Governor stands by Bridger

| 15/01/2009

(CNS): Members of the local legal profession are still waiting for a formal public statement from the Governor, Stuart Jack, that he has confidence in the wider Cayman Islands Judiciary. However, Jack has attempted to defend his own actions on a local radio talk show in the wake of damning criticism from the judiciary over Operation Tempura and the actions of SIO Martin Bridger in the unlawful arrest of Justice Alex Henderson.

Despite questions to the governor’s office regarding the recent comments over the need for him to support the Cayman judiciary and calls for the removal of Bridger, CNS has still not received an answer. However, Stuart Jack did mention at the end of an unannounced and suprise appearance on Crosstalk, a public radio phone-in show on Rooster 101.9, that he felt the wider public and the business community could have confidence in the local judiciary and he was very pleased that Henderson was back on the bench.

In the face of Sir Peter Cresswell’s emphatic recent rulings on what were described as SIO Bridger’s very fundamental and serious errors in arresting Henderson for an offence that did not exist, the governor again commended Bridger whom he said was an excellent professional police officer.

Evading any direct answers about the entire affair surrounding Henderson and Bridger’s part in the judge’s unlawful arrest, the governor said that everyone makes mistakes and the community should be more forgiving, but he recognized that he had ultimate responsibility.

He said Operation Tempura was all about a police force that the country could trust, but he could not say more because the lawyers had advised him not to. He said that it was hard for him to keep the public informed even though he wanted to, and added that the same applied to the democratically elected members of Cabinet.

Addressing criticisms and complaints from them that he was not telling the elected officials fundamental things regarding the investigation, he said he did not want to take issue with his Cabinet colleagues given the constraints of what is under investigation and what is before the courts. But he did say that he thought it best that the democratically elected members were not directly involved in police matters, otherwise Cayman could become like the former Soviet Union where he served in the past.

“We have tried to keep them as well informed as we can,” he said. “We have a constitution at the moment that does not actually provide a lot of scope for involving the government in police matters and fundamentally my view is that is right,” Jack stated.

He did, however, note the sticky issue that Cabinet was fundamental in appropriating the funds he needed to continue the investigation.

However, CNS has learned that in recent cabinet meetings the elected officials have made it very clear they are not prepared to appropriate any more funds for Operation Tempura. At issue is the unknown sum for Henderson’s judicial review, which not only includes the justice’s claim for damages, which is said to be in the region of $2.5 million, but his costs as well as Bridger’s expenses for attempting to defend the judicial review. This included an incredible team of legal experts, barristers and QC’s from the UK.

The auditor general is now conducting an investigation into the expenditure of this whole 16 month investigation, which has yet to reveal any serious corruption or misconduct. It is estimated to have cost anything from CI$ 4-10 million, which will come out of the Caymanian people’s pocket. Even if the elected officials refuse to appropriate the neccessry funds, the governor will be able to use his reserve powers.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Put simply, the Governor has to support Bridger. Why ???? They are all in " Coohoots" together !!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    You make some good points. However, note that an article appeared in the Cayman Net News on 31st December, 2008 (–1-1—.html) which suggested that originally Mr. Bridger had obtained advice from the AG’s department (both civil and criminal) but that the AG had later indicated that it would be more appropriate for Mr. Bridger to obtain his own independent advice "locally" whereupon Mr. Bridger sought the advice of Mr.  Andre Mon Desir and subsequently Mr. Polaine who was approved by the AG to act.  I do not believe that there was any response to the story from the AG.

    Frankly, it would be surprising and ironic if the AG approved obtaining Cayman Islands legal advice from one who is not qualified to render that advice. There is also evidence that Mr. Polaine was present and rendered advice to Mr. Bridger’s team on the Island which is no doubt in breach of the Legal Practitioner’s Law and the Immigration Law.          

  3. Anonymous says:

    It is interesting that the Governor is pleading for "forgiveness" for Bridger, yet seems to put this "forgiveness" out of reach of others,  for example, Depuity Commissioner Dixon, who served this country long and hard in an ardous, difficulty job, demanding great personal sacrifice, and who is facing trial for an alleged misjudgement that took place many years ago. 

    With regard to the "mistakes" of Bridger, I saw in one of today’s daily newspapers a transparent ploy to deflect blame to the AG, saying that the AG  did not advise the no-doubt highly paid UK advisor. 

    If it were not so serious, it would have deserved a laugh.  It is just ridiculous that we are paying outside advisors for advice when that advice is available for "free" internally, not to mention being a little ludicrous for the advisor to need advice in the first case. 

    Knowing the AG, I do not assess him as being stingy with his advice.  They could not have asked him.

    But the question remains whether they would have listened even if the AG had initiated such advice: 1. if they valued the AG’s advice they would not have felt compelled to get outside advice; and, 2., they are still arguing that they are right in spite of many opinions to the contrary — including that of the learned jurist Sir Peter Cresswell.  

    Which comes back to the mixed messges we are getting — the Governor saying that Bridger has made mistakes, and Bridger’s advisers still insisting that their advice on which he acted is correct.  Seems a lot of arrogance going on here, which is not surprising given the source.