ICO: Release Tempura report

| 12/07/2014

(CNS): More than two years after a freedom of information request was made to the governor’s office and after a drawn out courtroom battle, the acting information commissioner has ordered that a report relating to Operation Tempura be released into the public domain. Following an order by the courts that the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) re-examine a new submission from the governor’s office over the documents, Jan Liebaers found that – except for a single segment on page 13 of the complaint – the records were not exempted under the Freedom of Information Law and ordered the office to release the controversial report about the bungled internal police operation.

The ongoing saga of Operation Tempura is still costing the Cayman tax payer as the governor’s office continues to fight to keep a lid on details of the investigation and in particular a complaint made by the leading investigative officer of the discredited probe, Martin Bridger.

Since this request was made, information about the documents has leaked into the public domain, raising more questions, not about the visiting UK cops sent to Cayman to investigate alleged corruption in the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, but the role of former Cayman governor Stuart Jack, the UK’s overseas territories security advisor Larry Covington and Cayman’s Attorney General Samuel Bulgin.

Accusations that these men knew all along about a clandestine entry into the office of a local newspaper to look for evidence of corruption is now at the heart of the issue of the Tempura fall-out, along with allegations in this complaint of cover-ups and lies and about how the costly internal investigation was managed. Accusations about the judiciary and inconsistencies by the governor’s office and the legal department are also believed to form part of the allegations in the complaint.

Once again the governor’s office has 45 days to release the documents, which three governors have now fought to keep hidden from the public view — Stuart Jack, Duncan Taylor and the current governor, Helen Kilpatrick. The governor can, however, once again appeal to the courts and continue the costly endeavour of keeping the document secret.

In his ruling Liebaers said that although the judge who heard the judicial review of the original ICO decision to release the documents, Acting Justice Sir Alan Moses had narrowed the matters in question to a review of whether or not the documents were exempt under section 20. Nevertheless, the information commissioner revealed that the governor’s office came up with more exemptions in its new submission, which he refused to consider.

“Despite the explicit, singular focus of the current reconsideration the Governor’s Office also asks me to consider additional exemptions which it claims are relevant, namely the exemptions in sections 16(b)(i), 16(b)(ii) and 17((b)(ii),” he wrote in his ruling. “I will not consider the new exemptions raised for the following reasons. Firstly, this reconsideration stems directly from the Judge’s unambiguous Order, which is very clear to the effect that my reconsideration should only be concerned with the application of section 20(1)(d).”

Liebaers emphasised the importance in this case of the public interest. The documents in question relate to a report on the reasons why Duncan Taylor, the governor at the time, dismissed a complaint made by the senior investigating officer and an attorney on the Tempura case.

“The allegations in the instant case were not merely of concern to the complainant but to the public in the Cayman Islands,” Liebaers writes. “The public … was entitled to know that the summary dismissal was the result of a conclusion reached after thorough and reasoned consideration.”

The commissioner pointed out that the public interest in ensuring that the summary dismissal of the compliant was reasoned and transparent was more important than the possible damage caused by repeating the allegations in the compliant in the public domain.

“Public authorities need to be, and need to be seen to be, accountable for the decisions they make, except where the information that would be revealed is itself exempted, which it is not in this case. The matters at stake do not only relate to the personal affairs of the complainant, as the Governor’s Office claims, but are of great public concern,” Liebaers stated. “I consider the public interest in knowing the reasons for decisions made by public authorities significant, and specifically so in regard to the Governor’s response to the allegations against the judiciary.

CNS has contacted the governor’s office to enquire if the report will finally be released ofif the Caymanian tax payers will be picking up the tab for another costly courtroom battle.

See Liebers full decision below or visit www.infocomm.com.

Category: FOI

Comments (31)

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  1. Whodatis says:

    Are we meant to believe that the British goverment does not value the rights and concerns of its overseas territory citizens?

    Are we meant to believe that they would disregard our national objections to the mishandling of this despicable and expensive debacle?

    That would be a first.

    *Anyway, I doubt No.10 has much time to focus on this today. Cameron is busy trying to thwart the forthcoming UKIP overrun of the House of Commons by hastily reshuffling his bungling government.

    Who said the "far-Right" was irrelevant? In fact, they seem to be spurring the most change in Europe today, albeit vicariously, lol!

  2. UHUHUH says:

    Why don't we  just rename us, The Grand Corruption Islands?

    Then if someone should say something like "Man This Place Is Corrupt" then you can reply "Hell Yeah" and we're proud of it.

    We'll start handing out Status Grants to anyone who can prove they're "Corrupt" and "Wealthy!"

    And before long we'd be the wealthiest Island in the Caribbean!

     

  3. Anonymous says:

    "Caymanian taxpayers" you havin a laugh?

  4. Larry & Da byes says:

    Yes John Evans its a cover up to cover a coverup and the deception by certain elements who are withholding these muy importanty documents are simply playing their usual "Sic" little game of holding things down so some will believe they are hiding something crucial when infact its Bul!$#@ hoping when they get hold of it the dumb Natives will run off like savages with a dangerous and important instrument or tool which infact is a harmless Toy. Makes good fun watching old boy see how the natives run some more tea and crumpets. No worries we own the playground and useless players on it too ain't that right.

  5. Anonymous says:

    A weak decision starts by refusing to consider legitimate arguments and goes downhill from there. 

    • Anonymous says:

      100% agree.  Can the Governor not just slap down a PII certificate and put an end to this silliness?

      • Anonymous says:

        Do we have PII (Public Interest Immunity) in the Cayman Islands? I certainly hope not because it has always been used in the UK simply to prevent embarrassing material being presented in court, often to the detriment of innocent defendants in criminal cases. PII is, in blunt terms, a nasty little get out used and abused by people with something to hide.

      • Michel says:

        The way I see it, our Governor should end this and choose to allow the Famous Tempura document released. It would be a very nice gesture from the UK and the Governor. If we have some Bad apples in the Lot that are still In positions of important influence then they have a lot of explaining to do. But please don’t let them get away with it. Rumors are often worse then the Facts. Too many families are hurting and that wasted money at least at least we need to know. God Bless. Michel Lemay.

  6. Union Jack says:

    This is a national issue for the British government. I fail to see why an adminstrator with oversight of local government has any interest or powers.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because the Caymanian people have paid for it!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        It is probably more accurate to say that companies on work permits, tourists paying for hotel rooms and businesses use the Caymans for convenience paid for it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Um, because it's the law, all signed off to by the governor?

      • Anonymous says:

        But it is only a piece of local authority legislation over local authorities.  Where does it say it extends to the Governor? 

  7. Anonymous says:

    Let the SUNSHINE OF FREEDOM OF INFORMATION SHINE ON THOSE MATTERS THOSE THAT SO MANY, HAVE SO MUCH TO HIDE!

    Caymanians be aware that many persons in the UK goverment, the CI government, current politicians and expoliticians, civil servants, private sector businesses, non-government organizations and individuals are fighting against the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAW,  to weaken it as they are now doing with the STANDARDS IN PUBLIC LIFE LAW.

    Many statutory board members, senior civil servants, politicians and business people are multimilionairs as a direct result of their public positions. 

    We the people the middleclass are being pressured into borderline poverty lowerclass while these other peope get richer and richer, on our backs because the crime of corruption pays in the Cayman Islands, they draft and chage the laws to benefit the chosen few rich people.

    There is a full on going attack against "Good Governance":

    The Complaints Commissioner has done her job very well, exposed poor govenance, to now the UK Government with the encouagement of our elected and civil servants are not renewing her contract.  

    Another example of our corrupt governance systems, reminds us of how they also kicked out previous excellent Auditor General Mr. Dan Duguay.  Then they got Mr. Swarbrick – he continued to do good work and is just as hated as Mr. Duguay was by those person in the UK and the Cayman Islands who do bad corrupt things.  

     

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      there is now no chance that Mr Liebars will be made Commissioner. His goose is cooked.

      • Anonymous says:

        There should be no chance of the Acting Information Commissioner getting the job because there are qualified Caymanians available !!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Let the sunshine of freedom.                     I agree with every thing you have said in your comment .  People if you do not stand up againstthe politians , and show them that you are not going to sit down and let them distroy you & the Islands .  Remember that GREED/ CORRUPTION is  2 bad things if you are not part of it !   As i read in the news today it sounds like they would like to take away news media from you , thats what happend in Cuba and look at them today and many more countrys around wourld , the news medias do not tell you the trueth because of  CORRUPTION / DICTATORSHIP IN THOSE COUNTRYS .

      • Anonymous says:

        09:14.If they want to take away the Compass,I say do it right away.Maybe they can take the Editors too.

    • Anonymous says:

                 10:49.You make some serious allegations.My suggestion to you is ;sign your name,give us some names to work with ,and  some proof so that we can get rid of these corrupt people.Remember though,just because someone gets rich because of their position ,does not mean that it was obtained in a corrupt manner.Many accountants and lawyers have come here and become rich because of the position they held ,but that alone does not make them corrupt.What has to be considered is how individuals spent or invested their money.Some individuals were able to earn a lot of overtime years ago which was invested in property development,now some twenty or thirty years later through reinvesting they have a very comfortable nest egg and they did it without being corrupt.So let's make sure when we say people are corrupt that we know this for a fact and ,and do not wrongly accuse persons who were able through wise investment to  manage their funds in such a way that some call them rich.

  8. Anonymous says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

    Congratulations, Mr. Liebaers for your concerns for the general public of the Cayman Islands.

    We, the public are the ones paying and therefore we have a right to know all the facts. I do hope this will be the end to all the objections from the Governors office and that the whole report will be released to the public without any alterations.

    Thank you Mr. Liebaers !!!!!!!!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I am sure those suspected of corruption where cases could not be proved should provide interesting reading. Wonder how many politicians and civil servants will be on the list?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Please governor, release the documents and let’s not make me and other Caymanians distrust your office anymore than we already do. If you don’t, you are going make it really uncomfortable for us as a community to live with/beside those that are connected to you and take your command. Example; police commissioner, OCC, Auditor General, AG………

    The FCO should instruct you to release all information regarding tempura in order to restore our trust. If not it can only be taken as sign that trust is not a concern for them. A lot of funny business is going on and your actions are ruining my Country.

    Without true clarity, this Will get nasty.

    Signed a young Caymanian

    • Anonymous says:

      It's not the Governor, it's London, the Governor is just a puppet.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please Governer ,release the .  that comment should be sent by regiestered mail to the Governer and all the politians so they see and hear the frustration that are building up in the people today .

  11. Anonymous says:

    Lets get this over with.  Cayman stop trying to cover this up, the public paid for it they should be able to see what they paid for.  

  12. Anon says:

    Mr Liebers was always the real voice/power in the ICO. Many of us recognised his "voice" and writing style in the judgements released over the last few years. But the credit had to go eleswhere, for obvious nationalistic reasons.

  13. Nowdis Khriminayshun says:

    Let's see how our "no discrimination" governor fares with this one? Does she discriminate against people who want to know the truth?

  14. Knot S Smart says:

    I tried calling the Wiki Leaks man could not get him…

    Russian phones dont work so good so I could not get through to the Snowden guy either…

    And Ezzard must be parking his truck somewhere else these days cause nobody is putting any envelopes on his windshield…

    Guess we will never get down to the down-and-dirty, nitty-gritty, of who-did-what, and who-said-what, and who-knew-what, –  in this sordid matter…

  15. John Evans says:

    In my opinion one of the problems with last year's Judicial Review was the decision of the lawyers employed by the ICO to exclude a substantial amount of material from the UK FOI appeal that I had offered to share with them. This included the complete FCO argument for exempting the documents. In simple terms they went to court half-cocked so that hearing was an expensive fiasco.

    However, since then something else has surfaced that tends to make the already muddy waters even murkier.

    Shortly before I went to the OffshoreAlert Conference in Miami it emerged that there may actually be two versions of this report. An original submitted to the FCO and Duncan Taylor in January 2011 and a substantially revised or dumbed down version that was completed in March 2011. 

    The allegation is that, in a move not unlike the dumbing down of the 2009 Tempura/Cealt audit, what should have been an independent investigation was subjected to what might best be described as 'command influence'. In other wordsthe findings were re-written to suit the needs of the Governor's Office. This is completely unverified (and probably now unverifiable) but my source is convinced that it happened. If true, this whole FOI fight was a complete waste of time and has really only contributed to the cover up.       

      

  16. Anonymous says:

    But the ICO has no jurisdiction over the Governor's documents.