Netnewsgate trial set

| 20/08/2009

(CNS): The trial of former Member of the Legislative Assembly and Cayman Net News reporter, Lyndon Martin, on charges in connection with Netnewsgate will begin on Monday, 31 August. Martin, who is charged with falsely accusing another person of a crime and doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice, told CNS he was looking forward to having his day in court and clearing his name with regard to the alleged break-in to the offices of his former employer, Desmond Seales, and revealing details of the events that triggered Operation Tempura.

Martin was originally arrested in March of 2008 on the same day that Governor Stuart Jack announced to the Caymanian public that three senior RCIPS officers had been placed on ‘required leave’ and that there was an undercover UK Metropolitan special police investigation taking place in the Cayman Islands.

He was subsequently charged with some 17 counts relating to burglary and false allegations as it was alleged by the Scotland Yard team that Martin had falsely accused Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis of a corrupt relationship with Desmond Seals, the proprietor of Cayman Net News, where Martin was working at the time as a reporter. In the ensuing 18 months, however, nearly all the charges against him were dropped leaving just two on the sheet, which will be heard before a jury on 31 August.

Since Martin’s arrest a number of key players in this particular part of the Operation Tempura investigation have left the island, including the senior investigating officer from the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT) Martin Bridger and Richard Coy, who arrested Martin. Key witness John Evans, the Net News reporter who was also alleged to have unlawfully entered the premises of the paper where he worked at the time, has since returned to the UK.

The former police commissioner, Stuart Kernohan, who was sacked by the governor during this investigation, and former chief superintendent, John Jones, with whom Martin and Evans had shared their suspicions, have also since left the island. Both men were cleared by the previous acting commissioner, James Smith, but Kernohan has never returned to Cayman, and although John Jones was reportedly offered his job back, he has yet to take up his post.

While Bridger is not expected to return, Kernohan and Jones are both reportedly down as witnesses for the two week jury trial, along with John Evans, who told CNS via e-mail on Wednesday (19 August) that he would only return subject to guarantees from the appropriate people, including if necessary the governor, that they would take steps to ensure his safety.

Evans also indicated  that he required “absolute protection and immunity from any malicious action that my former employer, or anyone acting on his behalf, may be planning.” Evans added that he had not yet received any such guarantees.

“I recognise that my presence is essential to Lyndon Martin getting a fair trial and I believe that I have a duty to him as a fellow journalist to attend. It is my opinion that our former employer has gone to great lengths to prejudice the judicial process,” Evans added. “I believe that both Lyndon and myself have issues relating to material published since 27 March 2008 that need to be raised with the RCIPS and look forward to the opportunity to do just that.”

The long awaited trial will be the second legal drama directly associated with Operation Tempura and Martin Bridger, the former Scotland Yard officer. Bridger brought the charges against Martin and was behind the suspension of Kernohan and John Jones, as well as the unlawful arrest of Justice Alex Henderson, who received $1.275 million from the CI government in damages following a judicial review, which found his arrest for misconduct in a public office was an unarrestable offence. The charges against Henderson also related to the alleged unlawful entry into Net News.

Bridger also charged Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon with misconduct in a public office, and that trial is scheduled for September. RCIPS Inspector Burmon Scott was another victim of Bridger’s investigation and was arrested in connection with the charges made against Dixon. However, no charges were ever brought against Scott, who along with Kernohan now has pending legal action against both Bridger and Coy as well as the police commissioner.

The two week courtroom drama is expected to hear from a number of witnesses and reveal hitherto unknown details of the still mysterious Operation Tempura investigation, which was supposedly investigating police corruption and has cost the Cayman tax payer in excess of $6 million.

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  1. Nicky Watson says:

    As with all trials, until there is a verdict we cannot publish comments concerning the guilt or innocence of the person standing trial.

  2. anoin says:

    "falsely accusing another person of a crime "

    good warning to any whistle blowers or reporting  of suspicous transactions underMoney Laundering Laws

    Should the police get charged with this if they fail to have someone found guilty at trial?

  3. Anonymous says:

    It would be great if we could get the Funds back from the British Gov., but rather wishful thinking! As we all very wel know, they stick together and will cover each other butt’s! Going after the Governor and Bridger personally is yet another story and would be even more costly. Alternativley once it’s all over, we can take them Dudes (Gov & Bridger) and make a Tempura, deepfried without the sauce Tartare!

  4. a Broke Caymanian says:

    Maybe we can save a few dollars if we skip to the end and write him his settlement check now, without spending a bunch of money on a trial?

  5. spit observer says:

    I want ringside seats this should be good —  its about time the people of this country began to hear how this whole thing got started and what the SPIT was doing here besides enjoying our warm and friendly Caribbean hospitality. I hope Bridger’s doing the lottery back in the UK as he is going to need it when we present him with the invoice for this fiasco……

  6. Anonymous says:

    Leave him alone already PLEASE. Government has prosecuted him many times with little success. He outsmarted all from the Governor right on down. This whole fiasco has cost the Cayman Islands many millions of dollars, please lets just cut our losses and leave it at that.