Bridger’s complaint dismissal remains a secret

| 16/03/2011

(CNS): Complaints made by the senior officer in Operation Tempura, a discredited undercover police operation that took place in the Cayman Islands through 2008/09, have been dismissed by the Cayman Islands governor. However, the reasons why will remain under wraps, Duncan Taylor said on Tuesday. Martin Bridger, the leader of the special police investigation team (SPIT) that came to Cayman to investigate corruption in the RCIPS complained to the UK Foreign Office that his investigation was deliberately blocked. Today Taylor revealed that he had rejected “all aspects of the complaint” but his reasons will not be made public. He said he had revealed his decision to Bridger, who has reportedly also agreed not to reveal the reasons for the governor’s move.

“I have provided detailed written reasons for my decision to the complainant, Mr Bridger,” Taylor stated in a release on Tuesday morning. “Because of the sensitivity of some of the material in the written reasons I do not propose to make these public; in the circumstances, at my request, Mr Bridger has signed a confidentiality agreement in which he undertakes not to share the reasons with any other person except his legal representative.”

The governor first received the details of the former UK cop’s complaint from the FCO just before Christmas and he stated then that he did not think the complaints against the judiciary were valid and had rejected those. He said he would be taking legal advice about other aspects regarding Bridger’s claims about Operation Tempura before making any more decisions.

“I have now concluded my consideration of that complaint and the legal advice I have received in relation to it. I have dismissed all aspects of the complaint,” Taylor stated.

Bridger left Cayman after the fumbled investigation failed to secure a single conviction or any evidence of corruption and ended in a $1.2 milllion pay-out from the Cayman public purse to Grand Court judge Alex Henderson as a result of hisunlawful arrest.

However, on his return to the UK Bridger, along with Martin Polaine, who worked as the legal adviser to SPIT and who was later debarred as a result of his role in Operation Tempura, lodged a number of complaints about the local judiciary with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. A report in the Financial Times in January revealed that the former UK cop, who had been a member of the Metropolitan Police Service in London, had accused the Cayman Islands judiciary, including the chief justice, of inappropriate actions. He also questioned the role of Sir Peter Cresswell, the former UK judge who presided over Henderson’s judicial review and was later appointed to the Cayman Financial Court.

Bridger and Polaine had claimed that Sir Peter made findings of bad faith without supporting evidence and questions why the judge met with Chief Justice 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.

When Polaine dropped out of the complaint, Bridger pursued the grievance and also questioned the role of Larry Covington, 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, which was the start of the SPIT episode.

The complaint dossier included allegations, which were later supposedly examined under Operation Cealt by the temporary police commissioner, James Smith, which Bridger claims were allegations of local police corruption that were not followed up on. The alleged hours and hours of taped interview, which Bridger had said documented complaints about corruption and misconduct in the police and elsewhere, have still not been made public. The outcome of Operation Cealt, which was taken over by the current commissioner after Smith left, has never been revealed.

In his complaint Bridger had reportedly implied that, rather than unravelling as a result of SPIT’s incompetence and a lack of evidence, the investigation was deliberately blocked.

The full story of Operation Tempura and SPIT, which began in September 2007, has still not been told. What is widely known, however, is that the investigation cost the Cayman public purse more than $6 million and according to an auditor general’s report, Bridger was paid more than $500,000 in salary, benefits and expenses during his time here.

See FT report here

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Comments (15)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Other than the member from Northside not a single question from the restof our well paid Politicos about this outrageous situation. The Caymanians have been dealt with disgracefully and the people that put this nasty little investigation in place appear not only to be above the law but accountable to no one. Government those in society not bound by Law

  2. O tricks says:

     If it was all a farce whats with this secrecy and not disclosing information that would indicate that it uncovered damaging information which is obviously factual ,why else would they keep it confidential.someone is protecting someone that is abundantly clear come now Mr Covington reveal yourself and your true purpose in the OT’s

  3. Anonymous says:

    “If you shut up the truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.”

    – French author Emile Zola

  4. George Smiley says:

    There is something odd about all the “confidentiality” and “sensitivity” surrounding this whole affair. It’s interesting to see that Bridger has agreed to keep quiet. I wonder what induced him to agree to that.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s very reassuring to be told by the Governor that our Police and Judiciary are beyond reproach.

  6. John Evans says:

    The report needs to be made public to put an end to this farce and kill off some of the rumours I heard circulating while on Grand Cayman in February.

    One of the reasons that Bridger probably complained is that his attempts to extend the remit of Operation Tempura outside the RCIPS were blocked. In addition to the people named in this story, some of his targets are alleged to have been the current Premier and members of the previous government.

    He apparently picked up a number of serious allegations, many from my former employer or from sources close to him, that gave hope that he could extend Tempura pretty much indefinitely. Which, at £787 a day (more that many people here earn in a month!) plus all the other perks of the job, must have been a very tempting option.

    The problem is that the allegations were nothing but Marl Road gossip on which the teams spent months, at no inconsiderable cost to the Cayman Islands, but produced nothing. I remember during one meeting he was very excited about what they were turning up and refused to listen to any advice that he should treat at least one of his sources with great caution. I think he saw Cayman as a chance to rebuild his career after what I suspect, based on comments he made at the time, was an unplanned retirement from the Met.

    Quite why Bridger pursued the complaint is a bit of a mystery. It’s done nothing to help him and has in turn prompted further complaints, currently working their way through the FCO, about his conduct and his conections with the people he employed.

    As they say, “watch this space,” because this ain’t over yet.

    • Fred says:

      You want a report to kill off rumours yet you are circulating rumours yourself…. Mr Bridger was tasked with an impossible job – the rot of corruption is a way of life in Cayman. It will need a much bigger team to expose and deal with it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Surprisingly nothing of the Tempura affair is specifically mentioned on the Sambei, Bridger, & Polaine website. Could it be that the film rights are being negotiated?

    • Anonymous says:

      During that investigation some of our Caymanians was accused. A very good Cayman Brac Police Burmon Scott was put in Prison innocently as was rumoured. What compensation did he get? I havent heard of anything. On the other hand Mr Henderson was well compensated and left the Island, poor Burmon is still here with that stigma . What a shame, the poor Caymanian.

      CNS Note: Justice Alex Henderson is a sitting judge in the Grand Cayman court and has not left the islands.

      • Concerned Caymanian says:

        Mr Henderson has not left the Island. He is still a sitting member of the judiciary. And what you call “well compensated” was a drop in the bucket of what he could have received for the damage to his reputation internationally.

        • Anonymous says:

          I AM NOT AGAINST mR HENDERSON getting compensated, however I do think that Burmon being a good human being should be compensated likewise. After all we dont know what hes been through being locked down in that cell, we can only imagine. I will then say it like this what is good for the geese is good for the gander. On another note I did not know that Judge Henderson was still on the Island and working, but I am pleasantly happy to learn this because I have only heard good report of him Applogies for that error. I do hope that both he and Burmon will be healed from all their trauma.

          • Anonymous says:

            I never heard nor read of Burmon being compensated $7000. Thats ridiculous, it could never be true. What the hell is going on in this little Country. This will always be thrown at Burmon and his family as the most of us just love to ruin reputations and will even make ourselves believe it. We would like to know if this ridicilous figure is correct. It would have make sense for him to have employ a lawyer , as this little tip would make it seem as if he did not have one. He certainly have enough music fans around who would have retained a lawyer for him.

        • Say What??????? says:

          So you’re saying he probably would be a millionaire today if he had spent time in jail? Boy, I broke and need some money to buy one new Honda Accord I see by Car City today so unna come arrest me tonight and put me in one lil office by the police station for a few hours nah? Didn’t Burmon Scott have a reputation too? In case you don’t know, he’s a well respected man in these islands who has served his country well and there’s nothing corrupt about him for no one to refer to. What was done to him was a wicked act and if it was Rudolph Dixon they were targeting in the first place, shame on everyone who played a role in ruining Burmon’s Scott’s life and REPUTATIONin order to deal with Dixon!!!!

      • Way Back When says:

        I guess the thumbs down for these comments must be from a bunch of haters, not surprisingly. However, it was a fact that Mr. Scott spent two days in jail for simply following the orders of his senior officer and for this, he will have to live the rest of his life with the scar left behind by this ordeal. And as for what compensation he received? A disgraceful amount of CI$7,000.00!! But, knowing Mr. Scott as well as I do for many years, he’s not the type of person to run down a big payout knowing this will have to come from the pockets of his own Caymanian people. Although, he’s only human and I’m sure he would’ve liked to have been treated more fairly, I would like to take this opportunity to say to him, Mr. Scott, hold your head up, stay strong and don’t let your enemies here and abroad prevail and always remember that no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall condemn. May God continue to bless you and your family.