Governor releases Tempura documents

| 31/03/2016 | 46 Comments
Cayman News Service

Martin Bridger, SIO of Operation Tempura

(CNS): Having spent thousands of dollars fighting orders from the Information Commissioner’s Office to do so, the governor’s office has finally released the Aina Report on Operation Tempura, written on behalf of then Governor Duncan Taylor in response to a lengthy complaint made by Martin Polaine, the legal advisor to the probe into the RCIPS who was disbarred as a result of his advice, and the senior investigator for Tempura, Martin Bridger.

The complaint itself and related documents have been released along with a redacted version of the report following the third order by the ICO to do so in February.

The long and winding road to the release of the information stemmed from a freedom of information request made in February 2012 by John Evans, a retired British journalist who played a key role in the events that gave rise to the investigation in the first place.

Governor Taylor’s written response, compiled by Benjamin Aina QC, dismissed all the allegations contained in the complaint, including those of bias and collusion on the part of senior judges in the Cayman Islands.

The complaint was originally made by Polaine to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in June 2010 about senior figures in the local judiciary and government legal officers during the time period between August and November 2008, when he was advising the investigation. He was later disbarred for his erroneous legal advice to the Tempura investigators regarding the arrest of a sitting Grand Court Judge, Justice Alex Henderson, who later received compensation of around CI$1.275 million.

Bridger joined Polaine as co-complainer in September 2010, and when Polaine withdrew his complaint two months later, Bridger continued as the sole complainer.

Both Taylor and then his replacement to the post of governor, Helen Kilpatrick, had challenged earlier rulings by Acting Information Commissioner Jan Liebaers, claiming the complaint itself contained allegations that were defamatory.

“The governor challenged earlier information commissioner rulings that this material be released as she considered it important to establish in the court whether the unjustified and libellous content of the complaint (and as reproduced in the Report) was a basis for invoking the public interest exemption,” Kilpatrick’s office stated in a release Thursday afternoon.

“Whilst the governor continues to believe that it is not in the public interest to publish either a complaint that was found to consist entirely of false allegations or Governor Taylor’s response which discussed and dismissed those defamatory allegations, she accepts the Information Commissioner’s latest ruling,” the release said. “She therefore recognises that she is under an obligation to release material in accordance with the Freedom of Information Law 2007.”

Governor Kilpatrick has now disclosed the original complaint, Governor Taylor’s written response to it (the Aina Report) and two letters from the chief justice to Governor Taylor, all of which can be found on the governor’s office website.

The office noted that Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s letters have been disclosed at his request and that Taylor had agreed that these letters would be disclosed if and when the complaint and his response to it were released.

Chunks of the Aina Report, however, have been redacted due to an RCIPS investigation into Bridger, the former Metropolitan Police officer brought in to lead Operation Tempura, who is being investigated for misconduct in public office and six other unidentified offences in relation to the entire investigation.

In his ruling of 15 February 2016, the Information Commissioner held that some of the information was to be exempted from disclosure at this time on the basis that it could affect the investigation into Bridger.

“The redactions made to these documents are those suggested by the information commissioner in his ruling,” the governor’s office said. “The governor recognises the limited application of this exemption and will consider disclosing an unredacted copy of the information as soon as a current police investigation and / or possible prosecution have been concluded.”

In his letter to Taylor in November 2010, however, the chief justice stated his contention that, as a point of law, the complaint should have been dismissed without any kind of enquiry.

“It is also my view that the complaint itself was nothing but an artifice for deflecting attention away from the need for an inquiry into the conduct of Mr Bridger and company in respect of Operation Tempura,” he wrote.

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Comments (46)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    cayman justice….big waste of time and nothing gets achieved….
    just like the mac investigation…..

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why did it take the ICO so long and soooo much money to suggest applying the exemptions/redactions that was finally suggested resulting in the release of these records?

  3. Anonymous says:

    like who cares why is this news!! now

    • Anonymous says:

      @1:52 and 11:54…. bet you disappointed report not about Caymanians and British right? Want us to be quiet now, perhaps your nationals stuck between rock and hard place?

      • Anonymous says:

        ….1:52 – Caymanian!

        My point is simply this (read the other decisions and you will see for yourself) if the ICO was of the opinion that the records could be released with the same exemptions that they told the Gov office to apply, why didn’t they do so sooner and save the judicial reviews and all the legal cost associated with it.

        The commissioner would have had that report long time in order to conduct the first hearing. Instead of saying release it as a whole it could have been suggested that it is released with redactions as they have finally done.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It would really be appreciated if the Chief Justice could provide the public with a few links to, or copies of, judgments by other counterpart judges in the Commonwealth Caribbean from his library of judgments where the Judge considering an application by the police for a search warrant also gave a ruling on whether the individual that the police were seeking to search had committed an offence or not – as he did in 2008.
    I really need to see those before I make any ‘judgment’ on his performance.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It seems the Chief Justice has been right throughout. The FCO should apologize and we should move on.

  6. Just Watchin says:

    It would really be appreciated if the Chief Justice could provide the public via the media a few links to, or copies of, judgments by other counterpart judges in the Commonwealth Caribbean from his library of judgments where the Judge considering an application by the police for a search warrant also gave a ruling on whether the individual that the police were seeking to search had committed an offence or not – as he did in 2008.
    I really need to see those before I make any ‘judgment’ on his performance.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Pollack, do your thing!

  8. Anonymous says:

    things that make you go hmmmm…

  9. Rick says:

    At the end of the the day this is no surprise. Clearly, a criminal conspiracy was hatched and executed to break into the private office of a newspaper and all were clearly guilty of burglary / criminal trespass and the accessory before and after the fact. They should have all been criminally charged. What is clear is that the local judiciary is completely exonerated from any wrong doing. The embarrassing thing is that the current governance framework got it wrong too many times. That is the obvious reason for not releasing the documents in the first place. Many were blaming the AG and the DPP, but we now know they got it right at every turn also. Unfortunately, there will still be debate for all who are challenged at reading and understanding.

    • Anonymous says:

      Local Judiciary completely exonerated Rick? Hahahahaha By Whom themselves and you Ricky Your comprehension skills must be that of a rock! Man get real.

  10. Just Askin' says:

    Who would have guessed that Mac would be all up in the middle of it?

  11. Zeke Plaster says:

    My Question is, if Mr Bridger’s investigation that there was never ever relationship with Ennis and Seales is accurate and an accepted fact and was the basis for asking him to come here to investigate in the first place. What did those who conspired and committed criminal acts in order to substantiate this false allegation honestly expect him to do???? As for those who believe they are above law or reproach who decided to partake in this fiasco in order to seek their own retribution and revenge against anyone who dares speak out or question their authority speaks for itself and demonstrates exactly why their is a serious lack of trust and fear by the people on this island.

  12. Fooday Handcook says:

    If the UK was smart they would appoint Martin Bridger the Next Commissioner of police I bet you a lot Brown Stains draws and pants would litter this island???? This folks wreaks of the Old Boy Network protecting itself and its corrupt members It is why we will never make any inroads to stop corruption in this entire Caribbean region..

    • Anonymous says:

      Appointing someone as CoP while they are themselves under investigation for misconduct in public office would not be a smart move by any stretch.

  13. Bigger Whopper says:

    Damit…and here I was all this time thinking they were talking about Shrimp Tempura.

  14. Banana Republican says:

    The Cayman Judiciary DOES NOT look good in this mess but then again Governors Jack and Taylor plus their pitbull in the RCIPS Gold Command look far worse, like bumbling clowns.

    is it ok for the RCIPS to break the laws of the Cayman Islands? And did the Chief Justice act as “de facto counsel” for his arrested colleague then act as judge overseeing the matter? Did people get paid off to break laws? And were there any cover ups to protect a fraternity of friends? A lot of things still unanswered.

  15. Billy Shakesbanks says:

    I wrote a play about this back in the 1500’s. Premonition?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Perfect timing?………

  17. great says:

    This whole thing cost 10m dollars?

    Hell, for 1m dollars i could’ve given you something more interesting and at least a prosecution.

    You call this professional. I would love to see what you all call unprofessional.

    This all reads like a bunch of spoilt rich kids arguing and trying to blame each other for not getting a toy.

    A whole lot of “behind the closed door accusations” and oppurtunist tactics.

    What a waste. And worst still is the fact that the so called “professional” UK police, political and legal system are the main players in this. And these are the people we go to for answers. Quincy would have done better.

    But in the end I guess they got the payout they were all looking for, at the poors expense.

    Personally I think if you put the whole bunch in a wet paper bag they could’nt find their way out. Brings to mind another adage: How many monkeys to screw in a light bulb?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Very disappointing decision. The statute does not require the Governor to hand over documents.

    • Anonymous says:

      7:30am Where did you study law?

      This is posted on the Governor’s website – The Governor’s Office is committed to openness, transparency and the public interest in compliance with both the UK’s Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Cayman Islands Freedom of Information Law 2007.

      The Governor’s Office is public authority as determined by FOIA in the UK and the Cayman Islands FOI Law.

      • Anonymous says:

        The Cayman statute does not bind the Governor. Rather the Governor chose not to take that point in the legal proceedings. The application was made under the local statute rather than the national one, so the UK FOI provisions were never engaged.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Is this an April Fool?

  20. Anonymous says:

    This is all old news folkes. You must consider who is making the allegations and what they have to gain by making them. Bridger owes the Cayman Islands an apology and should return all monies paid to him.

  21. Anonymous says:

    At this stage of the game does anyone trust anything that is being released? There seems to be major credibility issues surrounding this whole process.

  22. Anonymous says:

    On April Fools Day

  23. John Evans says:

    This report cost almost $2000 a page to prepare then in round figures a further $5000 a page in legal fees before reaching the point of release to the public and what did we get? I read through it into the early hours of this morning and couldn’t detect anything that was confidential, defamatory or that in any way remotely justified all the excuses made over the years by the FCO and the Governor’s Office for non-disclosure. In fact it was all a bit of a non-event. The findings of the report don’t even vaguely resemble the highly sensitive material that the FCO in London claimed it contained when this went to an FOI appeal in the UK. All of which once again begs the question why did the FCO fight so hard to keep it all secret?

    One of my contentions from day one is that the way in which Aina’s investigation was conducted breached the rights of a number of people as outlined in ECHR Article 6, Right to a Fair Trial. That at least has been confirmed. In fact one of the ironies of Aina’s report is that the section referring to Desmond Seales’ rights under Article 8 of ECHR contains the most blatant breach of Article 6 in that it finds three people guilty of criminal conduct without giving them any opportunity to prepare or offer a defence.

    I can’t speak for anyone else but to suddenly discover that in 2010 Aina had conducted a secret investigation into the 3 September 2007 search of Desmond Seales office and, contrary to numerous assurances from both the RCIPS and the Tempura Team in 2008/9, had determined that my conduct constituted Criminal Trespass under Cayman Islands Law was a bit of a shock. To read through his findings and discover that this ruling had been made on the basis of flawed information and without making any attempt to interview me in person makes nonsense of the whole investigation. He apparently didn’t even deem it necessary to contact the other two people directly involved in the search (one of whom was still a senior RCIPS officer at the time) although his report concludes that they were also involved in a criminal act.

    For legal reasons I’m not going into details at this point but I found six clear instances where Aina’s findings were based on material that was compromised, incomplete, inaccurate or just plain untrue. There are also some serious omissions in his report, facts that would have been uncovered if a proper investigation had taken place and might well have changed some of his conclusions. At the end of the day you have wonder just what he did to justify the $335K price tag on this 185-page document and maybe that’s been the FCO’s real problem all along. What releasing the report shows is that the Governor’s Office threw away a third of a million dollars on a report that is hardly worth the paper is was printed on and on an investigation that they had quite clearly been advised was unnecessary. The fact that a further $1million has now been thrown down the drain on lawyer’s fees to reach this point just compounds what seems to me to be a blatant abuse of the Governor’s office.

    Hopefully, I’ll have more on this next week. In the meantime this is my only comment on the matter so it’s no good posting questions about it.

    • Anonymous says:

      John, I think you’ll find that the defamatory aspect arises from the conflict between the CJ’s letter of 10 Nov 2011 and Aina’s finding in pages 76 onwards. It’s possible that the FCO felt that publicly stating people were guilty of criminal trespass when nobody had been charged and there was more than reasonable doubt this was not the case might not be a smart move. Not really my area of expertise but I’m sure someone will correct me if that’s incorrect.

    • Anonymous says:

      How can the contents of a legal opinion affect Article 6 rights? This should be entertaining.

      • Anonymous says:

        7:58 Because if you read the report it’s not just a legal opinion. The way it’s worded is a statement of fact. The three involved are stated to have broken the law – there’s no qualification there.

    • Jotnar says:

      Must have been a shock to discover that someone considered entering your employer,s private office after office hours, without his permission, and rummaging through his papers criminal trespass. I am not sure how the QC passing his opinion that you have committed committed criminal act is a breach of your right to trial, but I guess that can be remedied by charging you. How you can point fingers at the cost of this debacle when it would never ha occurred without you and Martin pretending to be spies is beyond me.

    • Anonymous says:

      i think it shows how these guys can waste the peoples money and mess with our reputation.

  24. MI6 in 345 says:

    Why spend all that money on legal fees to then turn around and release the tempura documents very strange

    • Anonymous says:

      Not really – had they published voluntarily, then they might have been sued for defamation (whether or not the action would succeed is another issue). As it is, I would have thought that they have an excellent defence against that, in that they can argue that they have been compelled to publish against their will and have gone to great lengths to avoid publishing.

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