Bridger pursues complaint re-Operation Tempura

| 13/01/2011

(CNS): The trials and tribulations following the UK’s Special Investigation Team (a.k.a. SPIT) and Operation Tempura are back in the news. A feature piece in today’s edition of the UK’s Financial Times reveals that the story is not over. Martin Bridger (left), the Senior Investigating Officer and head of SPIT, who was driven out after the entire operation was discredited (but not after it had cost Cayman millions of dollars), is pursuing an official complaint against the FCO and the Governor’s Office. The UK paper reveals that the current governor has asked a London-based QC for advice on how to handle the complaints and Benjamin Aina reportedly gave Duncan Taylor a report on the matter just before Christmas. (Photo from the UK’s Daily Mail)

Last year UK barrister Martin Polaine, who was the anti-corruption legal expert that advised Bridger during Operation Tempura, was disbarred from the profession as a result of his involvement in the case which had led to the unlawful arrest of Justice Alex Henderson. He told CNS in November that he had dropped the complaint he had made to the Foreign and Commonwealth and the Governor’s Office against “those who behaved in certain ways in relation to Operation Tempura” as he had lost faith and trust in the enquiries.

Polaine said he had no confidence in Aina but when pressed would not reveal the details of the complaint or why he was no longer pursuing it. “It would be inappropriate of me to go into detail at this stage. I can simply say that my complaint related to sections of the judiciary, to the Attorney General’s Chambers andthe FCO. Given that Mr Aina’s enquiries may be continuing, notwithstanding my withdrawal, I am unable to say any more at the moment,” he told CNS.

“‘I stand by what I have told them, but can go on as a complainant no longer. My life has been ruined, even though I was acting in good faith at all times and was simply seeking to conduct myself professionally and properly. I now know that I have been beaten,” the former attorney added.

Bridger, however, appears not to have been beaten and is continuing to pursue the complaint which had originally been made by both men.

According to the FT, which says it has Aina’s report, Bridger and Polaine complain that the chief justice, who had made an earlier ruling in the case, spoke to Justice Henderson outside the courtroom about his relationship with John Evans, the former Net News journalist involved in the issues, which triggered the arrival of SPIT in Cayman. They also say the chief justice went to see Henderson at the police station after his detention and, without notifying the arresting officers, spoke to him in a private room.

In a February 2008 judgment, the chief justice said he did not think he should recuse himself from the case over perceived bias but had said the Tempura investigators were free to challenge his decision.

Polaine and Bridger question the role of Sir Peter Cressell, the former UK judge who presided over Henderson’s judicial review and was later appointed to the Cayman Financial Court. Polaine claims Sir Peter made findings of bad faith without supporting evidence and questions why the judge met with Anthony Smellie after arriving on the islands to hear the review. Cresswell maintains that he remained independent throughout and kept a distance from those involved.

The complaint also questions the role of Larry Covington (raised here in Cayman on a number of occasions without receiving answers) a Foreign Office law enforcement adviser whose part in the Operation Tempura fiasco has never been fully explained. Stuart Kernohan, the former police commissioner who was sacked during the investigation, had reportedly told Covington about the Cayman Net News office search. The FT further reveals that it too failed to get any further on the question of Covington as he referred the paper to the FCO press office, which did not comment.

The complaint dossier includes the issue of the allegations which were later supposedly examined under Operation Cealt by the temporary police commissioner, James Smith. Polaine states in the complaint, “Many of those who came forward said they had been waiting for years to have sufficient confidence in a team who seemed serious about tackling corruption.”

However, given the various revelations about its conduct, the question that emerged later about SPIT was whether the members were ever serious about tacking anything other than enjoying a jolly in the Caribbean at the local tax payers’ expense.

The alleged hours and hours of taped interview, which Bridger had said documented complaints about corruption and misconduct in the police and elsewhere, have never seen the light of day. The outcome of Operation Cealt, which was taken over by the current commissioner after Smith left, has never been revealed. John Evans has claimed that many of the complaints were questionable and had come from Desmond Seales, the Net News editor at the heart of the entire investigation, whom Evans suggests Bridger trusted throughout. Other sources close to the investigation have told CNS that the complaints made about corruption in the RCIPS had more to do with incompetence.

Bridger, it appears, has not given up on Operation Tempura and is implying that, rather than unravelling as a result of SPIT’s incompetence and a lack of evidence, the investigation was deliberately blocked. The impact of the fallout from SPIT was nowhere near as damaging for Bridger as it was for his colleague Polaine, who wasstruck off as a result of his involvement.

The former UK cop faired far better. He retired from the Metropolitan Police Service during his time here in the Cayman Islands and took up a consultancy post with the CIG as SIO of SPIT. According to an auditor general’s report, he earned more than $500,000 in salary, benefits and expenses, paid for by the Cayman tax-payer.

View  FT Article here

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Who really believes any significant information on THE Larry Covington would be available on Google. Do you think MI6 are a bunch of novices? 

  2. Anonymous says:

    John Evan’s memory is very selective in this entire affair and he continues to present himself as some ‘undercover’ operative in a legal operation carried out by the RCIPS under Stuart Kernohan’s orders.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    What John Evans was and still is, in my opinion, was a disgruntled, meddlesome and insubordinate employee of a newspaper editor who gave him a job and was ‘spat in the face’ in return.

    John Evans paintshimself as even bigger than the moral and actual authority of then Governor Stuart Jack, who ordered Operation Tempura because…

    In Jack’s opinion Stuart  had broken the law, as a British law-enforcement officer, in ordering an ‘illegal break-in’ into a newspaper’s office and that these actions threatened the rights of freedom of the press.

    The allegations of corrupt relationships between a Deputy Commissioner of the RCIPS  and the newspaper editor was just a smokescreen created for the real reason of ‘silencing’ or ‘censuring’ the newspaper, which, by its own admission, had ill-advisedly printed slanderous and libelous letters that were highly critical of Cayman’s judiciary.

    That some of those allegations in those letters proved quite true and accurate, resulting in the removal of the judge in question, did not absolve the newspaper of its responsibility…….

    But, breaking into the newspaper’s offices was a crime, pure and simple.

    Stuart Jack dealt with the situation the only was possible, seeing that any human rights statutes violations could not be pursued in the the courts of the Cayman Islands.



    • Anonymous says:

      Just one point you missed – the disclosure that Net News had a ‘mole’ in the RCIPS came from Desmond Seales himself, not John Evans or Lyndon Martin.

      You need to check the records before accusing anyone of having selective memory because your comments are, based the available documents, a mixture of half-truths and rumours.

      • Anonymous says:

        Perhaps you should read the Auditor General’s report. It was McKeeva who told Kernohan that the "bald one" was leaking info.

  3. Anonymous says:

    All of the big players in this matter are freemasons, and whatever has been uncovered will remain hidden from John Public.

    Unfortunately, the efforts to cover up the matter (protect the guilty) will continue to cast doubt on the integrity of the Cayman Judicial system and the RCIP, and Cayman will continue to pay thousands, if not millions, for the legal action that will be brought against the country.

    The first sign of a cover-up was when the previous Governor allowed the former Commissioner of Police to leave (forever).

    Yours truly,


    A Former Freemason


    • Anonymous says:

      There is no such thing as a Former Freemason.

      If you want to attribute everything you don’t understand to some devious plot by the Freemasons then go ahead, but please don’t pretend that you were ever a member of ANY ancient institution or society of men (or women) who prize honour and virtue above the external appearances of rank and fortune.

  4. Dennie Warren Jr. says:

    Mr. Larry Covington is the man residents NEED to learn more about.

  5. John Evans says:

    It’s a pity the FT were so keen on cobbling together a Cayman Islands story they failed to contact me – it would have saved them a lot of embarrassment.

    There are too many issues (including potential libel in some of the allegations) in the story for me do a ‘blow by blow’ reply but I’m happy to deal with a few of them.

    My involvement in the Levers tribunal was limited to the issue of letters allegedly written to Cayman Net News. I believed that those letters had not been written by Justice Levers but had come from a source within the company and, after the two principal suspects contradicted each other, both sides of the tribunal backed me.

    The ‘blog by Mr Evans’ was actually postings on the late-lamented

    Martin Bridger’s ‘achievements’ included a well-documented raid involving 250 officers, 100 of them allegedly carrying firearms, on a squat in Lambeth. To obtain the warrant for that raid he claimed that extensive surveillance had revealed that the property, a Rastafarian Church, was being used to sell deal drugs and that there were firearms on the premises. The raid arrested a handful of suspects but failed to confirm the grounds for the warrant (sounds familiar?). The Courts subsequently awarded damages against the Met whose officers had ‘trashed’ the building in their fruitless search for weapons and drugs. Mr Bridger left Lamberth shortly afterwards, whether the move was planned is not clear but we all know where he ended up.

    The allegations that I was trying to find the Levers’ letters during the 3 September search in response to any specific request are false and that fact is well recorded. I had expressed concern to the publisher about the letters and responded to external concerns about them. In the normal course of events similar allegations would have been investigated before anything was published – that never happened, raising some very real concerns that they were simply malicious. I also established that they were being published, in clear breach of a Net News policy, under false names but that was ignored so I continued my own investigations into the possible source.

    This isn’t the first time Polaine has challenged Sir Peter Cresswell’s credibilty. However, Mr Polaine himself has a few questions to answer. Not least of which is why he continues to claim that his career has been ruined by Operation Tempura? He was disbarred after admitting wrongdoing and is still, according to their website, a director of Amicus Legal Consultants. In fact he is a lucky man, having kept his job and never faced the full consequences of his actions, which could conceivably have earned him time in Northward Prison.

    In particular, Polaine’s allegations against Larry Covington simply serve to show how little he knows about Operation Tempura and the search that I conducted on 3 September. I have an official copy of an email from John Yates, now head of anti-terrorism for the Met, dated 4 September 2007 and sent at 11:40am UK time (that’s 5am in Cayman), responding to a request for assistance from Mr Covington dated 30 August – in other words Mr Polaine’s friends at the Met knew exactly what was going on long before I entered the office and apparently waited until after the search was conducted before agreeing to become involved.

    This whole Bridger/Polaine complaint is malicious rubbish and a futile attempt to rescue fatally damaged reputations. Both Martin Bridger and his deputy, Richard Coy, are still the subject of on-going complaints to the RCIPS PSU about their conduct. Bridger apparently also faces civil action and I am still awaiting settlement of an expenses claim made on the basis of his subsequently retracted assurances. Polaine put his hands up to breaking the rules and took the consequences, he’s an adult who presumably knew what he was doing so it’s no good him screaming about it now.

    We have to remember that Operations Tempura and Cealt did nothing to improve the lot of the people of the Cayman Islands and took CIG for a lot of money, including Martin Polaine’s presumably unrefunded fees, that could have been put to better use. I’m sure that the total cost of the two operations and the two court cases would have comfortably funded the urgently needed crime lab that the RCIPS have been promising to create for more than four years now.

    Bottom line – the only people who benefited from the two operations are those who milked the government funding to the limit then f***ed off leaving a mess that rivals Mt Trashmore behind them and now they are bitching about the way they were treated?

    • Arvinder Sambei says:

      Mr Evans, for the last few years I have had the frustration to read a stream of nonsense and misinformation from you and others. Let me, therefore, highlight just how misguided you are on the latest issues you raise. First, though, I have to say that you are extremely fortunate that you were not treated as a suspect, rather than a witness, in the Tempura investigation.

      I am Martin Polaine’s co-director at Amicus and exceedingly proud to be associated with him. Moreover, I stand by every decision he made.

      You clearly think any challenge to judicial competence deserves the sort of sanction suffered by Martin. You know nothing about Martin’s character or career, so how dare you pass any judgment on him. Whether Martin remains a director of Amicus Legal Consultants is of no concern to you. Do you not see that Martin’s talk of his career being ruined refers to his loss of professional status, to not being able to hold himself out as a lawyer, not to the question of whether he holds a directorship or not?

      Further, you have the gall to suggest that Martin Polaine took a hefty fee for the work; why don’t you ask for a full disclosure for that fee? You’ll find that the fee was at the rate at which development work is routinely charged. You might also care to know that much of Martin’s input was not even charged for. He did not even charge daily expenses at anything like the rate he ought to have done. Again, you’re welcome to confirm that with your own enquiries.

      Oh, let me ask you for a clarification: You seem to suggest that Scotland Yard, and John Yates in particular, knew of the 3rd September ‘entry’ and your ‘search’ in advance; is that really your position, or simply another attempt by you to create your own ‘reality’?  




      • I was there says:


        Martin Polaine wasn’t disbarred because of a "challenge to judicial competence", he was disbarred because:

        1. He held himself out as qualified to give legal advice in the Cayman Islands when he was not;

        2. He gave "legal" advice that there were grounds to believe a judge had committed an offence when there were no such grounds;

        3. He gave bad advice that there were grounds to arrest a judge when there were not;

        4. He gave bad advice that there were grounds to search the home and office of a judge when there were not;

        5. He gave bad advice as to the proper procedure for obtaining search warrants;

        6. He gave bad advice as to the proper standard for disclosure of evidence when obtaining search warrants;

        7. He engaged in conduct which was prejudicial to the administration of justice;

        8. He allowed knowingly himself to be misidentified as a qualified lawyer in the Cayman Islands;

        9. He engaged in conduct which was likely to diminish public confidence in the legal profession or the administration of justice or otherwise bring the legal profession into disrepute in that he expressed a personal opinion to the press that advice that he had given to the Cayman Islands authorities in relation to the arrest of a judge was correct, and by inference that the Judgment of Sir Peter Cresswell dated 29th October 2008 in the case of R v Ebanks ex p Henderson in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands was wrong; and

        10. He tried to practice Cayman law without proper or any insurance for professional negligence.

        … if you see where this is going.

        So stand by your friend, and associate yourself with every decision he made if you will, but know that by doing so you are actively making all the same mistakes he did.

        Further, we know all we need to know about the character ond career of Martin Polaine from his conviction of all of the above offences, and his consequential disbarrment.

        The fact that he didn’t charge for the advice he was giving suggests that he knew it had little value.  Lawyers who give good advice would normally charge a fair price for it.

        Let’s keep this real, Arvinder.

        • anonymous says:

          Arvinder, this person seems to make some good points here…  What have you got to say about that???  hmmm…

          • Anonymous says:

            And while you are at it……

            1. Did Mr Polaine decide to waive his fees before or after a formal request for payment was lodged with CIG? Can you give us the actual date the decision was made?

            2. Was his decision spontaneous or was it promoted by clear indications (I remember this being aired either in the LA or by an MLA) that the fees were not going to be paid anyway?

            3. Has he also refunded the cost of things like air fares and hotel rooms that would have been booked through and paid for up front by CIG?

      • Anonymous says:

        Amen i am getting tired too of hearing his tirade He and his accomplice had choices. they could say simply said no!

      • John Evans says:

        Me thinks you doth protest too much. Sounds like I’m hitting a few nerves.

        Before I respond can you clarify one point – is Martin Bridger working as a full-time consultant for Amicus or just part-time?

        I was going to email Mr Polaine with this question but as you choose to make it a public debate let’s have the answer here.

        • Arvinder Sambei says:

          Mr Evans,

          I’m very happy to answer your question: Martin Bridger undertook some part-time consultancy work for the company, but then, in December 2010, became a director.

          Perhaps you would now be good enough to answer the question of clarification I have sought.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Did the report say who allowed the CJ to allegedly visit Justice Henderson at the Police Station?

    • I was there says:

      If the CJ went to visit Alex, who cares? 

      When the banjo-plucking hill-billies go so far off-side that they start arresting innocent judges, you’d expect the Chief Justice of the Cayman Islands to have a look into the situation.

      • Anonymous says:

        He didnt go when they arrested other innocent persons – or is innocense judged pre-maturely for some.

      • Banjo plucking HillBilly says:

         I resent that association….

        • I was there says:

          Fair point.  I hereby apologize unreservedly to all the banjo-plucking hillbillys in the world whom I have truly offended by that improper allegation of affiliation with the members of Project SxIT (it really shouldn’t be a "P" in there).

  7. Anonymous says:

    Good luck to Mr Bridger, May the sun shine for him and the truth.

    • anon says:

      And while the sun is so shining, perhaps it can introduce the 2 for the first time.

  8. My2Cents says:

    Why is it CNS has to show Mr. Bridger in his shorts at the beach with a rubber ring taken from the UK’s Daily Mail?

    Whats wrong with showing a photo of him in uniform or a suit?

    It seems to me CNS is trying to suggest all he ever did was play on the beach whilst he was here, and never did any serious work to uncover any corruption (which of course never happens here).

    It seems CNS knows the power of suggestion that a photo can have, and is not above using it. Shame.

    • Anonymouse. says:

      They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The one used by CNS cost the Caymanian people ten million dollars. I see no problem with it being used but suspect you have a problem with it because of the story it tells.

      • David R. Legge says:

        Please, please, please don’t conclude that I’m defending Martin Bridger—in fact, I still represent former Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan—but it’s my understanding that the photo of him in the inner-tube was not taken in the Cayman Islands. I think it was the Daily Mail of London that first made the error associating the picture with Cayman when, in fact, it was snapped elsewhere (I believe Cuba).

        Not that this changes anything material. It’s just one of those things in publishing that gets repeated if it isn’t corrected. 

        • Anonymous9 says:

          Yes, but he most likely went there from here on a weekend. Same difference.

          Should he be allowed a day at a beach? Everyone needs stress relief. And that is an entertaining picture wherever it was taken.

          • Anonymous says:

            Have to agree, it is indeed a fantastic shot – maybe it could be used by the tourism ministry?

        • Anonymous says:

          Thank you MrLegge for being honest and even handed. Very unusual on this website.

        • Anonymous says:

          Who cares, it’s still a damn funny photo.

          What is interesting is where the Daily Mail pictures all came from.

          Some of the them (one was shot in the team’s offices) could only have been taken by a member of the team – dissent in the ranks maybe?.

  9. I was there says:

    While I am reluctant to see more money poured into this wasteland of legal idiocy, I have to think that since former barrister Martin Polaine now stands disbarred and forever disgraced, it seems just that Martin Bridger be similarly disgraced, ridiculed and shown up for the useless waste of skin that he is.  Perhaps this venue might work to that end. 

    Bridger is an embarrassment to the work of law enforcement, truly an embarrassment.