$584k added to Tempura bill
(CNS): Although lead investigating officer Martin Bridger and most of his special police investigation team (SPIT) left the island well over three years ago, the discredited enquiry he led into alleged corruption within the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is still costing the local tax payer money. According to information released by the Portfolio of Legal Affairs, since the last public trial relating to the investigation in October 2009, the attorney general has run up a bill of almost $600,000 dealing with other legal claims and battles that relate to both former police commissioner, Stuart Kernohan, and Bridger in an effort to prevent the former Scotland Yard cop from using documents to clear his own name in Kernohan’s law suit.
The investigation into the RCIPS, which was paid for by the Cayman tax payer, failed to uncover any wrongdoing. It began as an undercover operation in September 2007 and reached the height of notoriety when the team wrongfully arrested Grand Court Judge Alex Henderson. The arrest was found to be unlawful following a ruling by Sir Peter Cresswell, who now sits in Cayman’s financial services court.
Two more major courtroom dramas followed, the first involving former MLA and Cayman Net News reporter, Lyndon Martin, for breaking and entering into his own workplace, and the second in which former deputy commissioner of police, Rudolph Dixon, was charged with misconduct in a public office. Both men were cleared and the investigation was eventually closed down.
Since then, however, Kernohan has filed a wrongful dismissal claim and Martin Bridger has gone to battle with the Cayman authorities over documents he holds regarding the corruption investigation, which he believes was prematurely halted.
In response to an FOI request by CNS, the Portfolio of Legal Affairs wrote to the news website stating that three separate matters relating to Operation Tempura were on-going since the Dixon trial, two of which are taking place in Cayman and one in the UK. The total cost to the public purse so far is $584,107.42 but these cases are far from over.
Although there has been no official confirmation regarding the status of the various on-going cases, it is understood that Burman Scott is still waiting on a settlement on damages he claimed from the Cayman government relating to his arrest in the Dixon case.
In addition, Kernohan is continuing his case against Bridger and the Cayman government over his dismissal, which he says was unlawful. The former top cop was dismissed by the then governor Stuart Jack when he refused to return to the island during his suspension in connection with the investigation.
Finally, Bridger is now engaged in a legal battle with the attorney general as the authorities here try to prevent him from using certain documents in his possession in the Kernohan case. The documents relate to the investigation and some believe they might prove embarrassing for the Cayman and UK authorities.
CNS understand that the documents may support Kernohan’s contention that both Stuart Jack and the overseas territories security advisor, Larry Covington, were well versed about the plan that Kernohan and his officers were following in connection with the trigger that resulted in Operation Tempura.
The investigation centred on claims made by Lyndon Martin to Rudolph Dixon that the Cayman Net News editor and proprietor, the late Desmond Seales, was engaged in a corrupt relationship with Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis. On hearing the accusations, Kernohan had informed the governor and Covington, telling them both that the police were working with Martin and his reporter colleague, John Evans, to try and find evidence for the very serious accusations before action was taken against Ennis.
Given the sensitivity of the accusations and the involvement of the media, Kernohan wanted to move with caution before issuing a warrant to search the offices of the newspaper, which could have easily have been misinterpreted as a threat to free speech.
As a result, Kernohan and Chief Inspector John Jones sanctioned a late night exploration by Martin and Evans of the newspaper offices where the men both worked before taking the step of issuing a warrant.
The bungled attempt by Evans and Martin to find corroborating evidence failed to recover any supporting documentation for the allegations but set off a train of bizarre events which resulted in the Operation Tempura investigation, which has already cost the Cayman public millions of dollars and is likely to cost it much more.
Visit the CNS Library for documents relating to Operations Tempura and Cealt.
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