Bridger set to depart Cayman

| 11/03/2009

(CNS): Martin Bridger, the Senior Investigating Officer of the Special Police Investigation Team, will be leaving Cayman at the end of April. No reason has been given for his departure but Acting Police Commissioner James Smith has issued a statement saying that Bridger will lead Operation Tempura to its conclusion and a new SIO will oversee Operation Cealt – the second phase of the special investigations. The APC also said that Cabinet had approved almost $1 million more in funding.

Smith said in his statement that he had met with Cabinet on Tuesday, 10 March, and updated them on the special police investigations, Operation Tempura and Operation Cealt. Despite the elected governments continued and persistent public concerns regarding how SPIT has conducted the investigations, Smith claimed they had been “very supportive of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) and will continue to fund the two investigations.”

Smith also said he had asked Cabinet for almost CI$ 915,810  to continue SPIT’s work and it was approved. CNS continues to try and reach members of Cabinet to confirm if indeed they have made a u-turn on their position regarding the financing of the investigations.

Meanwhile, Smith stated that Operation Tempura’s active investigations were now primarily focused on preparing for upcoming trials. He said Bridger would continue to work on it until the end of April to ensure continuity of the process and facilitate a handover.   

He did not say if or when Stuart Kernohan would be interviewed or if Chief Superintendent John Jones, who has remained suspended from office on full pay for the last 12 months, would be returned to post or charged with any offence.

Smith said an initial report had been completed and passed to him by SIO Bridger, who he said would also hand over the preparatory work that he has done on these investigations to his deputy senior investigating officer, who will lead Operation Tempura to its conclusion, and to a new SIO who would oversee Operation Cealt. However, Smith did not state who would take over from Bridger.

“SIO Bridger’s departure does not mean that these investigations are over,” said Smith. “The investigations are not just about one person.  This decision is the result of discussions with Mr Bridger over several weeks, and is supported by both HE the Governor, Mr Stuart Jack, CVO and Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates. I would like to publicly thank Mr Bridger for his professionalism and for the work that he has done on Operation Tempura and the work he started on Operation Cealt.  After 35 years as a police officer, I know how difficult anti-corruption investigations can be.”

No mention was made of Bridger’s culpability in the recently concluded case regarding the unlawful arrest of Justice Alex Henderson or the latest legal action by Burman Scott, who was also allegedly unlawfully arrested by one of Bridger’s SPIT members.

Smith turned his attention to the second phase of the investigation, which is based on alleged reports from the community regarding potential corruption within the ranks of the RCIPS.

“Over the past few weeks, I have been reviewing each of the statements made by members of the community on alleged incidents of police corruption.  Today, I advised Cabinet that I wished to investigate certain of these allegations as a priority,” Smith stated.

He said that he and the Special Investigation Advisory Group (SAIG), which includes Deputy Chief Secretary Donovan Ebanks, Strategic Advisor Peter Gough and Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson, have also advised Cabinet on the importance of creating an environment which makes it extremely difficult for corruption to occur in the first place.

“The initial report that I received in January identified a number of systems in need of improvement,” Smith said. “We need to look at our vetting procedure when we recruit police officers.   We also need to look atthe way we access information and intelligence because it is imperative that we be able to ensure the public confidentiality when they give us information essential for our work.”

He said this would cost money and he was aware that the economic situation means that Cabinet must look very carefully at any requests for funding. Cabinet, he said, had approved CI $915,810 to continue the work of Operation Tempura up to the end of the current fiscal year and to take forward priority actions on Operation Cealt.

“This is a considerable sum, but these investigations are an investment in the future of the RCIPS. I want to see a community with full confidence in its police service. Over the past few weeks, along with my colleagues in the Advisory Group, I have looked very carefully to see where we can make cuts in spending that reflect the current economic circumstances and have examined staffing matters very carefully,” Smith said.

“As head of the RCIPS, I can assure the public that I will consider all the allegations that have been made.  Some are particularly serious, and must be investigated so that we can establish the truth – and either bring criminal charges in appropriate cases, or end the suspicions against the innocent.”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    He has already done so much incredible damage, it is almost too late!  Seems he’s getting off rather easy!  I think he should be sued and have to pay for all the damage he is has done in this Country!

    • Anonymous says:

      My money is on Scott nailing him!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Total bull! This man has serious information about the way we do police business here. God help us if he spills the nasty beans when he is sent back in disgrace from Cayman. Or when he comes back to talk about Levers et al. Oops-did I just "scandalise the Judiciary" CNS? We live in fear.

  2. Only a Caymanian says:


  3. Anonymous says:

    Hooooooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!  Not a moment too soon and about 50 days too late.

  4. Lorna Bush says:

    "No reason has been given for his departure but Acting Police Commissioner James Smith has issued a statement saying that Bridger will lead Operation Tempura to its conclusion.." 

    Personally, I think there’s plenty of reason; under normal circumstances anyone who ‘messed up’ so often and cost taxpayers so much, in terms of compensations for those that were mishandled, etc. would have been long gone.  In my opinion, he is an embarrassment to his profession and a serious liability to the Cayman Islands and its people.

    • Anonymous says:

      I will guarantee there are alot more reasons for him to go than for him to stay to spend ANOTHER MILLION DOLLARS of our money on a  record breaking fishing trip.