said in February.
“Recently, he informed me he is almost ready to interview me, but he is still waiting to receive some documents. On the face of it, this seems to be an exorbitant length of time to complete the investigation.”