UK cop’s complaints defamatory says governor

| 04/05/2011

(CNS): The Governor’s Office has refused to release the details of why complaints made by Martin Bridger (left), the senior UK officer in a bungled corruption investigation, were dismissed because it says it would not only be a breach of confidence but it also contains defamatory material. Following an FOI request made by CNS, the office said that under section 54 of the Freedom of Information Law government does not have to release the documents. Despite the fact that Operation Tempura cost the Cayman taxpayer over $6 million, the full details of, or the motivation for, the parts played by local and UK officials, as well as Bridger’s complaint about why he thinks the investigation was halted, appear destined to remain a mystery.

An FOI request made in London to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the details of Bridger’s complaint by John Evans, a witness in one of the court cases relating to Operation Tempura, was also refused recently. Evans was told by the UK authorities that releasing the information would be likely to prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and the Cayman Islands.

Although the FCO said it recognized the general public interest in openness in public affairs and that disclosure of the information might lead to better informed debate on a subject of public interest, it still considered that the balance is weighted against disclosure. It also noted that revealing the details may impact Cayman’s reputation and affect the financial services sector.

“We judge that disclosure would be prejudicial to the effective conduct of international relations between the United Kingdom and the Cayman Islands which depends upon maintaining trust and confidence between the governments,” the FCO officials said in the letter. “If the United Kingdom does not maintain this trust and confidence, its ability to protect and promote UK interests through international relations will be hampered … disclosureof the information requested could lead to a loss of confidence within the international community which could impact negatively on the Cayman Islands’ reputation and, more directly, on its financial services industry.”

It said disclosure could also prejudice relations between the Cayman and UK governments, which could undermine the confidence of governors in all the overseas territories that information they report to the UK would be kept confidential. “This could lead to more circumspect reporting by Governors, which could in turn damage the United Kingdom’s ability to ensure the good governance of the Overseas Territories,” the FCO said as it refused the application.

The explanation given by the Governor’s Office to CNS was considerably less detailed and simply stated that the law does not authorize the disclosure of any information that would be a breach of confidence or any defamatory matter.

Some of the details of Bridger’s complaints were, however, exposed in the Financial Times. Bridger claimed the investigation had been deliberately blocked rather than discredited because of the lack of evidence or the incompetence of the officers involved in the special operation investigation team, which became known as SPIT.

The entire episode continues to generate considerable disquiet in the local community for different reasons. Many people see the investigation as nothing more than a Caribbean jolly for ex-Metropolitan police officers, who by clouding their investigation in official secrecy were able to run up huge salary and expense claims, which were all paid for by the public purse. Others say that there could have been genuine corruption but the investigation was stopped by people who did not want the details of the police or official wrongdoing to be revealed.

The repercussions of the investigation continue to impact the local community as it fuelled distrust for the police and in particular officers from the UK. It also had a negative impact on local officers and many say it led to a rise in local crime as the RCIPS turned inward and away from normal policing.

The cost to the public purse — which is not yet over — has also been significant, especially at a time when government revenue was hit by the global crisis. While the unlawful arrest of a Grand Court judge was settled in a damages payment of more than $1.2 million and Chief Superintendent John Jones was eventually returned to post after being on required leave on full pay for more than 18months, the situation regarding other police officers has still to be settled.

Deputy Commissioner Rudy Dixon, who still remains on ‘required leave’ has, according to official records, been paid over $300,000 since April 2008 when he was suspended, as well as pension payments of around $52,440.54. Dixon was arrested by SPIT and charged with perverting the course of justice, and although he was acquitted at trial in November 2009, he has still not been reinstated in his post.

Stuart Kernohan, the former police commissioner, was also suspended as part of the Operation Tempura investigation and eventually sacked by the former governor. Kernohan has since filed a civil claim against the Cayman government and Bridger, which has not yet been settled. Finally, Burman Scott, who was also arrested in connection with the charges relating to Dixon, filed a civil case alleging unlawful arrest and his claim has yet to be dealt with.

The Operation Tempura investigation began when accusations were made that Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis was leaking information to the editor in chief of Cayman Net News, the late Desmond Seales.

Martin Bridger claimed that he and one other officer from Scotland Yard, who originally came to investigate the matter at the request of the then governor Stuart Jack, soon discovered that Ennis was innocent. However, he said he and his colleague had uncovered other irregularities that needed to be investigated and expanded the team. The investigation remained undercover from September 2007 until March 2008 when three of the four senior RCIPS officers were suspended from their jobs

Following the unlawful arrest of a grand court judge, two other failed court room cases, more than $6 million of public funds spent and no real concrete evidence of corruption, the then PPM government insisted that Bridger leave the country. Despite an investigation that continued for more than a year, Bridger was never able to back up his continued claims to elected officials of “rampant corruption” in the police and judiciary and he eventually departed in April 2009.

Soon after, the RCIPS took over the investigation to examine the alleged reports of corruption collated by SPIT. Although some officers have since been quietly dismissed, few details of the investigation or corruption allegations have ever been revealed. 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    My question is where is the man who start all of this rubbish Mr Larry Covington the FCO Police advisor and agent provocateur, the governor was not even here.Our is it that Mr Covington is above the law “Diplomatic Immunity” given to you know who ????????????? I smell doodoo

  2. Anonymous says:

    If the governor is of the view that Bridger’s complaint is defamatory then it would be reasonable to sue Bridger for defamation. 

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Evans hid the nail squarely on its head. Why is Duncan Taylor following slavishly in Stuart Jack’s footsteps? Is this still being engineered by the British Government?

    This debacle was at great puiblic expense and it is Caymanians’ money who paid for it. Why then does he consider it inappropriate to release the information? Breach of whose confidence? Defamatory information on who?

    If they could blow the top off Watergate in the USA then blow the top off this one as well. And let the chips fall where they may! The truth must come out!

  4. Knal Domp says:

     Wends honey- I think you keep this Tempura thing on a little simmer just so you can keep publishing that most excellently stupid picture of Bridger in his swimming trunks and ring… its so, um, so Southend-On-Sea! One does not get much wider than that.

  5. Anonymous says:

    anybody for a motion of no confidence in the governor..who doesn’t govern…..?

  6. The lone haranguer says:

    That’s a great picture, man riding the wave and now looking for the jackpot money, whew the balls on that man !

  7. John Evans says:

    However hard HE the Governor and the FCO try to bury this it ain’t going to lie down quietly.

    Whilst Bridger went before MLAs making wild accusations about drug dealing and murder within the RCIPS some far more credible allegations (of which I have full details) were ignored. These included destruction of evidence in a DUI bust and fabrication of evidence by a senior officer in a Grand Court case, in both those cases former RCIPS officers were available as witnesses but the complaints were not investigated.

    The problem with Operations Tempura and Cealt is that there has been a heck of a lot of smoke but very little actual fire. Extensive research conducted in the UK now suggests that this is not the first (or the second, or the third………..!) time that those heading the investigations have exagerrated or distorted the importance of their work and the same set of names keeps coming up. If you take the role of ‘honour’ from Tempura it can be traced back to a number of questionable, but high profile, operations going back many years.

    My FOI request is now being reviewed on the grounds that the damage has already been done by the decision to release the complaint to the FT and their subsequant publication of libellous allegations against members of the CI judiciary. On that basis, under UK FOI law it is very unlikely that the original complaint will remain secret for much longer.

    In the meantime I have my own formal complaint filed through my Member of Parliament to the FCO over numerous aspects of Tempura and that, thanks to human rights legislation and the FCO’s decision to employ a QC to review the Polaine/Bridger complaint, cannot be ignored.

    What I do not understand is why the current governor is trying so hard to maintain a veil of secrecy that will inevitably be ripped apart by the media.

    In following this course he is, like his predecessor Stuart Jack, doing the Cayman Islands no favours and probably doing immeasurable damage to their reputation. 



    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

      Re: "veil of secrecy"

      It’s easier for the government, HE The Governor and FCO to manipulate the general public when they are empowered to hide the affairs of the people from them.

  8. Anonymous says:

    As I see it the only way the information could jeopardize our financial service industry is if it reaches into the highest level of our government.  It is funny that the only one that comes out of this innocent is Anthony who was first accused. 

  9. Michel Lemay says:

    Defamatory material ! you think ? I do believe it was at least that, if not more. Comedy Central at our costs. I had nearly forgot of Operation Tempura (sushi) I imagine if only we were to really know ? I guess certain things are better left left alone. Might open a BIG can of worrms at interesting level. Mr. Dixon and Mr. Burmon Scott how embarassing it must have been for you and propably still is as nothing was resolved yet ! I could be wrong but you both need a public apology to at least move on . Mr. Bridger you are a big disgrace and should never be employed in her Majestys Service in any capacity and those of you who were part of this load of nothingness. The picture really suit you.

    • Anonymous says:

       Why is it seems that some of the Big shots ( big because yes they have cost the taxpayers BIG MONey ) think they should be exempt from scrutiny and exposed?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Obviously another matter that is not within the Governor’s “area of responsibility”.