So where’s the rabbit, Martin?

| 07/01/2009

As with many guests who overstay their welcome, Senior Investigating Officer of Operation Tempura, Martin Bridger, is become 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 Kernohanwithout 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.


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  1. Anonymous says:

    WOW WEEEEEE !!!!!!! Now that’s what I call a very interesting piece to read from Mr. John Evans.

    I can’t wait to read the report being prepared by Martin Bridger. I should be careful though, it might make me go blind !!!!!!!!!!



  2. John Evans says:

    I can vouch for the fact that officers from Operation Tempura were given details of several complaints of misconduct against senior serving RCIPS officers – I can even name one of the Met officers present when the details were given. These complaints came by way of material supplied to Cayman Net News and included allegations concerning the destruction of details of a DUI arrest and alleged falsification of evidence, which resulted in two male suspects going to prison. In addition another RCIPS officer was, until an incident that effectively shut them up just over a year ago, ready to provide Net News with further allegations involving conspiracy by RCIPS officers to pervert the course of justice.

    The allegations never made the pages of Net News partly because of who was involved and also because I too trusted Martin Bridger to do the job he was being paid to do.

    All the officers concerned in the allegations are still in post and all the information I had to hand on leaving Cayman suggests that absolutely no attempt was made to conduct any follow up.

    I am currently seeking damages from the Metropolitan Police Service in respect of my treatment at the hands of Operation Tempura, including loss of income caused by my premature departure from Cayman and the fact that they have now effectively prevented me from safely returning to the islands. In response Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who was the officer charge at the time, is working very hard to pass all the costs of this claim on to the people of the Cayman Islands despite the fact that his officers, not members of the RCIPS, are responsible for everything that happened.

    There seems to an elaborate shuffling exercise in progress to distance the Met, who admittedly have more than enough problems to handle back in the UK, and generate a climate of ‘plausible deniability’ from Operation Tempura and the fallout from its activities. If the people of the Cayman Islands let this happen then all I can say is, "more fool them."

    The whole Operation Tempura fiasco is currently in the hands of the Metropolitan Police Authority. I hope that soon it will also come under scrutiny from the Independant Police Complaints Commission – the least Cayman can do is also launch a full, and public, investigation into exactly what has been going since Operation Tempura hit the beaches in September 2007.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Bridger is smallfry.  Anton Duckworth’s recent letter to the local editors identified the root cause of long months of mayhem as a lack of leadership at the highest level.

  4. MB Ebanks says:

    Very well said, Wendy. I fully endorse and support this commentary and the overriding point: Bridger has produced absolutely nothing that is worth the embarrassment, cost and disruption to the jurisdiction.  However, in the end – that may simply be his purpose and overall goal – to facilitate as much reputational damage for Cayman as possible and for as long as possible.

    HE Governor Jack unwavering support for Bridger continues to also draw the ire of our community, as the long this farce goes on at HE Governor’s beshest and indeed- open encouragement – HE Governor is equally complicit in Bridger’s scheme to damage Cayman’s reputation.


  5. Anonymous says:

    Keeping writing, Ms. Ledger. Call them to account. This is the proper role of the press.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Excellent article!

  7. Knal N. Domp says:

    Rule 1: Things Aren’t Always What They Seem.
    Rule 2: There Is No Smoke Without Fire.
    Rule 3: The Governor Knows Best.

    • Anonymous says:

      Knal has unswerving faith in the British as a benign, powerful force. Bridger’s report is due any day now. We shall see whether is faith is justified, but it had better be real good. Real corruption this time, not trivial nonsense. What can expect Knal – high profile arrests that are actually lawful?