Bridger goes on defensive

| 09/10/2008

(CNS): Condemning all those involved in the investigation for speaking through the media and the Chief Justice for releasing his ruling, Martin Bridger, the Senior Investigating Officer of the special investigation into alleged corruption in the police, has defended that investigation and declared that he will begin a series of public meetings to speak directly to the people.

In a written statement to the media this evening, Thursday, 9 October, Bridger said he was disappointed by those who have spoken through the media about the investigation.

“This could be prejudicial to the investigation and the individuals involved,” he said. Although the Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s ruling made public last week sets out the details of Bridger’s investigation and states that he could see no evidence of any crimes, the former Scotland Yard officer still insisted that the investigation has merit. He said he was not prejudging the guilt or innocence of any individual involved and he had tried to be transparent.

“The nature of the media coverage of last week causes me particular concern.  For me to comment on recent developments would be unfair to those under investigation. I am very keen not to become involved in debating the issues through the media,” he said adding that it was careless speculation in the absence of the facts that would damage the long term reputation of the Cayman Islands, “not those who have the courage and fortitude to address suspected wrongdoing when it is identified.”

Given the circumstances surrounding Alex Henderson’s arrest, Bridger insisted it was not based on his refusal to give a statement. He said the decision was made in consultation with legal counsel and Assistant Commissioner John Yates of the Metropolitan Police Service. He said despite the challenges to the legality of the search warrants he was satisfied that these were properly obtained.

Bridger defended his request for the search warrants for the various parties involved in the entire case which Smeliie had referred to as a “fishing expedition”, stating that there was no need to present a full case to acquire a warrant but that it was sought in order to gather evidence.

“No court can hope to make a meaningful evaluation of guilt or innocence or the strength or otherwise of a case at the time of such an application,” he said.  “It should be borne in mind that the threshold for granting a search warrant is reasonable suspicion, not a prima facie case, or a realistic prospect of conviction. “Let me repeat that a decision of whether a criminal offence has been committed cannot reasonably be based on the information supplied for the application of a search warrant.”

He also denied ignoring the Chief Justice but said it was inappropriate to discuss how matters unfolded after the warrants were refused but that his actions were documented. He insisted that Kernohan and Jones properly remain under investigation for misconduct in a public office.  “This is not the offence for which search warrants were applied for, and refused by the Honourable Chief Justice,” he said.

Admonishing the release of the ruling which sets outthe details of Bridger’s case against the two senior officers and is now in the public domain, Bridger directly accused Smellie.

“I am extremely concerned that a ruling made in a private hearing in chambers, following an ex parte application, appears to have found its way into the public domain,” he said. “I sought to establish how Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s rulings in connection with the search warrant application concerning Mr Kernohan and Mr Jones found their way into the public domain.  I have now been informed that the judgements concerning Mr Kernohan and Mr Jones were released the day after the arrest of Justice Henderson on the 24th September, i.e. released on the authority of the Chief Justice on the 25th September 2008.”

Bridger also, rather ironically, said that he felt the more informed the community was the better.

“To date, to a large extent, the community has heard from me only through the media,” he said. “As a consequence, the community’s views have, to a large extent, been informed by how the media has interpreted and reported my words. That is no longer acceptable.”

He said that stakeholders should hear directly from him so he would be holding public district meetings to keep the community informed. He also said from today onwards he would be issuing a media update every two weeks and will answer media questions presented in writing. 

“There are times when some information simply cannot be shared without prejudging certain outcomes, or jeopardizing aspects of the investigation….I assure you that I will update you with as much information as I can, and will answer your questions and concerns.  I want to meet with you and encourage you to invite me to attend your community, association, or congregational event so that you can learn the facts directly from the investigative team,” he said.

He ended by saying the investigation was complex and why it had taken time and required the cooperation of the community. Despite earlier declarations however that he was not being impeded in his investigation, he said that co-operation is something he had not always received. 

Bridger invited any community group that wishes to meet him to contact the team on 943-8901.

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Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Bridger will be going after the Chief Justice next, as punishment for releasing his ruling of 4 April 2008.

    Seems more and more that Martin’s false allegation of a police leak was used as an excuse for the Governor to set up his own police force to take on an unlimited number of ‘investigations’ at great expense to the Cayman Islands, both in money – and worse, in its reputation – as a stable financial business center.

    Bridger has very little to show for all the stress, strain and expense he has cost the Cayman people, and clearly has no signs of being reigned in – because no one seems to know who this ‘frankenstein’ actually answers to! Is it the Governor or Yates in the UK Met Police?

    When the CJ refused to give Bridger search warrants, Bridger then went to a justice of the peace to get warrants for more frivilous reasons. What would the search warrant of Henderson’s house find exactly -? probably just needed something else to keep this farce going.

    Bridger claims to be investigating police and judges for not following the rules of law- but Bridger himself circumvented the courts to get dodgy search warrants from a justice of the peace rather than a magistrate or the courts AS IS SUPPOSED TO BE.

    If Bridger runs out of shadows to chase, he can always investigate himself. He’s already chasing his own tail anyhow. HE Governor should be ashamed at draining this country’s finances and not have anything meaningful to show for it.

    • Anonymous says:

      We may need an investigation of the conduct of the investigation and all those involved from top to bottom – this time at the expense of the UK Govt!

  2. john says:

    I find it very amusing that some folks in our justice system is doing what they have punish others in the past for. It is true what comes around goes around. Desperation seems like a option alot of folks are taking these days. The questions still remain unanswered, Why was a sitting judge trying to find out who was writing letters in the Newspaper and what was he going to do when he investigated and uncovered the name or names. Laws being drafted to punish people who dare criticise the judiciary sounds very communist and draconian its the peoples right to speak out and seek redress when they have been wronged or treated unjustly. The same right they are exercising now in the courts It appears to many that some people want to run this place like the Secret societies that many belong to. Cayman do not let these people decieve and railroad you stand up and protect our rights.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is what happens when politicians, the media and the public push and press public servants on sensitive matters.  I distinctly recall that everybody supported the independent investigations. There has been an onslaught of callers to radio talk shows making all sorts of demands against Kernahan etc. and why the investigation is taking so long. Now we see that the rulings against certain applications.  This shows how the justice system should work – peoples lives are stake and they must be assumed innocent until proven otherwise. That system is why you have an investigator (police) you have the prosecuters (Lawyers/legal counsel) and you have the judiciary (judges ) to make the final determination. These three critical entities have to be independent of one another.

    What I want to know is how does giving the politicians control over the indiependent investigation  somehow going to improve the situation. If you think it is bad now  – wait until that happens.

    What i am also concerned with is the mushrooming and wideneing scope of the investigation. The Met team should concenterate on wrapping up what they originally came here for and leave.  And soon.

     

  4. Derek Haines says:

     

    Sir,

    The revelations in the Compass (Friday 3rd October) have been met with a mixture of astonishment and anger by many.

    Astonishment that the Commissioner and a Chief Superintendent have been kept on required leave, despite the Chief Justice finding that they had not acted criminally, and anger that the chief investigator appears to have been contemptuous to the judiciary when obtaining a search warrant from a JP; after twice being refused one when applying to the Chief Justice in what appears to be very similar circumstances.

    Add to that the cost both financial and to the reputation of the islands and we have a very unpleasant brew.

    The financial cost we have to live with but we can be positive and ensure that our reputation is enhanced as a result.

    Consider that a team of experienced and independent Scotland Yard detectives have been in Cayman for over a year, probing, sniffing, fishing and conducting covert investigations at a cost that runs into millions of dollars and have come up with the square route of not much more than nothing!!

    This proves that there is no deep seated or syndicated corruption and that our police service and judicial system are as fair, honest and strong as we have always maintained.

    So, members of our government, may I suggest we use this to our advantage through marketing and so ensure the money spent, thus far, is not wasted.

    And, members of the RCIP, you have taken a few body blows on this but can take heart that your position as the best law enforcement body in the region is still intact.

    Yours faithfully,

    Derek Haines, QPM, CPM.

  5. Anonymous says:

    He’s going to hold a series of public meetings in the districts?

    What is he running for MLA now?

    the allegations agaainst Kernohan and Jones seem pretty minor, certainly not something requiring 9 detectives and $2million to investigate. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    Looks like panic setting it.

    “This could be prejudicial to the investigation and the individuals involved,” he said. – Sounds very like a threat to me and when the police (or in this case the ‘Governor’s Special Investigator’ pretending he’s still a police officer) start making threats we all better start worrying.

    Why didn’t he hold one of the customary press conferences? Afraid of what the media might ask? And why does he want media questions in writing if there’s nothing to hide?

    If I was Bridger and his team I’d be getting the warm clothing ready. It’s pretty chilly in the UK right now!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Mr Bridger seems confused. Could it be that he that he was to assist the Cuban police but came to Cayman by mistake? His tactics would perhaps fit more with what is done 200 miles north of Cayman. He is becoming a real bore . How long is this going to last? Until we are good little children and follow everything from the mother country? Or is this to drive us to demand  independence? He and his masters need to respect Mr. Smeliie and the law. Most of the "crimes" that he has uncovered appear thus far seem  very minor to the point of being almost frivolous. With the condition of the world economy surely these millions of dollars could be better spent.