Tempura boss banned from using secret records

| 18/11/2013

(CNS): The London police officer in charge of the ill-fated internal police probe into potential corruption in the RCIPS between 2007 and 2009 has been told by a Grand Court judge that he should not have secret documents in his possession and that he cannot use them in his defence of a law suit by a former commissioner of police. Martin Bridger, the senior investigating officer of the controversial and costly Operation Tempura, has hundreds of records relating to the probe, which, among many other issues, resulted in the sacking of Stuart Kernohan, the RCIPS CoP at the time. Bridger is facing a law suit filed by Kernohan, who says he was unlawfully dismissed, and the Tempura SIO was hoping to use the documents to show he was not culpable.

However, in the latest instalment in the ongoing saga relating to the bungled investigation, which has plagued the RCIPS, other local authorities, as well as Scotland Yard and the FCO for the last six years, Justice Richard Williams has ruled that Bridger cannot use any of the material he has because it is not his to use. The judge also questioned whether he should even have the documents in his possession, although some were released to him by the Attorney General’s Chambers in order to help with his defence against Kernohan.

The ruling, which has been partially redacted (but posted below), follows an injunction sought by Attorney General Samuel Bulgin to keep more elements of the story from public view. The AG claims that all of the documents in question are protected by legal privilege, which is held by his chambers and not Bridger. Therefore, that privilege was not Bridger’s to waive.

Bridger’s lawyer had argued that the government should not be allowed to hide behind the potential embarrassment authorities would suffer by the exposure of the documents. This, he argued, would stifle Bridger’s ability to properly and fairly defend himself against the claims of misfeasance brought by Kernohan. He also argued that there is a wider public interest and these documents should no longer be cloaked in secrecy.

Bridger has already indicated that some of these documents demonstrate that both the Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, former governor Stuart Jack and the overseas territory security advisor, Larry Covington, were all aware that Kernohan, as the head of the local police service, was planning a covert entry into the offices of a local newspaper, using the services of two of the reporters who worked there to look for evidence of corruption.

Bridger claims that this alleged unlawful entry was the basis on which the discredited Operation Tempura emerged after he had quickly discovered that allegations that Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis was disclosing police secrets to the late Desmond Seales, the proprietor of Cayman Net News, were unfounded.

Bridger maintians that if he had known that Kernohan’s plan to use the reporters to snoop around Seales' office had been approved by his superiors, the operation, which has cost more than $10 million, would never have happened.

However, the judge ruled that all of the documents that Bridger wants to use, which had been the subject of the injunction, cannot be disclosed, agreeing with the AG that the privilege to disclose the documents was not Bridger’s to waive.

Questions were also raised in the judgment about why Bridger had taken documents with him when he left the post as head of the investigation and that documents given to him by the AG’s chambers to help him in the Kernohan defence could not be shown to Kernohan or his lawyers.

The ruling will prevent Bridger from legally exposing the evidence that he maintains shows he conducted himself properly throughout the enquiry.

The people of Cayman, who paid for the investigation, will also still be kept in the dark about what appears to be a catalogue of bungles by everyone involved in the Tempura fiasco.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What I fail to understand is why so much money is being wasted treating this as a civil matter when it appears to be nothing more than simple theft.

    As a former member of the Met's now discredited CIB3 anti-corruption unit during the 1990s Mr Bridger can't exactly claim to be unaware of the fact that you don't just walk out of the office with a large quantity of highly sensitive, confidential documents and take them home. In fact one of CIB's roles involved investigating unauthorised use of official documents and, if necessary, recovering them from officer's homes using search warrants.

    Based on previous stories and a couple FOI releases that are in circulation at least some of these documents appear to have been signed out to the Metropolitan Police in London but were never handed over to them. Again, is this not just simple theft?

    We read a lot of excuses from Mr Bridger, the latest being that this material has suddenly become vital to his defence of Stuart Kernohan's claim, but with his background he must have known all along that he was in the wrong. Or is that being too simplistic?          



  2. Marginally Concerned says:

    What has happened to Whodatis?

    Silent for some time now. Has he been rolled over or something?

  3. John Evans says:

    Quote – “Bridger maintains that if he had known that Kernohan’s plan to use the reporters to snoop around Seales' office had been approved by his superiors, the operation, which has cost more than $10 million, would never have happened.”

    I find that very hard to believe considering the fact that his deputy, Simon Ashwin (who is currently a Detective Superintendent with the Met), made it very clear to me early on in the operation that they were interested in conducting a much wider investigation and had been cleared to move outside the original Ennis/Seales allegations.

    In fact those allegations had effectivelybeen killed off in November/December 2007 after the team, with my help, discredited all the evidence that might have supported them.

    Despite that we know from material released to me under FOI that Bridger’s transition from a serving Met officer to a private contractor was arranged in London in February 2008, over a month before Tempura went public and two months before he actually retired, so it’s clear at this point that Tempura had no plans to leave the Cayman Islands and had settled in for the long haul.

    It was also my use of FOI that revealed the disappearance of all the Tempura documentation that Bridger has now been forced to admit possession of.

    Whether he originally intended to use this in connection with his defence of Kernohan’s claim or had planned to use it for other purposes is a matter open to speculation.

    What is not open to debate, as this ruling clearly shows, is that the material was not his to own or use and that is something I hope the Attorney General, Commissioner Baines and the Governor are currently reviewing.

    • Anonymous says:

      wikileaks anyone???

    • Anonymous says:

      John, considering Bridger's track record with the Met as detailed in 'The Untouchables' written by Michael Gillard and Laurie Flynn wasn't it a mistake to ever cooperate with him in this investigation in the first place? As a journalist didn't you ever bother to check him out?

      • John Evans says:

        Interesting point and well made – you sound like a journalist. With 20/20 hindsight if I knew what I now know I'd have been on the next plane out when I discovered who was heading the investigation. The problem was I only met Bridger when we went for a meal at PD's in late February 2008 (like him I kept notes on what happened) and that was already nearly six months into Operation Tempura. Up until then all my contact had been with members of the team who simply referred to an unidentified senior officer. Anyway, I'm happily retired in the UK now and from what I've just been told the last laugh on Mr Bridger will definitely be mine.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I wonder who will end up paying for all this?

    • ex-Tempura says:

      The people of the Cayman Islands. Bridger ran out of funding months ago and is apparently running on fumes right now. Even if he's ordered to pay the costs of this that order will be effectively unenforceable in the UK and he knew that when he got into this. Even Kernohan has no hope of recovering anything from him here.

    • Slowpoke says:

      That will be you and I.  Hope it was good for you :>)

  5. Anonymous says:

    I think what is most disturbing thing about this is the revelation that amongst the documents Bridger removed from the Cayman Islands were confidential communications, including what seem to be transcripts of telephone conversations, between people like the Attorney General and the Governor. It makes you wonder what the heck was going on here and what other material he has tucked away. The impression some of the testimony gives is that this moved from a police investigation in which Bridger was a team member into a personal crusade. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    Isn't it just a case that the documents are privileged and/or irrelevant?

  7. Anonymous says:

    "You stir the sh– the stinker it gets." I think that Tempura needs to RIP.

    • And Another Ting says:

      Rest in peace is what they want, I.e those that have something to hide. What is done in the dark must be brought to light. Why should the people of the Cayman Islands be deprived from knowing the contents of the scandal whose costs they had to pay for?.  If it embarrasses the crown, the Attorney general and others then so be it, then we can move ahead knowing what and who we need to be aware of. And another Ting.

      • Anonymous says:

        Who cares.  I'm sick and tired of paying for it. The longer this drags on the less money the CIG has and at this point, I care more about the money than a bunch of Englishmen.  I don't care what they have to hide. It's become an obsession with these people.  Ever heard of Moby Dick?

        • John Evans says:

          Good comment but just bear in mind that the person playing Capt Ahab here is pictured at the top of this story.

          Ever since Justice Cresswell ripped into him at the end of 2008 for his conduct during the Henderson arrest Bridger has done everything he can to discredit the Cayman Islands and try to shift blame from his own failings.

          Not content with collecting £787 (or just over CI$1000) a day for a job that was later taken over with no problems by a Met Detective Inspector earning just her basic salary plus reasonable expenses he's run up the following tab using other people's money –

          The Henderson settlement – CI$1.25 million plus another estimated CI$400K in legal costs.

          Whatever retirement deal Rudi Dixon was given by RCIPS.

          The Aina report – CI$330K+ all for nothing and totally avoidable because the original complainant, Martin Polaine, withdrew but Bridger insisted on pushing it.

          The on-going FOI appeal and Judicial Review on the refusal to release the Aina report and the original complaint – possibly CI$400K and increasing daily. All of which could have been avoided if Bridger had simply responded to Duncan Taylor's suggestion that he hand over a copy of the complaint to the press.

          A hearing in the UK last year concerning the documents referred in this story – reputed to have cost £400K split equally between CIG and the Met who, for reasons that are unclear, covered all Bridger's legal costs.

          The cost of this hearing plus the re-match in the UK when the ownership of these documents will hopefully be decided.

          And if no one steps up and puts a stop to this it will simply go on and on, and on. What we need right now is simply settlements to the Kernohan and Scott claims plus a robust move to recover these documents. Three simple moves that will end this farce but no one wants to do that.