Taylor files FOI legal appeal

| 08/01/2013

Gov Taylor addresses (223x300).jpg(CNS): In an ironic twist, the Governor’s Office has become the first public authority to turn to the courts in an effort to overturn a decision by the Cayman Islands Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and prevent the release of documents into the public domain. Governor Duncan Taylor has filed an appeal for judicial review to reverse a decision by the commisssioner, Jennifer Dilbert, that his office should release a report regarding a complaint made by the former UK cop who headed up the controversial police corruption investigation, Operation Tempura. Dilbert has completed 26 hearings since the law came into force some three years ago but no one has previously challenged any of her decisions in the courts.

In this first appeal to the courts for judicial review, the governor, in an attempt to keep information secret, is requesting a hearing in order to quash Dilbert’s 24th decision, in which she concludes that the report be released. Claiming the commissioner has erred in law in the grounds he presented, Governor Taylor says she jumped to irrelevant and unjustified conclusions about an area of ambiguity in the local freedom of information law and was mistaken with regard to other elements of the legislation which she applied in her decision.

The legal document, which was filed at the eleventh hour following the 45 days the office had to release the documents in connection with the results of Dilbert’s hearing, the governor claims that the commissioner misinterpreted the law regarding potentially defamatory material, which the UK’s representative has claimed as one of the reasons for withholding the document.

The report, which was requested by John Evans, a former reporter with Cayman Net News, which was at the heart of the Operation Tempura investigation, centres on complaints made by Martin Bridger, who headed up the costly controversial investigation. He accused the authorities of cutting short his corruption probe, pointing the finger at the role played by the powers that be and in particular members of the judiciary. The complaint by Bridger was dismissed by the governor and the report requested by Evans outlines the reasons why.

Bridger was given a copy of the report but only on the basis that he kept the document secret, a position that Bridger has maintained, despite wanting the report released. Speaking to CNS Monday, he stated categorically that he would be doing what he could to join the legal action as an interested party defending the commissioner’s decision as he believes the document should be in the public domain.

Aside from attacking Dilbert’s findings regarding the defamatory issues, the governor has also strongly disputed her decision regarding the position of the Governor 's Office that the release of the documents would impact the effective conduct of public affairs. Dilbert found the report would not be damaging, while the governor said she had not considered the need to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the “sensitivity of dealing with complaints against the judiciary”.

It is not yet clear if it will be a judge who grants the judicial review, which is very likely, when the hearing will take place and more importantly if the case would be public given the content of the material that is in dispute. Questions also remain, as a result of the subject matter relating heavily to the local judiciary, as to which judge could hear the case without appearing to be conflicted.

Since Bridger was ejected from Cayman, which he has persistently claimed was before his investigation was complete, the fallout from the internal police and judicial probe has continued to rack up costs for the public purse as the authorities, and in particular the Governor’s Office and the FCO, continue to fight to keep as much of the detail of the discredited enquiry under wraps as possible.

Many questions about the investigation remain unanswered, despite a bill that is now estimated to exceed some $8 million but failed to deliver a singleconviction for corruption.
The fact that Bridger was believed to have his sights not just on Justice Alex Henderson, who was found to have been unlawfully arrested and awarded damages of over $1.2 million following a judicial review, but the chief justice as well has made the investigation particularly sensitive and controversial.

Despite the findings of the senior judiciary over Bridger’s actions, he has always insisted he acted lawfully throughout the investigation based on advice given to him by local legal advisors employed by the Governor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Chambers, as well as that given by Martin Polaine, an independent lawyer and business associate of Bridger who was eventually struck off as an attorney after he was found to have advised the senior former Scotland Yard cop in Cayman despite not being qualified to practice local law.

Many questions about Operation Tempura remain, as do a number of on-going legal cases, including that of former senior police officer Burman Scott, who was arrested under the same conditions as Justice Henderson and is believed to have been offered a compensation payment.

Questions regarding that issue by CNS to the RCIPS remain unanswered. The former deputy commissioner, Rudy Dixon, who was also arrested and charged under the same offence, which was found to be unlawful in the case of Henderson, was eventually tried and found not guilty by a jury and later given a payoff to depart the RCIPS.

Meanwhile, Stuart Kernohan, the police commissioner at the time of Operation Tempura, continues to pursue a wrongful dismissal claim against the Cayman government over the way he was treated after his suspension from duty because of his association with an alleged unlawful entry into the Net News offices.

Kernohan was suspended over a decision he made to allow employees of the newspaper, including Evans, to hunt for evidence of alleged corruption between the owner, the late Desmond Seales, and Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis, even though the former top cop had revealed the plans to both the governor at the time, Stuart Jack, and the regional security advisor, Larry Covington.

Although those corruption claims were dismissed very early in the Tempura investigation, Bridger continued to probe and claimed to have discovered other corruption issues relating to the police and the judiciary. While some officers are believed to have resigned or been dismissed as a result of that probe, no details, with the exception of the failed case against Dixon, have ever been revealed to the public, despite the fact that the Cayman tax payer has footed the bill for the entire fiasco. 

The release of the documents currently in question and the continued legal fights that the attorney general is pursuing against Bridger to prevent him using other documents in his own legal battles are believed to boil down to an FCO’s desire to avoid embarrassment about the bungled investigation.

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Category: FOI

Comments (56)

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  1. John Evans says:

    CNS Note: yes he was and yes he did…..

    Wendy, he may have been when you were editor there but this is long after you left and at that time he was not on the mailing list.

  2. School Teacher says:

    Ha ha ha.. Jen.. . me thinks you stepped on the wrong toes my dear… I know you a long time. Just how are you going to win a transparency case against the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)?  It is not going to happen. They are closely tied and depended on the M16 group, the adjacent spy agencies and law enforcement sectors to maintain the vestiges of colonial rule they have in modern day. 

  3. SANDFLY says:

    Thanks for the praise I’m no lawyer or even well educated. I read the Sunday New York Times because it keeps me ahead of the news cycle for a week to ten days. I misspell a word here or there because I have dyslexia. You ask how the case against or worst Premier will go is real simple and in layman’s terms in my opinion? It is as follows:

    The Financial Crimes Unit is a group of super cops that have been watching big boy for some time. They have him so dead to rights that when they roll out the evidence; he is going to roll over like a little puppy. He may even beg for mercy. Just think of what he was about to do, let a contract to a company without permission from the UK and put Her Majesties subjects beholden to the same company for 99 years? That is unthinkable. The man was out of control. The Unit doesn’t play. When they come after you, you can’t hide, run or even lose yourself in the crowd. When the Unit picked him up at 7am like a gangster, I knew he was through. In the Maritime Trade we call it finished with engines and that is the case with the Worst Premier. I also believe he won’t even ask for a trial because it will break him financially. It could cost him millions and he still wouldn’t win. I’ll bet the crown prosecutors will make him confess his crimes for a deal. You may have heard him say that the ones he did the most for turned their backs on him. When that happened you know his Goose was cooked. Some people can’t see the forest for the trees, guys like Ellio, the Captain and Adams. They will all lose their seats for being on the wrong side of history. The book is about to close on a man that did so much to so many for so long and almost got away with it. Thank God for the Unit and God Save the Queen.       

  4. SANDFLY says:

    Commissioner Dilbert is Right


    Running with the fox or hunting with the Hounds is not going to work Governor. You’re going too far out on a limb to save face for an operation that went wrong. Best thing is to allow transparency and the rule of law to work and move on. People will only let go when you do.  The Commissioner is right on this one. I think you should watch our Financial Crimes Unit wrap the Elephant they recently bagged in a nice little package and everyone will be very happy with what shakes out. Tongues will be wagging for years. I just thought in America they will spend millions to hide government screw-ups. The Uk is to cultured to be penny wise and pound foolish.    


    • Anonymous says:

      I get the impression from the measured tone of your post, SANDFLY, that you are an Oxbridge educated partner at one of our major law firms. So could you set down quite simply and reader friendly for those of us who are not at your level the LEGAL arguments which will be advanced on both sides along with your assessment of how it might play out in court?

    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:


  5. Whodatis says:

    These entities prove my case every living day.

    Wake up Cayman.

  6. Alice in Wonderland says:

    How come the comments are not that much on an important issue such as this? oh boy i just figured it out,because it's not about poor ole McKeeva.

    • Anynmous says:

      Alice in wonderland, you figured it out right.  Just because it was poor ole McKeva.  Now everyone is confused because they had the FOI and the Governor in their arms only two months ago.  Now he is standing alone on west bay beach wondering why he took another year.   He should had left when his time was up and he would have escaped all of this.  But no, he had to wait tosee them hang McKeva in Town Square.

      I wonder if they have listened to McKeva Campaign song. Pick em up they lick him down but he is a hard man fe dead.  I cannot wait to listen to it again.

  7. Dennie Warren Jr. says:

    If the UK representative/Governor of the Cayman Islands was really interested in good governance, he would release this information, as ordered by the Information Commissioner.  I would strongly suggest the people of the Cayman Islands should become more concerned about who is policing the police.  Many people want to know what is contained in those documents that “may” jeopardize the relationship between the Cayman Islands and the UK.

    • YouKay says:

      Surely if the Governer is interested in good governance he would only release the information if it was ordered to be released in a manner which properly complies with the scope of the remit of the Commissioner, so the decision to judicially review the decision is consistent with a commitment to good governance.

      • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

        If the “remit of the Commissioner” was of any relevance I would agree you, but where an incompetency is known to more than one, it cannot be called a secret.  Shinny little objects don’t distract me; they inspire me to seek justice for all.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why is the Governor so desperate to prevent the public release of the findings of the Tempura  investigation?

    One has to wonder why he thinks this information is so dangerous for us. For us, or for some someone else?  

    He has already obtained an oath of secrecy from Bridger, his former chief investigator.

    • Anynmous says:

      07:42, Promises are made to be broken.  There is too much dirt in those papers not to reveal them.  Besides they are all lies on the Judicial department.   I believe this is going to be either the biginning or the end of England and Cayman.  She is either going to  have to work with us or shut up.  England had only been interested in Cayman a few years ago because we became such a big financial center.  Caymanians worked toward achieving this, not the English.  They only came in after to set up big firms and send all their money back home.   They do not like us and we do not like them.  Have you seen or heard any of them tell you good morning or good evening.  No they do not. Keep an eye on them and you will see.

  9. Chris Randall says:

    What seems to be continually overlooked is that the whole business began with a simple mistake by the RCIPS  public relations lady, who forwarded an email containing the minutes of a meeting attended by senior police officers to Desmond Seales when it should have only gone to those who had been at the meeting.

    Desond thought it was Christmas and a mole had landed in his lap and set out to make as much "news" as he could from it.

    That's all there was to it.

    Mr Evans may feel hard-done-by, and Mr Bridger may feel deprived of his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a hero, but that fact remains that it was all a mistake.

    Leave it alone!


    • John Evans says:

      Don't know where you got that nonsense from but the unintentional release of the minutes from the Gold Commanders meeting had nothing to with what became Operation Tempura. They are two completely separate and unrelated matters. Please don't try to muddy the waters with misinformation here, there's already enough of that coming from the Governor's office.


      In fact nothing from that document ever made it into Net News. One item simply backed up a story I was already working on and the rest was material we already had from other sources or simply wasn't newsworthy.


      I should know, I was the crime reporter at the time so the first person to have access to the email. When I realised what it was I immediately contacted the sender to tell her what had happened. Desmond wasn't even on the RCIPS mailing list so he never got a copy.


      CNS Note: yeshe was and yes he did…..



      • Anonymous says:

        "I was the crime reporter at the time". Terrific irony, Mr Evans. You were the "crime reporter"?? Erm, what crime were you reporting when you illegally went into Desmond's office?

      • Rorschach says:

        I usually read your posts with something of bemused detachement, but you contradict yourself here..first you say that the release of the minutes had nothing to do with what became Temp/Cealt and then you go on to say that Desmond wasn't on the mailing so he never got a copy.  I know for a fact that the press officer who leaked the documents admitted as much to the then CoP Kernohan and that she didn't only do it once, but in fact twice that she admitted to, although it may have only been once to YOU..So while you may believe that this wasn't the cause of the initial investigation, those of us who actually listened to Desmond from time to time actually kind of knew where he was getting some of this information from and THAT was what he was saying in public..

      • Naya Boy says:

        Yeah you got that right Johnny but first you had to commit one on the instruction of those in very high places at the FCO and then you reported back to them. Now you have infact become a victim of the Conspiracy to cover the whole thing up. Life's a Beach ain't it problem was you took a liar along to commit this crime and when you scratch a liar you get a thief and appears those thieves have also stolen the truth from everybody involved and us.This has infact allowed and even bigger theft to occur the theft of our monies to pay for this UK run fiasco.

      • Anonymous says:

        Your post above suggests that you already had alot of the information that was contained in the minutes mistakingly sent to you.

        if that is accurate, then either these high level gold command meetings were not worth having or you had some some serious contacts.

  10. Anonymous says:

    How many times lately do we hear the details cant be released as not to corrupt an ongoing investigation. The police use it about everyday in the news. The prison service use it. the politicians use it. the goverment and now the Gov use it. We have far to many investigations going on. If we were not a country so full of corruptness and crime the phrase would not be needed on such a regular basis. a sihgn of the times i guess.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Soldier on Jennifer Dilbert……You are my hero as I told you personally a few weeks ago because you are the only one it seems who is capable of and diligently engaged in rooting out the corruption and secretsthat are strangling democracy and justice in this place.  If you need any body guards whilst you fight your fight I am able and willing.  God bless you and keep you strong.


  12. Anonymous says:

    In my time here, I have not seen this Governor do anything irrational nor illegal, nor even respond to some pretty crazy criticisms and vicious attacks from a certain quarter.

    I am sure there are good reasons for his position, be that owing to concerns over the stability of the Judiciary to perhaps even ongoing investigations. That much I think he should tell, although it seems to a certain extent he has already.

    Let us see where the process takes us, that fact that he has applied to a court, rather than just decided to block something himself shows the respect the man has for the law. That is the same respect we should all have. A certain former premier would never have bothered with such trivial (in his mind) irrelevancies such as the law.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed 16:53. Just because the governor does something that does not quite fly with the "I want news posse", he is now the enemy.

      I think the Mac mentallity has rubbed off on some of us in here… Its either he(governor) is with us or against us, nothing inbetween.

      The man could have clearly dismiss this and go on with his own business like evryone else has done for months on end, yet instead he took the more respectable way out in reguards to being against this discloser and appealed it publicly and is going throught the correct channels of the appeal process.

      Some of you need to just stop and think before going on a witch hunt each and every time. These documents I would guess are sensitive in nature and perhaps are part of an on going investigation. While quite a lot of money has been paid out for this fiasco, it'll hurt even worst if more was wasted and results are hindered because a few people just wanted to put a number to their stories when they sit on the gossip porch.

      I appluad Mrs. Dilbert for her work, but you guys have to remember, she is human and can make mistakes when it comes to her own views of what she thinks needs to be put in the public domain..

      Just my .02

    • Castor says:

      Well written, once a court ruling is made we will all know the validity and the length and breadth the Freedom of Information Officers powerand also define the extent of the Freedom of Information law.

    • Jonas Dwyer says:

      If details withi the document could jeopardize the Islands relation with the crown, I dare say tit maybe that the CRowns representatives most likely took steps out of the ordinary to create havoc, disparage people plant ideas and things and just went on like a runaway train.   If these matters are vaguely possible then we see why the need to obstruct the Commissioner in the oursuit of her excalibur duties.

    • Anonymous says:

      So the queston is what have we seen HE do? HE is responsile for good governence, ultimately. Did and do we have that here? Will we ever?

      • Anonymous says:

        Incorrect 10.35. The people of Cayman are here to vote in the people for running the isalnd and hence good governance. The governor is here to enforce law and order, security and sound financial management of Cayman. By going to the courts, he is conducting good governance-he is asking for legal opinion from an independent body on whether that information should be blocked from public view or not. The court will say one way or the other, not the Governor.


        Mac on the other hand did not understand good governance (nor did he showany inclination to want to understand it), as that would have affected his "deals" and "commissions" and other personal interests.


        Message is clear, elect responsible, intelligent people who really want to help Cayman and not themselves and the governor would never have to say another word.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Why did the Governor not simply point out that the Commissioner has no jurisdiction over him? That is the short answer to all of this. The Commissioner’s report was awful and quite clearly wrong as a matter of substantive law, butI am not really sure why the Court needs to consider the substance at all.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am not entirely sure the COmmissioner ahs no jurisdiction over docuemnts held at or by the Governor's Office (as oppsoed to over the Governor him / herself) anyway.

      Be that as it may do you not read anythign. if the Governor stuck the proverbial digits up in the air then there woudl be rightful  indignation. He is absolutely right to  offer to submit his office to the same questions of public interest / openness as any other officer / official to whom the future of these beautiful islands is entrusted.  I applaud him for that at least.

      • Anonymous says:

        He could simply have applied Section 25 of the FOI law and said no but this way if the decision goes against the ICO he appears to be acting within the spirit of the law.

    • Anon says:

      To me it shows the Governor respects the laws of this island sufficiently to allow the courts ultimately to decide. Yes he could simply say no that ruling does not apply to him and probabily face critiicizm for it. This way, he has the blessing and support of the courts of Cayman, something he considers of far more value. This is a sign he respects the rule of law.

  14. Anonymous says:

    So much for good governance and *transparency*.

    Easy to say it. Hard to lead by example, huh Guv?

  15. Anon says:

    Why would the Governor not want the documents released?

    • Perigee Moon says:

      Because the public would be more informed and they don’t want that for us. Duh!

      • Anon says:

        Or…it could impact continued investigations into senior figures here. Why blow the chances of a successful case? The information WILL come to light – but lets hope it released at the successsful trial of one of of those accused rather than an FOI. We do want wrongdoing to be punished in Cayman? or do we want to blow any changes of that with the release of the FOI?

  16. Anonymous says:

    And who are paying Walkers' fees? The poor long-suffering people of these islands.

  17. Anon says:

    I agree with the Governor on this one. Whilstwe all want to know what is going on with this whole matter, if there are interconnected investigations into corruption, and if certain matters are still yet tobe determined, releasing this document may actually hinder the passage of justice.


    • Anonymous says:

      Are you serious!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      "Read this"

      Governor takes FOI request to court

      Posted by Martin Bridger on 1/7/2013 6:10:05 AM

      Firstly I want to make it very clear that the reason that I have not spoken publicly about my complaint or the Governors (FCO) findings (Benjamin Aina's report) is because in order to receive a copy of it, I reluctantly had to sign an undertaking not to show it to anyone other than my barrister. Since I left the Cayman Islands in 2009 and after receiving the Governors response two years ago, I have remained silent. However, I am so pleased that the matters are now coming to light. I hope that one day soon the people of the Cayman Islands will know the full truth of what occurred in Operation Tempura and why I took certain actions as the lead investigator. 

      Had I known certain facts, which appear to have been kept from me and the Metropolitan Police service at the time, I may never have made some of the decisions that I made. Every effort has and continues to be made by the establishment both in the Cayman Islands and the UK to prevent the truth being told. 

      I will continue with my fight to have the truth fully exposed which will enable both the Cayman Islands and the International community to make judgements about the investigation when in possession of all the facts and in the absence of misinformation, rumour and innuendo. There is still much to be exposed about this investigation

      • Anonymous says:

        Or you could let it go and get a life.

      • Anonymous says:

        Bridger is a former very senior law officer who a) works for a firm employing former barristers (albeit one of the disbarred) and b) has engaged his own. As such none of the following will be news to him.

        He signed a contract in good faith with the Governor.

        One of the provisions was not to disclose the contents of a document he ahd not at that time seen.

        He now claims unable to disclose the contents becuase of contractual duty.

        If the documents contain evidence of illegal acts then not disclosing them makes him at risk of prosecution for at least one of conspiracy and / or perverting the coruse of justice.

        If that is the case then the contract induces Mr Bridger to commit criminal acts.

        If that is the case and Mr Bridger entered into the contract without knowing that then the contract is unenforceable against hium to the extent of the inducement.

        Unless therefore there is some other overriding reason why the contents should not be disclosed he would not face prosecuton / breach of contract actions if he did so.

        He therefore knows somehting else that prevents him from disclosing.

        All is not as it seems with Mr B!!!

    • Juanunos says:

      That's a complete red herring.

      Tempura, Cealt and all the related investigations are finished. Even the investigations into the complaint this FOI request refers to were done and dusted nearly two years ago.

      In fact when the Governor responded to the appeal the issue of on-going investigations, which is a valid exemption, was never raised.

      Everything in these documents is old history.



      • Anon says:

        How do you know for certain?

        What I can say is the Governor has been a very steady hand for the Caymans despite frequent provocation. I err on the side of the Governor for this reason. He respects the rule of law and I value his judgement far more than some others I could name.

  18. Slowpoke says:

    Maybe the Gov and Mac have more in common than they think…

  19. Anonymous says:

    This is wrong!

    FOI means just that. I condemn entirely the frankly contemptuous tardiness of various CIG departments in releasing information because I want to know what they are hiding.

    Equally, this request has to be granted. The Tempura investigation was  an appalling waste of public money, certain aspects of it bordered on illegality, and much of it was unnecessary. The public have every right to know what went on, and the Governor/FCO is wrong in trying to withold it. He should not allow himself to descend to the depths that Bush has. 

  20. Anonymous says:

    By going to all this effort not to reveal the documents requested, the Governor is simply giving the impression that there is indeed something to hide about the conduct of the judiciary or the "powersthat be" in this case. In addition, the continued refusal of the Attorney General to even return calls to the Compass when they put questions for comment to him, further stokes the fires of suspicion.

    • Anonymous says:

      There was a lot to hide, for example, at an early stage, Governor Jacks and Bridges are said to have requested advice from a very senior retired police officer. He took one look and said this is ridiculous. That didnt fit their preconceived wishes so they ignored it, and ploughed on into the expensive mess it became. This man told me that when he was a kid he wanted a coyboy outfit, but his dad got him the Met instead!

  21. Anonymous says:

    I think that final paragraph sums this all up nicely.

    As for the cost of it all? That $8million figure is way out of date, it must be at least three times that by now but of course the Governor's office is also blocking attempts to have the investigation re-audited.

  22. Anonymous says:

    You can run and you cannot hide. For the governor when fighting McKeeva it was an open and shut case because this guy was quite unpopular, that was easy. However FOI also cuts both ways and it will be hard for the governor not to release the documents. It will be McKeeva and China Harbour, after a protracted battle with FCO he gave in. In the face of public opinion Mr Taylor your time is up.