UK’s leading tabloid tells story of SPIT

| 24/05/2009

(CNS): One of the UK’s biggest selling tabloids has picked up the story of the excessive cost of the Special Police Investigation here in the Cayman Islands and the departure of the team’s former SIO Martin Bridger. The Daily Mail is well known for its scandal stories and exposés. However, on this occasion there are no revelations or new information about the investigation. The story merely covers the surface of the issue and details that were already widely known in this jurisdiction. Nevertheless the story paints an unfortunate picture of Cayman at a time when serious attempts are being made to improve the overseas image.

Written by Stephen Wright, who has renamed SPIT the ‘Sunshine Squad’, he gives a very broad outline of the events here since the arrival of SPIT in September 2007 to the recent closure of the criminal investigation against former Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and Chief Superintendent John Jones, as well as an estimate of the costs so far of Operation Tempura.

However, CNS can reveal that CS Jones who is currently recuperating from a surgical procedure will be returning to his post in the senior ranks of the RCIPS’ shortly.  

The story can be found at here.

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Comments (15)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    "…but dont lose site of the fact that individuals in prominent public service positions have been charged as a result. Its all well and good to blame Kernohan / the governor and Bridger for everything. Bottom line though is they were investigating corruption at the highest level, it would seem that because those charged happen to be Caymanians this fact is ignored."

    I hear you, but remember that investigations and charges don’t mean a thing.  Lots of innocent people seem to have been misguidedly investigated or charged in this affair.  Finding and convicting someone who’s guilty of something, now that would be progress.  For all of the crime these investigators have successfully brought to justice (meaning a conviction), they may as well have been on the beach.  The trail of destruction was the price for what?

  2. Expat 567 says:

    "Only after the Strategic Oversight Group could not identify a local lawyer to replace the initial legal counsel, did Mr Bridger recommend Mr Polaine, who was subsequently approved by the Attorney General."

    An acknowledgement: I do not accept that the AG approved of retaining Polaine to advise on Cayman law simply because Net News said so.  On the other hand, if that indeed is what happened then the AG’s office would bear some criticism for approving an unqualified advisor for use by SPIT. I also have difficulty with the premise that the SOG could not identify a local lawyer to replace Andre Mon Desir.  This island has a very high population of extremely talented lawyers, a great many of whom could have well filled that role.

    Not that this changes the fact that the actual problem (the wrongful arrest of an innocent judge) was caused by wrong advice from a UK "advisor" who was not qualified to give it, and who negligently did not review the law of the jurisdiction that he purported to advise on, which advice was requested and received by an investigator himself lacking respect for the laws of the Cayman Islands. 

    Side note: If Polaine was a proper Cayman attorney, he would have had professional liability insurance to cover any claims for negligence instead of spending the Cayman Treasury.  Oh wait: if he was a proper Cayman attorney he would presumably have given correct advice for this jurisdiction in the first place… Hmmmm…

  3. Anonymous says:

     It appears that things went seriously wrong after the local lawyer left.  Maybe there’s a connection.

  4. Expat 567 says:

    "Notwithstanding the judgement as outlined in the previous post, concerning Mr Polaine’s advice to Mr Bridger’s team, please explain, with all of the examples set out above, at exactly what point do you conclude that LOCAL legal advice was NOT sought?"

    This is an ill-considered criticism based upon wrong "facts":

    1. I do not accept the Net News as an authority worthy of quoting;

    2. IN ANY EVENT, the facts stated are wrong.  Bridger deliberately failed to take local advice on the only point under discussion: whether or not to arrest the judge;

    3. The email to the AG where Poulaine tries to explain himself is CLEARLY written after the mistake has been made (shame you didn’t realize that – a little research goes a long way); and

    4. The Ruling of Sir Peter Creswell clearly demonstrates that Bridger was then operating under a pattern of evading local involvement.  He did not reveal the contrary rulings of the Chief Justice.  Prior to the arrest, the Chief Justice, the AG and Andre Mon Desir had considered and agreed that no oral interview of this judge was appropriate.  Bridger did not accept this and arrested the judge to get around this "problem". 

    Hmmmm… that would mean that the local lawyers were advising against arresting the judge… right?

    Research… a wonderful thing…

    To answer your question: Local advice was not sought AT THE VERY POINT WHERE THE ERROR OCCURED.  I hope that helps.

     

     

  5. Anonymous says:

    Expat 567,

    To quote from the Cayman Net News article dated 31st December 2008 "Bridger relied on Attorney General", it states:

    Contrary to much local speculation and comment, documents disclosed in court last week revealed that Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger and his team of Metropolitan Police officers deferred at every step in the ongoing corruption investigation within the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) to advice received from the Attorney General.

    According to a statement issued last week, when Mr Bridger arrived in the Cayman islands in November 2007, having been called in to take over the investigation into what were subsequently proven to be false allegations of a conspiracy between Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis and Cayman Net News publisher Desmond Seales, which had earlier led to an unauthorised entry and search of the Cayman Net News office, he asked the Attorney General, Hon Sam Bulgin, how the issue of local legal advice to Mr Bridger and his team would be handled.

    At first, the Attorney General agreed to appoint both a criminal and a civil attorney in his chambers to work with the investigating team. However, the Attorney General subsequently reversed this position and instead told Mr Bridger that he should instruct independent counsel locally.

    Local attorney-at-law Andre Mon Desir was accordingly appointed as independent legal counsel to the investigating team and acted in this capacity from November 2007 until the summer of 2008, when he returned to his native Trinidad and Tobago.

    The role of the local counsel was to provide independent advice in relation to the investigation as it unfolded and, once a prima facie case was established, then respective file would be submitted to the Attorney General for review and a decision to be made as to prosecution.

    Thus, in the case of former Net News reporter Lyndon Martin and Deputy Commissioner of Police Rudolph Dixon, both of whom were investigated by Mr Bridger and his team and subsequently charged with a number of offences, this is the procedure that was followed.

    When Mr Mon Desir left the Cayman Islands in the summer of 2008, Mr Bridger reportedly approached the Strategic Oversight Group responsible for local oversight of his still ongoing investigation for guidance as to a local replacement for Mr Mon Desir.

    When the Strategic Oversight Group could not identify a suitable local attorney to act as replacement independent counsel, Mr Bridger recommended Martin Polaine, a lawyer in the UK with whom he had worked before.

    According to the website of Mr Polaine’s firm, Amicus Legal Consultants Ltd, he was previously engaged as a full-time consultant with the Legal & Constitutional Affairs Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat focusing on technical assistance and capacity building in the areas of anti-corruption/asset recovery, international co-operation and counter-terrorism.

    In addition, he has practiced as both defence and prosecution counsel in fraud and corruption cases, and had conduct of a number of high profile corruption and other ‘transnational’ cases.
    Mr Polaine is also the author, with three others, of “Corruption & Misuse of Public Office”.

    Mr Polaine’s resume was accordingly submitted to the Attorney General, who agreed to his appointment as independent counsel to the investigating team.

    In relation to the arrest of Grand Court judge Alexander Henderson in suspicion of misconduct in public office, which was before the court last week for judicial review of the lawfulness of such arrest, Mr Bridger reportedly referred the evidence against Judge Henderson to Mr Polaine and asked three questions: did Mr Polaine believe it amounted to misconduct in public office; is such misconduct an offence in the Cayman Islands; and, if so, is such misconduct an arrestable offence in the Cayman Islands.

    According to an email sent by Mr Polaine to Solicitor General Cheryll Richards, and read in court last week, Mr Polaine’s answer to each of these questions was in the affirmative.

    In his email, Mr Polaine said: “I advised Martin Bridger that the offence of misconduct in a public office was an arrestable offence. In so advising, I knew Mr Bridger was relying on my advice. I did not suggest to him that he should confirm my advice by consulting a local lawyer. At the time I advised Mr Bridger, he had not as far as I am aware formed any view of his own as to whether the offence was arrestable. As I have indicated, he looked to me for that information.

    “At the time of the first judicial review, I remained of the view that the offence was arrestable. Although no other lawyer on the legal team was formally asked to advise on the point, two (both from the UK rather than Cayman) expressed concurring views, albeit informally.

    “I have previously set out my reasoning in concluding that the offence is arrestable. I am content for that reasoning to be referred to for the purposes of the present hearing. I am also content for this email to be used by Martin Bridger in those proceedings for the purposes of demonstrating inter alia his good faith.”

    The Attorney General has now taken a contrary view to Mr Polaine, that the offence of misconduct in public office is not an arrestable one in the Cayman Islands. According to remarks made by Assistant Solicitor General Douglas Schofield in court last week, the contradictory interpretations turn on just three words in the law.

    When contacted by Cayman Net News, Mr Bridger said, “I have no comment at this time while the issue is still before the court.”

    So, if the above article is factually correct, we can conclude:

    1) The Attorney General’s advice was sought from the beginning.

    2) Any file, relating to a decision for prosecution, would have to pass scrutiny by the Attorney General.

    3) Only after the Strategic Oversight Group could not identify a local lawyer to replace the initial legal counsel, did Mr Bridger recommend Mr Polaine, who was subsequently approved by the Attorney General.

    4) If Mr Polaine’s qualifications or suitability to act in his capacity to advise in the investigation was inappropriate, where does the ultimate blame lie for his engagement? Oh yes, with the Attorney General.

    5) Local counsel was engaged in the initial stages of the investigation of others; only after the Henderson matter did the Attorney General publicly change his mind about the arrestability of the offence. No mention has been made regarding this unexplained example of double standards. Where was this decision, in the earlier cases?

    Notwithstanding the judgement as outlined in the previous post, concerning Mr Polaine’s advice to Mr Bridger’s team, please explain, with all of the examples set out above, at exactly what point do you conclude that LOCAL legal advice was NOT sought?

    Shame. A little research goes a long way.

  6. Expat 567 says:

    I have to add more, including Martin Polaine’s comments:

    "“If, as others have now concluded, the advice was wrong, then the blame for it does indeed rest with me,” said Polaine"

    Followed by the findings of the Judge, Sir Peter Creswell :

    "In Henderson’s second Judicial Review, Sir Peter Creswell made it quite clear that he considered Bridger’s legal advice to be inadequate and suggested that seeking advice from an expert in British law regarding Misconduct in a Public Office in the Cayman Islands was a failure on the part of Bridger and his team. He suggested that arresting anyone for an offence that was not an arrestable offence was a fundamental policing error."

    And finally:

    "Polaine came under the spotlight when, during the first judicial review, his legal status in the Cayman Islands was questioned by Henderson’s legal team. They revealed that Polaine had not been called to Cayman Islands bar even though he was in the court room and clearly offering  advice to the legal team representing SPIT during the hearing."

    So to recap: an incompetent UK police officer took bad advice from an incompetent (unlicenced and un-admitted) UK lawyer, leading to the wrongful arrest of an innocent and greatly respected judge in the Cayman Islands, further leading to significant financial loss to the Islands as well as causing a very bad public relations disaster. 

    Hmmm… that’s the fault of the Cayman Islanders how???

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree the whole way Tempura has been handled has been a complete fiasco. However people have lost sight of the reason for the investigation in the first place.

      Allegations were brought to the attention of the C.O.P Kernohan about the possible leaking of highly sensitive information to the press. Kernohan went to the Governor and requested permission to have an outside team of investigators brought in to investigate the claims.

      Mr Ennis and Seales were cleared and charges brought against the individual making the false accusations (who the people of the Cayman Islands recently narrowly avoided voting in as an MLA – work that one out).

      Bridger and his team cleared Ennis etc, brought charges against Mr Martin and uncovered allegations against r Dixon which have also resulted in charges for serious offences.

      The only thing that Kernohan and Jones were ever accused of was arranging an employee of the net news to go into his bosses office to uncover evidence. The AG concluded this was no crime as it was in the public interest – it would appear that they were simply investigating the allegations and no law was broken.

      The legal advice the Tempura team got was obviously seriously flawed and theres no excuse for that, but dont lose site of the fact that individuals in prominent public service positions have been charged as a result. Its all well and good to blame Kernohan / the governor and Bridger for everything. Bottom line though is they were investigating corruption at the highest level, it would seem that because those charged happen to be Caymanians this fact is ignored.

  7. Expat 567 says:

    "The SPIT investigation has been let down by bad PR and questionable LOCAL legal advice (although everyone has lost sight of whether a certain Judge actually did anything wrong or not) how on earth can misconduct in a public office not be arrestable – ridiculous!

    This expat has already handed in his notice and cant wait to go."

    WRONG!  The advice was NOT given by a local lawyer.  Recall the advice the AG’s office gave to the Court at Judge Henderson’s hearing: "Schofield told the judge that the legal advice on the information had actually come from Martin Polaine the legal adviser from the UK who was not familiar with Cayman Islands law and who had also given Bridger the advice for which Henderson’s arrest was based."

    Martin Polaine, below, is a UK based "legal advisor" with Amicus Legal Consulting. 

    See their web site at http://www.amicus-legal-consultants.org/about-amicus-legal-consultants.htm.

    It is not even clear that Martin Polaine is currently authorized to practice in the UK.  He is certainly NOT qualifed to advise on Cayman law.

    Oh, and Judge Henderson was found to be completely innocent, in case you missed that part of the report.

    So:

    1. Don’t lay this at travesty the feet of the local talent, and 

    2. Gave your notice you say?  Off you go… 

    Bye…

     

  8. Anonymous says:

    Ironic, how Jones and Kernohan, completely exonerated of all accusations against them, are continually viewed as guilty due to their nationality judging by the many ignorant comments posted here and on other sites. You also have local ex-Officers (Mr Ebanks et al), seemingly determined to pin the mess on the UK and all those Officers who come over – by invite from the RCIP, on the premise of helping them to sort out corruption from within. Face facts, Cayman. Your mess was not caused by those of us from overseas.

    You are reaping what you have sown for years and the fact is it will continue whilst you continue with this "them and us" attitude towards the rest of the world.

    Let’s put this into perspective:

    • One tabloid newspaper (yes that’s right not a serious paper but a rag with a reputation for gutter journalism) ran the story for a day as a sub sub byline, as part of a current campaign to highlight gratuitous expenditure by politicians and public figures. It generated no interest whatsoever, judging by the small number of comments posted before it was pulled from the website after only one day.
    • Interesting that the fact that the Police team followed senior, LOCAL legal advice, re: action taken against Judge Henderson, was given only a small mention. Smell a dirty tricks campaign, anyone? Didn’t think so…

    It is a shame that the only reporting that goes on re: the Cayman Islands panders to the lowest common denominator and conveniently leaves out the majority of the true story…

    If you ever did get a true, thorough investigation into all that goes on, you would have to build more than one new prison to house everyone you would expose. But, you needn’t worry about that. The cover up system is alive and well and will continue to function whilst it is backed up by bigotry and ignorance.

    Lets not forget that senior caymanian officers past and present have also been thouroughly investigated for their widely known wrong doings.  Oh and by the way…why should the UK pick up the tab for an investigation concerning corruption in the Cayman Islands? By your own admission, your own local Police are unable to effectively investigate what goes on, because they may be investigating their own brother, cousin, sister, aunt, whoever.

    That is why you have Officers brought in from overseas. It is not for the British taxpayer to fund investigations into corruption in the Cayman Islands, just because you do not get the result you want ie: find the locals innocent and the foreigners guilty.

    Pay your own bills to sort out your own dirty washing!

    If, as comments previously posted by numerous persons indicate, no overseas workers are welcome, then I heartily recommend that ALL ex-pats, from ALL nations, hand in your 3 months notice (so with all the time due that you can never take in the RCIP, means you can leave today) and leave them to it…lets see how quickly the country deteriorates when we leave.

    Perhaps you can bury more files in mount trashmore. Don’t forget to stick your applications for hurricane recovery funds from the UK in there as well. If you hate the UK so much, don’t be so hypocritical as to demand taxpayers in the UK should give you money. You already get UK passports and the accompanying priviledges without any trouble whatsoever, whereas what does someone from the UK get from the Cayman Islands? A get out of town notice, after seven years…

    Oh, so many things to say. Wasted efforts though, as you’ll never change.

    Just hurry up and vote for independence…the UK wont miss you at all.

    Get a grip, grow up and stop talking rubbish.

    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent post and couldnt have put it better myself.

      The "blame it on the foreigner" mentality here makes me sick. How many people have been charged as a result of SPIT and what nationality is he?

      The SPIT investigation has been let down by bad PR and questionable LOCAL legal advice (although everyone has lost sight of whether a certain Judge actually did anything wrong or not) how on earth can misconduct in a public office not be arrestable – ridiculous!

      This expat has already handed in his notice and cant wait to go.

      If you hate the "mother country" as much as you say then vote for independance! The UK wont stop you.

      Oh right – but if you did that then who would you blame for everything???

    • anonymous says:

      Just how much money does Cayman funnel into the UK.  We spent a lot there on our Government offices and employees.  We also sent 1/2 million dollars/pounds when back in the 80s when England was fighting for the Falklands, someone local came up with the idea that "Mother needs our help".  People were willing to donate then but oh! we did get a visit from Her Majesty afterwards and the boys are always popping in. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Your attitude justifies the attitude that born Caymanians have towards SOME Ex-pats. I am an Ex-Pat with status that I worked for and Naturalisation that I also worked for. I decided to make Cayman my home not treat it as the majority of ex-pats do, a place to make as much money to send "home" as possible without contributing a thing to the society here. And before you question it I was born in England of a family that can trace it English history back to before Cromwell…can you do the same?

      I read constantly of the complaints by the British public about foreigners living in the UK and milking it for all they can get…sound familiar.

      Of course the Caymanian public have a right to be upset by the cost of an ill managed amateurish investigation led by and advised by officials who did not even know the local laws. The whole investigation was a "fishing trip" in more ways than one undertaken at Caymans expense. It was dragged out for a



      dispraportionate period of time possibly because the people involved enjoyed living here so much, who knows?

      There are sufficient ex-pats (with probably better abilities) who want to work in Cayman and will be happy here, that we can do without your type.

      I am proud to be both English by birth and Caymanian by adoption.

       

       

       

       

       

       

  9. Rita says:

    You darn skippy we need answers, this must be a joke!  You best believe we as Caymanians want answers, get rid of them all and start over. 

  10. Anonymous says:

    Why is it a joke?  Despite Bridger doing his best to eek out his 200 K a year salary to try to find something against Jones he failed to do so – why ?  because he hadn’t done anything.  And so it right that he should take up his post again.  Who are you to write that it is a joke – what is it that you think he has done and why don’t you want him to return?  Are you someone who is ignorant and believes that he is convicted by rumour and innuendo in the press? 

  11. Anonymous says:

    Cayman Islands is this a joke…CS Jones who is currently recuperating from a surgical procedure will be returning to his post in the senior ranks of the RCIPS’ shortly? WHAT??

    The next thing we will hear is that Commissioner Stuart Kernohan is returning too?

    Can someone of some authority please answer these questions for the citizens of the Cayman Islands?