Archive for January 7th, 2009

So where’s the rabbit, Martin?

So where’s the rabbit, Martin?

| 07/01/2009 | 8 Comments

As with many guests who overstay their welcome, Senior Investigating Officer of Operation Tempura, Martin Bridger, isbecome something of a liability, and a costly one at that.

The results of the Justice Alex Henderson judicial reviews have made it quite clear that Bridger’s regard for the rule of law, given that he is a law enforcement officer, is also questionable.

While there are numerous criticisms that can be made regarding the work of the entire Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT), the one that gets under the skin of this writer is the fact that Bridger has managed to make people here in Cayman believe he is actually investigating corruption within the ranks of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Force.

Although I, too, was persuaded of this on Bridger’s arrival, I have since, in the wake of events, been dissuaded from this view. Bridger is here for major scalps. After all, police commendations, medals, accolades and gongs don’t come to internal affairs officers who expose the corrupt dealings of Sergeant Plod or Corporal Bobby. No, indeed, to get the crowd cheering Bridger needs to bring down the big fellas – commissioners, deputy commissioners and, of course, judges, and if you can bag yourself a chief justice – well that should really show ’em.

And, indeed, if any of our judiciary were to be proven to be corrupt by Bridger or any of SPIT then we would all dutifully applaud and congratulate his efforts. However, attempting to bring down a judge of longstanding such as Henderson for merely asking a fairly legitimate question of his dive buddy is hardly the stuff that will win you friends and influence people.

If, as has been hinted at throughout the Henderson hearings for those able to read between the lines, Bridger’s target remains among Cayman’s judiciary, the recent official revelations that the judiciary are no longer part of the Operation Tempura investigation leaves everyone wondering, exactly where is Bridger’s rabbit?

Back at the cop shop, from those on the ground, as it were, it seems that Bridger has made absolutely no efforts to investigate any allegations against police officers lower down the service. At present, Bridger has an interesting scorecard. He has certainly achieved the downfall of former Commissioner Stuart Kernohan without proving a single iota of misconduct against him, and, of course, Chief Superintendent John Jones remains suspended from duty on full pay, for almost ten months now, for allegedly being involved in a suggestion that Lyndon Martin and John Evan should riffle in Desmond Seales’ filing Cabinets.

At the top of Bridger’s scorecard is Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon, who is facing charges of misconduct in a public office that involve Dixon’s decision to release two men on two separate occasions from custody. Charges which some have already suggested are flimsy at best and are unlikelyto result in any kind of conviction once he appears in court and offers evidence for what will be proved to be legitimate decisions he made to release them.

While Bridger has managed to convince a number of people who already mistrust the competence of the local police that he is here for good reason, how much longer he will maintain their support without actually charging any police officers for real crimes remains to be seen. His mismanagement of the Henderson case has undermined any political support he ever had and certainly any support that existed in the local judiciary.

Although he may doggedly continue to insist that his investigation will go where the truth lies and will not be hindered by anyone, without a rabbit coming out of his policeman’s hat soon the truth may be revealed to be simply that there is no significant corruption in our police service, or if there is, he hasn’t found it.

There is no doubt that the RCIPS has issues and that may owe much to three commissioners in ten months – four if you count the shortest serving top cop in history, Royce Hipgrave, who clearly saw the writing on the wall on this PDQ, as they say.

However, most of the problems within the RCIPS probably stem from incompetence, poor standards of leadership or negligence rather than genuine corruption, and most police officers appear to be honest decent and hardworking people – some of them are even very good. Perhaps a few vigorous training sessions would have proved more effective in shaking up the RCIPS than Bridger’s investigation, and it would have certainly have been cheaper.

The issue, however, is that Bridger does not appear to be making any progress in bringing any police officers to account for anything, and while he is leading the people of Cayman to believe that his investigation is about corrupt police in general, his focus appears to be entirely on the issues surrounding the alleged break-in at Net News. Even the charges against Dixon arose accidentally and not through systematic investigation of police conduct at large.

Bridger’s reason for still being here is now severely in question, and if the investigation remains purely centred on ‘Netnewsgate’, aka ‘much ado about nothing’, or unless he produces a rabbit of significant proportions soon, there is little doubt that he will be driven from the jurisdiction. If, however, he has evidence of genuine corruption among the police or the judiciary, he must reveal that to the people of the Cayman Islands, who have been paying his wages and his expenses for the last 16 months since his undercover arrival in September 2007. The people deserve some transparency and some real answers.


Continue Reading

Artists wanted for Miss Lassie

Artists wanted for Miss Lassie

| 07/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Local artists are being invited to reproduce the paintings on the doors and windows of Miss Lassie’s house as part of the restoration project. CNCF Artistic Director and member of the restoration committee, Henry Muttoo explained that the original paintings will have to be removed to preserve them therefore they need the local artistic community to help reproduce them.

“The original windows on the house have lost quite a lot of their visual and structural integrity to weathering and, with much of the paint fading and flaking, the images will soon disappear if we do not remove and, as far as possible, arrest the deterioration,” Muttoo said.

Consequently the Cayman National Cultural Foundation is inviting all artists who paint in oils, to sign up for the chance to be selected to paint one of the windows or doors on the house. Muttoo said that with Miss Lassie not being around to ‘refresh’ the images as she did, they will not last much longer.

“New window will be constructed by Steve Hawley, ‘aged’ to look authentic and the original artwork (using photographs in CNCF’s archive) copied onto the new panels which would have specially prepared surfaces and a finish that will help delay the effects of weathering,” Muttoo added pointing out that each artist will be responsible for painting one window or door and that will have his or her name engraved on a small plaque that will read, “This window is a copy by (artist’s name) from the original, by Gladwyn K. Bush.”

CNCF Chairman, Martyn Bould said that this contribution of our artists will enable financial resources to be redirected to other needy areas of the restoration – especially in these difficult economic times – such as the refurbishment of the duplex that will house a Gift shop/tea room, and an viewing and intuitive artists gallery, while giving our artists an opportunity to engage Miss Lassie’s process and making a valuable contribution to the restoration of the home.

Artists who paint in oils and are interested can contact the Cayman National Cultural Foundation at 949-5477 or email the Artistic Director at

Continue Reading

Minister questions Bridger’s continued presence

Minister questions Bridger’s continued presence

| 07/01/2009 | 3 Comments

(CNS): The continued presence of the Senior Investigating Officer of Operation Tempura, Martin Bridger, is causing growing concern among the country’s elected government ministers who say the former Scotland Yard officer has lost all credibility and  Governor Stuart Jack should have removed him from the current RCIPS investigation some time ago. “We continue to be gravely concerned over the stubborn refusal of the governor to remove Bridger,” Alden McLaughlin told CNS this week.

In the wake of Sir Peter Cresswell’s second ruling regarding the unlawful arrest of Justice Alex Henderson, which will result in the Caymanian tax payer not only covering Henderson’s legal cost but an estimated $2.5 million of damages as well, the Minister for Educationand a former practicing attorney who has consistently voiced his doubts about the credibility of the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT), has stated that given the results of both judicial reviews it is absurd that Bridger is still here in the Cayman Islands .

“Considering what this man has done — the immense damage he has caused to this country as a result of his mismanagement of this investigation and his total lack of regard for the rule of law in the Cayman Islands — for anyone to now think he could have any credibility in prosecuting anything in a court of law here after what has happened is clearly deluded,” McLaughlin added.

Since the arrest of Justice Alex Henderson in September 2008 by officers from SPIT and the subsequent unlawful search of his office and home, all of which have been proved to be entirely unlawful, the elected administration has begun citing its concerns regarding the integrity of Operation Tempura.

In the last few months Minister McLaughlin, in particular, has been steadfast in his call for the closure of the investigation and the removal of Bridger. However, most of the Cabinet elected members have said they would be reluctant to vote for any further appropriation of funding regarding the investigation and would be prepared to force the governor to use his reserve powers to appropriate the necessary cash.

Given the extensive legal costs awarded to Henderson, on top of the expected damages and SPIT’s own legal bill, which included an expert UK team of various briefs and advisors, the Cayman tax payer will be footing a bill which could reach as much as $3 million dollars just for the Henderson arrest alone. Any other legal action coming from former Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, suspended Chief Superintendent John Jones and others could also add to the bill.

Costs for the investigation itself are already, according to some government sources, exceeding $4 million for a project that is now more than 16 months old and has yet to reveal any serious corruption or crime among either the police or the judiciary. The only charges so far brought by SPIT include two counts of falsely accusing a police officer, down from an original tally of 17 charges against Lyndon Martin, a former employee of Cayman Net News and 2 non-criminal charges against Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon for misconduct, which involve the senior officer’s decision to release two men on two separate occasions in 2003 and 2004 from custody. These are unrelated to the original investigation, which focuses on accusations that are now said to be false that Cayman Net News publisher Desmond Seales and Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis were in a corrupt relationship.

However, Bridger has not only remained in post but, as noted by McLaughlin, despite his shortcomings, he has even been promoted by the governor and given a place on the latest so-called ‘oversight committee’. “This is how this seems to be working — you mess up and you get promoted,” added McLaughlin in frustration.

McLaughlin also noted that Henderson’s cost will be discussed among elected Cabinet officials over the coming days as this was an issue seen in isolation from the actual running costs of SPIT, which McLaughlin reiterated the elected government would not be prepared to sanction.

“There is no way that we can countenance the continuation of this investigation given the evident failures of Bridger, and as the elected government we will make a decision on how we can deal with this,” added McLaughlin.



Continue Reading

Reporter arrested on job

Reporter arrested on job

| 07/01/2009 | 25 Comments

(CNS): Having reported making two arrests for obstruction at Shir Reynolds Nightclub on Saturday night, 3 January, the crime scene where 17-year-old Jerome Christopher Alexander Russell was shot dead, the police acknowledged yesterday that one of those arrested was Kenneth Bryan (left), a reporter with Cayman 27 News who has denied that he did anything wrong.

According to sources close to Bryan, the reporter was attempting to do his job by filming the murder scene for the local television news station and was following procedures as set out by his supervisors at Cayman Islands Television Network as agreed with the RCIPS. He has insisted that he remained behind the crime scene tape during filming but was still told by officers to move away and various heated exchanges took place.

Even when the crime scene tape was put further back, Bryan has said that he and his camera crew remained behind the tape at all times until they were forced to cross it after being blocked from the CITN van at which point Bryan was arrested. (Evidence of Bryan’s report can be viewed here)

Although CITN refused to make an official comment regarding the incident, CNS has learned that the station is standing by Bryan, who was released without charge, and has raised concerns with the police as this is not the first time reporters have been prevented from doing their jobs at crime scenes by officers unaware of the procedures for covering and reporting incidents of crime for the television media.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service often relies on the media to assist in getting out their messages regarding witnesses and information, and says it is keen to remain on good terms with all of the local media organisations. Speaking about this particular incident, Deborah Denis the Police Press Liaison, said on Tuesday 6 January on behalf of the RCIPS that both the police and CITN were taking what had happened at the scene seriously.

“The RCIPS is committed to working with the media and has an open media policy which stresses the need to work in partnership with all media houses. Education around what is expected from the media and the police at crime scenes will continue with reporters and internally with police staff,” she stated.

One source at CITN stated that they have concerns that police officers are themselves nervous about being filmed doing their job and therefore try to prevent television crews from working at scenes while having considerably less concerns about print and internet media houses, giving the film crews a disadvantage.

Moreover, as the media most able to respond visually and therefore attract a high viewing audience, the police are missing out on the opportunities to alert the public to incidents as well as opportunities to find witnesses by hampering TV crews in their work, they said.



Continue Reading