Bridger keeps up pressure for CIG to lift Tempura lid

| 29/02/2016 | 13 Comments
Cayman News Service

Martin Bridger, SIO of Operation Tempura

(CNS): Since the first complaint was made back in 2010 about the way the discredited and costly Operation Tempura investigation was conducted by the one time lead investigator, Martin Bridger, and his legal advisor on the enquiry, Martin Polaine,  Bridger has not given up trying to get the full story into the public domain. He told CNS that he wants all of the documents relating to this saga made public so the Caymanian people can judge for themselves the rights and wrongs of the controversial probe and the parts played by local and UK government officials.

Since Bridger was ousted in 2009 after demands from the PPM administration at the time and the probe was shut down, he has raised a number of complaints as various twists and turns, allegations and counter allegations that have been made about the management of the investigation and various related events. Meanwhile, the governor’s office has spent tens of thousands of Cayman taxpayers’ money trying to maintain the secrecy surrounding Bridger’s early complaint and the report on why it was dismissed.

As a result of various court orders, paid for by the local taxpayer, Bridger has also been prevented from revealing other details of the investigation, which he says is stopping the whole picture being presented to the people, who have picked up the tab for Tempura, which began in the summer of 2007 and nine years later is still making headlines.

Painted as one of the villains in the piece, Bridger has consistently told CNS that whatever conclusions the people of the Cayman Islands draw about him, he hopes that they will at some point be able to base them on all of the evidence.

“Once the whole truth regarding Operation Tempura is revealed, then the Cayman people can make their own minds up about me, good or bad,” he said. “But the whole truth needs to come out.”

Bridger is still hoping that, following the latest ICO ruling, the governor’s office will relent and release the controversial documents that it has been trying to keep secret for some four years, but he is under no illusions.

His ongoing correspondence over the last seven years with the governor’s office and other government officials here has proved futile and every attempt he has made to get what he believes is important information into the public domain has been thwarted. In correspondence to Premier Alden McLaughlin in May 2015 Bridger outlined his concerns over “persistent and unrelenting efforts by others to conceal the full truth” about Tempura, but he said the premier also refused to listen. In a response from the Cabinet secretary, Bridger was told the premier noted his comments but, given the ongoing proceedings, he would not comment.

Having faced lawsuits from the Cayman government, from Stuart Kernohan, the former police commissioner and victim of Tempura, as well as numerous other legal challenges, Bridger remains the subject of another related police probe, while his own complaints have been repeatedly dismissed without any proper consideration, he claimed.

Bridger has written to the current governor on numerous occasions imploring her to listen to the issues and consider his complaints but email correspondence see by CNS has been persistently knocked back, as all of his efforts to place the information he has in the public domain have been stopped, even preventing Bridger using evidence he has to support his complaints to police in London.

More recently, Bridger has raised further concerns directly with the governor and the minister for overseas territories that the documents he has regarding the findings of his original complaint and the subject of the ongoing FOI request may not be complete. He said that neither the governor nor the minister have responded to date about the possibility that there was a second report which the previous governor, Duncan Taylor, was not prepared to refer to in the response he provided to Bridger.

The former Tempura boss added that if this is the case, important findings may have been kept from him and possibly the Information Commissioner.

The review of Bridger’s complaint, which was conducted and written by Benjamin Aina, the legal advisor to Stuart Jack in the early days of Tempura, was assessed by Duncan Taylor when he was governor and it was his findings on that the report which were given to Bridger under strict confidentiality controls.

But he now believes that it may not be a true reflection of what the lawyer found, as there are indications that Aina was forced to change his report, adding yet another twist to the ongoing Tempura saga.

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Comments (13)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It would be good to see all the details in the documents, but I feel pretty confident that in broad terms we already know most of what the powers that be are trying to withhold — that Governor Jack did indeed approve the break in and that Covington had some role to play in all this. I also suspect that it will show that Bridger was well aware — or should have been — that Kearnohan had observed the required supervisee role with the Governor — I can’t believe that as an investigator Bridger would not have checked into that immediately as a priority, given the constitutional power of a governor to approve covert operations (though not exactly in the way it was done), when it is deemed in the public interest, and given the reporting responsibilities of the CoP to the governor.

    I would though like Jack to be exposed for the liar that he was — claiming he did not know about the plan for the break in in advance or that he did not know one of his judges was to be arrested, for a start. That, of course, was given the lie when the then chief office involved called his illustrious supervisor Chief Secretary (with his much vaunted self-attributed qualities for truth and integrity) to discuss signing the order for the judge’s home and office to be searched. In case we have forgotten, it came out in court that the top dog reassured the CO that “the Governor knows.” Of course he did! As the head of the civil service, there is very little that governors do not know — certainly in matters in this realm of importance.

    • John Evans says:

      8:46 You haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about. That’s just a mindless rant.

      • Anonymous says:

        To John at 2:38 pm, I think we are all getting a little tired of your and Bridger’s endless winging. It is clear that at the centre of this whole thing is Jack’s mismanagement and Ill- advised interjection of the Bumbling British police into an investigation that could surely have been handled much more deftly locally and his subsequent attempts to cover up his missteps.

        End of story. All the rest are spinoff details and minutiae. The Cayman public already knows the big picture.

        I think it is time for this whole thing to just go away. I certainly am not prepared for one more cent to be spent on this whole Bridger stuff.

        If you are so bent out of shape, go write the book and get it off your chest — but wait, would anyone except Bridger be interested?

      • Anonymous says:

        John Evans, funny I did not detect any anger to match your description in 8:46 of a “mindless rant” . As a journalist, you should have by this learnt to be tolerant of views contrary to yours. But what was it that needled you so in the poster’s comment? Strange that you should become so defensive.

  2. John Evans says:

    I think in fairness Mr Bridger has to concede that this issue of secrecy and non-disclosure cuts both ways. I’ve now lost track of the number of times he’s claimed to have significant evidence to substantiate his case but refused to release it to the media for legal reasons.

    Every single piece of evidence I’ve uncovered over the past seven years has been released to the press. That hasn’t done me much good but it also hasn’t done me any harm so he’s got not no valid excuse for sitting on this material. It really has come time to put up or shut up – show us the proof if you’ve got it Mr Bridger.

    He’s also conveniently side-stepping the still unresolved issue of the court case surrounding all the confidential Tempura documents he removed from the Cayman Islands. There has never been a satisfactory explanation for this act and the so-called ‘legal arguments’ he put forward to try to justify what most people regard as simple theft are a joke. It was my FOI requests that uncovered this and I’ve since learned that the missing material includes many highly sensitive documents, which in the wrong hands could prove very damaging to people who cooperated with Tempura.

    As for the last paragraph of your story? There’s some evidence emerging (although nothing documented as yet) that during the delay between Duncan Taylor dismissing the Polaine/Bridger complaint in January 2011 and the release of the Aina report to Mr Bridger nearly two months later it was re-written. The version I have is that in February 2011 Benjamin Aina returned to Grand Cayman to finalise the report for release to Mr Bridger. Whether or not you want to infer anything sinister was going on it looks like the initial announcement was based on an interim or draft report then the final document had to be agreed with the Governor’s Office before being signed off for release.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s also worth remembering that in 2013 Bridger didn’t hesitate to release his complaint against Stuart Jack et al to the UK press at exactly the same time as he was presenting it to the Met police for investigation. As a retired senior police officer he should have known better and it still seems amazing that after this stunt the Met even bothered to listen to him. At the time Bridger was embroiled in costly litigation with both Stuart Kernohan and the AG so you’d be hard-pressed not to conclude that it was all a ruse to divert attention from that. Quite why he’s still pushing this is anybody’s guess.

    • Anonymous says:

      Except of course that document received pursuant to legal compulsion in civil proceedings such as discovery are subject to confidentiality obligations and using them for anything other than the case itself or seeking them for say use as a journalist is contempt. Which you seem to ignore when castigating Mr Bridger.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why does Mr Evans have a copy of a confidential legal opinion?

      • John Evans says:

        10:11 Why shouldn’t I? I have copies of correspondence between the RCIPS, the FCO and the Met Police relating to Tempura that is marked ‘Confidential’ but was released to me by lawyers working for the Met in 2010. CNS and a number of other media outlets have seen copies of it. I also have a number of FOI releases that blow huge holes in some of the arguments being thrown around here. In addition I was there during Tempura so I saw what was going on and at no time was I sworn to secrecy. I have on two occasions agreed to hold meetings involving Tempura ‘off the record’ and what happened there is exactly that.

        8:41 Possibly true, although my own experience of covering civil litigation in the UK suggests otherwise and documents seem to flow quite freely into the hands of the media. However, once the action is concluded and the matter is no longer in the hands of the court how does releasing anything become contempt unless there were specific directions that it remained confidential? The only recorded restraint on Mr Bridger relates to the deal he did on the Aina report and bluntly I don’t see what the FCO can do if he simply ignores that – at worst it’s simple breach of contract. There’s also no way the original complaint, which was drawn up by Martin Polaine, can be subject to any viable gagging order.

        Bottom line is on 4 March 2013 (that’s three years ago now) Martin Bridger filed this on-going grievance with Commander Allan Gibson, who was then Director of Professional Standards at the Met. It was headed ‘Allegation Of Crime’ and accused a number of people of criminal conduct.

        The document concludes with two paragraphs that read, ‘It is important to add that the allegations I now make have not been investigated or considered by any authority to date.

        ‘I would ask that at all time I am dealt with in accordance with the victim’s charter.’

        However, to hedge his bets he also released that document to the media in the UK and the Cayman Islands who were happy to report the contents. I was shown the complaint shortly afterwards and submitted evidence to the effect that there were serious shortcomings (I’m being polite here) in the version of events contained therein.

        If Martin Bridger wants to push this I wish the best of luck but right now it looks to me like he’s just playing games. If he has evidence of wrongdoing there is absolutely nothing to stop him making it public. Right now nobody is suing him and no criminal charges have been filed so nothing is sub judice. All this looks far more like trying to gain leverage by threatening to release material that he doesn’t actually have. We’ve been down this road before – it ended up going nowhere and costing everyone a heck of a lot of money.

        • Anonymous says:

          Christ you know nothing for a journalist. Documents remain under an obligation of confidentiality after a trial unless they were referred to in open Court.

          • John Evans says:

            1:56 Christ, in that case I should have spent most of the last 30 years in jail for contempt! What complete balls. If you get hold of material and there’s no court direction or injunction restricting publication it’s fair game. Been like that ever since I can remember.

          • Anonymous says:

            @1:56 FYI, in the UK it’s also potentially a criminal offence to release details of an on-going police investigation to the media but that didn’t stop Bridger did it? In 2008/9 Bridger apparently also (it’s in another comment) leaked a lot of material relating to Lyndon Martin’s trail and the Henderson arrest to Net News but nothing happened about that. We seem to be working to two completely different sets of standards here.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sounds a good reason to limit his access to documents then if civil proceedings are a stepping stone to a publicity campaign. Surely now the Governor or London will slap a PII certificate over the whole process and draw this aspect to a prompt close.

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