Lawyers try to keep lid on FOI court case

| 30/10/2013

(CNS): The battle between the governor’s office and the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) over the publication of a report regarding the ill-fated internal police investigation, Operation Tempura, moves into the courts today but lawyers are fighting to keep the public away. The legal team representing the governor will apply for the judicial review of Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert’s decision, which ordered the office to release the report, to be behind closed doors. The costly ongoing battle, triggered by the refusal by former governor Duncan Taylor to release the contentious document, is being continued by Helen Kilpatrick, the new governor, who hopes the court will help the UK keep a lid on what is believed to be an embarrassing record of what happened surrounding the bungled police probe.

This is also the first legal challenge that Dilbert has faced regarding any of her decisions. While other authorities have contemplated pursuing their legal right to have the commissioner’s decisions reviewed by a judge, the governor’s officer, ironically given its position on good governance and transparency, is the first to go all the way to the courtroom.

The document in question is the report of an investigation which was carried out into the entire police operation after the lead investigator, Martin Bridger, filed a complaint about how the probe was handled.

The ongoing saga of Operation Tempura, which had a terrible impact on the morale of the RCIPS, was built on the alleged mistaken belief of two reporters at a local media house, Cayman Net News, that RCIPS Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis was leaking vital police information to the paper’s publisher, the late Desmond Seales.

The twists and turns of the investigation, which found within weeks that Ennis was not leaking information, went off on a tangent that led to the downfall of senior police officers and saw a high court judge unlawfully arrested and awarded significant damages from the public purse. The result was a catalogue of failed criminal cases relating to the probe and a number of law suits, some of which resulted in costly settlements. Others are ongoing and civil suits between Bridger and the Cayman authorities and former police commissioner Stuart Kernohan continue to drain the already cash strapped public purse some six years after the original covert operation first began.

While most of the details, allegations, counter allegations and other issues relating to the bungled investigation have found their way into the public domain, the governor’s office, at what appears to be the request of the Foreign Office in London, is continuing its bid to try and keep a lid on this document as it could be embarrassing.

Allegations regarding the probe now focus on both former governor Stuart Jack, who held the post at the time and ordered the probe, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin and the UK’s overseas territories security advisor, Larry Covington, and exactly how much they knew about Kernohan’s plans to use the newspaper’s reporters to get into Seales’ office to look for evidence of the suspected leaks.

Kernohan has always insisted that all three of his superiors knew and were fully briefed on his plans, a point that none of the men saw fit to tell Bridger, who embarked on an enquiry based on the false premise that Kernohan and one of his senior police officers, John Jones, had organized and authorized an unlawful entry into the Net News offices.

Operation Tempura has already cost the public purse millions of dollars and caused embarrassment to many people who were sucked into the probe. Efforts by Duncan Taylor and now Kilpatrick to keep a lid on more potential embarrassment continues to be a costly exercise that, given how muchof the report has been leaked, appears to be increasingly futile.

The hearing is set for two days in Court 5. Arguments to keep the case closed were scheduled to begin at 10am Wednesday.

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  1. Knot S Smart says:

    I just realized that I must be British because I did the same exact thing with my last ex-wife

    i.e. told her about my activities only on a 'need to know' basis…

    And I strongly believed that she did not 'need to know' where I was at nights…

  2. Anonymous says:

    National interests come before local interests.  If you do not like that then independence is all yours.

    • Anonymous says:

      More like, covering up ineptitude comes before tranparency!

    • Anonymous says:

      You are all for transparency, accountability and good governance so long as it is the locals who are in view but not if its fellow Brits. Hypocrite. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Not hypocritical at all.  Mere local government needs to be transparent.  National governance sometimes requires different considerations. 

  3. Anonymous says:

    So the UK wants to hide it’s shit.

    That’s a good Master.

    • Anonymous says:

      06.35…oh that why we can get no decent reports and accounts out of the Caymanian run CS and CIG? Transparency is nothing that any Caymanian can write about on here until it sorts its own shit out. Always easier to have a go at someone else rather than deal with your own problems. I would also bet a $100 that if this did come out it will be Cayman that is harmed, not the UK

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds and looks like all the sh^t is on this side of the pond.

  4. Anonymous says:

    At the end of the day, Ms. Kilpatrick, it was the people of these islands that paid the bill for the utter incompetence of the Crown. I think they have a right to know where their money was spent, don't you?

    You have a great opportunity here to endear yourself to the people that you are supposed to be governing. It was not your fault what happened under previous watches, so what is the problem with getting a little transparency in here?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Doesn't seem like there's much "Freedom" here does it?

  6. Who the Cap Fits says:

    THey keeo fighting to keep us abay, but JUstice for the people must prevail.  I implore the courts to provide a ruling on the relese of this report as it will once and for all let the people, understand what MOther thinks of them.

    • Anonymous says:

      15.14..based on how you write, I am not sure I want you to be judging anything

  7. John Evans says:

    CNS that report makes some excellent observations about Tempura, which are much appreciated.

    However, please be careful not to confuse the two separate complaints filed by former members of the Tempura team.

    This hearing is about my FOI request for release of the 2010 Aina report. This was the official response to a complaint originally filed by Martin Polaine but eventually pursued by the former Senior Investigating Officer, Martin Bridger. The complaint made serious allegations against a number of members of the judiciary and has never, despite numerous requests to the authors, been made public. Aina’s report has also been kept secret by the FCO.

    Although the official grounds for refusing to release the documents has been that the contents are defamatory it is now believed the true reason relates to the way in which the contents would show just how far Tempura’s investigations strayed outside the bounds of legality and also the way in which a substantial amount of the material obtained had been unlawfully removed from the Cayman Islands without the FCO realising it.

    The complaint mentioned at the end this story was filed by Martin Bridger this year. At the time of writing he has ignored several requests from Commissioner Baines to back up his allegations with facts and that complaint, which I regard as malicious nonsense, is effectively dormant.

  8. of Rocks and Hard Places says:

    This is indicative of the heaving and groaning cracks in the relationship between the Cayman Islands and the Crown. We, the people of the Cayman Islands, deserve to know what happened in this one of all too many fiascos. It is to the eternal detriment of said relationship that Governor Helen Kilpatrick would continue to hide the truth from the very people who have had to add this to the long list of mishandled, and worse, public monies. Our constitution, which is an incomplete document in the most favourable of views, explicitly states that the interests of the Cayman Islands will always be overshadowed by the interests of the Crown. This is not acceptable. How is any right thinking person of this country supposed to accept this blatant inadequacy and it's overwhelmingly threatening potential? XXXX

    We also see the increasingly incongruous and unacceptable actions of the FCO to hide the truth from those whose own monies have been used fruitlessly in this fiasco. XXX we, the people of the Cayman Islands must demand to know the full truth. We know the concept of from frying pan to fire all too well XXX.

    XXX Could it be that the FCO and the Crown is posturing itself in advance of a push for independance through a purpoeseful yet underhanded weakening of the Cayman Islands? The similarities here to what happened in Jamaica pre and post independance are telling and concerning to anyone with their eyes open. Just tell the truth, for those who hide it do so with no semblance of integrity whatsoever. This rings true no matter who or what they are and the Cayman Islands must unequivocally demand that the truth be known, come what may..

    • Anonymous says:

      This ************* have nothing to do with, "Independance"

      it's just about hiding the incompetence of some very lofty officials an their inability to make sound decisions when under pressure!!!!!!

      • of Rocks and Hard Places says:

        I am not allowed, because of the rabid army of lawyers who protect from any real consequence those who have abused the Cayman Islands precisely because they have so much money to keep justice at bay, to show where the signs of that which I have spoken of are all about. Suffice it to say, however, that in recent history what has been happening here in Cayman has shown a decided lack of representation for and of the people of the Cayman Islands by the Crown.

        Furthermore, the reason that a certain politician XXXX was not reigned in until said individual embarassed the Crown diplomatically on an international scale whereupon they had to smooth the roughened waters regarding a certain port of entry was not undertaken as a necessity until it directly affected their own interests on said international scale.

        Secondly, it is as obvious as daylight that the (universally recognized as detrimental) monopolization of the economy by a single source, XXXX have not been even remotely adequately adressed by the Crown.

        Thirdly, the disparity of law enforcement in the Cayman Islands has been nothing short of egregious in the extreme and it points to a hidden yet all too real agenda which has manifested itself by way of localized consequence and upheaval.

        The history of Jamaica shows the very real clue as to what is going on here and, far from the usual wording of "incompetence" I say that what has been going on in Cayman from all spheres of influence and powers that be have little to do with said incompetence and more to do with sabotage, the proverbial "letting loose of dogs" and a purposeful incompetence at all levels when it comes to the good governance of the Cayman Islands.

        The question of "from frying pan to fire" is all to real considering the players on the political stage in the Cayman Islands be they in the LA or otherwise.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don't blame the new governor personally on this. She walked in to a situation where the FCO has committed the Governor's Office, their Cayman office, to the case. She's just stuck with the bag of cat.

      • of Rocks and Hard Places says:

        If you cannot stand the heat then get out of the kitchen, and if one continues to serve a poisonous stew irregardless of wether or not one cooked it themself then one should not be surprised if it is refused. I do hope that Governor Helen Kilpatrick does what is right and lets the truth be known to all and sundry, for anything less is and shall remain unacceptable. With great power comes great responsibility.

    • Jonas Dwyer says:

      You could have something there, you never know how the Tea pot pours until it pours.

    • Anonymous says:

      The British have 350 years experience of covering up and lack of transparency and accountabiity.

      This is true not only in the colonies but also in their own country. If you consider the trillions that flowed from the colonies back to England, you will upon reflection quickly come to the conclusion virtually none went to help the working classes of the country. It was absorbed by the elite and there it stayed.Realize therefore, that they do not give a damm about the Cayman Islands for all their talk of good governance.