Tempura report missing key evidence

| 04/04/2016 | 27 Comments
Cayman News Service

(L-R) The FCO’s Miami-based overseas territories security adviser Larry Covington, RCIPS Commissioner David Baines and Head of the Caribbean and Bermuda Section of the FCO, Tony Bates (courtesy of Cayman Prepared)

(CNS): Martin Bridger, the man who headed up the controversial investigation into the RCIPS known as Operation Tempura, suspects that the author of the released report on his complaint about the fall-out of the probe did not see all of the relevant evidence. He told CNS that the review of Tempura by Benjamin Aina QC for then governor Duncan Taylor and his complaint do not tell the full story and leave questions unanswered, including the role of, and decisions made about, the mysterious FCO territories security advisor, Larry Covington.

The Aina Report, which was conducted in 2010 but only released last week, found that Covington appeared to have been aware of the covert entry into Cayman Net News, the media house at the heart of the Tempura investigation. However, despite being fundamental to the central issue surrounding the whole probe, Bridger’s complaint about Covington, among others, was dismissed without a full explanation by the governor’s office or the Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO).

“I have some concerns that not all of the evidence and the relevant documents were considered during the review of my complaint,” Bridger said.

Speaking to CNS Monday, he said that Covington had stated during interviews with the Tempura team that he was unaware that Stuart Kernohan, the police commissioner at the time, and John Jones, his chief superintendent, planned to deal with the original corruption allegations with the help of staff at Net News.

He said the FCO’s security adviser had claimed that he did not give approval to enlist the help of John Evans, a reporter at Net News, and his manager, Lyndon Martin, to dig up potential documentary evidence to support the original allegations by Martin that there was a corrupt relationship between Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis and the paper’s owner, the late Desmond Seales.

But Covington’s role in the probe remains central.

The decision by the UK authorities not to pursue investigations into what Covington really knew and what he told the Tempura team because “it was not in the public interest” raises more questions than appear to be answered about the costly and often confusing twists and turns of the fallout of Tempura.

Bridger said that throughout the investigation into his complaints, he did his very best to assist Aina and offered to send him all of the information he had regarding the enquiry, but the QC had assured him that he was getting everything he needed to conduct the review with the help of the Attorney General’s Chambers, even though that office was itself embroiled in the probe.

“I had raised the possibility that, given the circumstances, the AG’s chambers may be conflicted, but Aina dismissed those concerns and told me he was working with crown counsel Nicole Petite, whom he trusted to be impartial as they had worked together before on the Levers case,” Bridger revealed, noting that this caused him further concern at the time.

The case against the late Priya Levers, a former Grand Court judge, was indirectly related to the Tempura case. There were suspicions that she was behind a series of letters written under various pseudonyms criticising the local judiciary and published by Net News. John Evans, the reporter who made the bungled covert entry into Desmond Seales’ office, claimed that Justice Alex Henderson had asked him to find out who was behind those letters.

Evans’ claims were taken seriously by the Tempura team and led to Justice Henderson’s arrest, which was found by the court to have been unlawful and the judge was paid more than $1.2million in damages. Since the AG’s chambers had been directly linked to both cases, Bridger said he believed that, in the end, Aina may not have had the benefit of seeing everything he really needed to see.

Given Aina’s findings that Covington did appear to know about Evans’ covert entry into Net News and, as Kernohan’s boss, may even have approved it (which both Kernohan and Jones have said was the case), the decision by Governor Taylor, and by extension the FCO, not to investigate allegations of abuse of office by Covington based on time issues and the lack of public interest remains a puzzle.

Bridger pointed out that conclusions about what is or is not in the public interest to prosecute are normally made following a full police enquiry and a review by legal prosecutors. He further noted that the time in this case should not have played any part in the consideration of whether or not to pursue an investigation.

Bridger has stated on a number of occasions that Covington had denied all knowledge about the entry into Net News — a claim clearly undermined by Aina’s Report — but the FCO nevertheless decided not to take the matter any further.

The release of the documents regarding Bridger’s complaint may give the Cayman public some idea of the FCO’s views about the very costly and damaging fallout of the discredited Tempura investigation but it seems the whole truth and the parts played by the myriad characters involved, in particularly that of the FCO’s security advisor, remain a mystery.

Bridger himself is now under investigation by the RCIPS for a number of misconduct offences, the details of which have still not been revealed, which is why parts of the Aina Report were redacted before being released.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: , , ,

Category: Crime, Police

Comments (27)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Deceitful Bastard says:

    Just Watchin the trouble with “3:26am” and others is that the longer this continues it risk exposure of others and their unlawful acts and misdeeds it also limits their ability to continue unlawful clandestine activities they are currently engaged in. The trouble is their conduct was so aggrieving and outrageous at so many levels to so many it just ain’t going to go away and in an attempt to misdirect and mislead the public to make it possible to close this matter, They intentionally and willfully decide on a scapegoat and focused on errors and mistakes in his investigation in which they summoned and commissioned him to do. However once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. and truth must free you whether you are dead or alive?

  2. Anon says:

    for years I have been hearing about this “Tempura” scandal as if its a really juicy one but no one was really able to tell me what on earth its all about – for those of you who cant be bothered reading 190 pages he is the abridged summary:

    One night an employee of net news went into the office, mooched around his bosses office but ultimately took nothing.

    10 million dollars, a number of careers destroyed, a judge arrested for nothing (compensated accordingly), everyone accusing everyone else of being corrupt and a whole load of wasted time and effort.

    This is one of the most retarded things I have ever heard of – I am embarrassed for everyone involved.

    • Anonymous says:

      12:10 That is possibly the best comment I have ever seen about this mess. Thank you! The only thought I would offer is that the bill for this is a heck of lot more than $10million – they spent $1.3million on the Aina report and the FOI hearings alone. I’d say right now Mr Bridger and his antics have cost us at least $25million and it ain’t over yet.

    • Maverick says:

      It is idiots just like you why victimization and colonialism continues today. The accomplice to the crime of corruption is frequently our own indifference. Perhaps if you even understood the economic and social cost and damage to these islands you would be so embarrassed.

      • Anonymous says:

        Strong language. Presume you know exactly what happened. Pray tell.

      • Anon says:

        Hey Maverick – don’t get me wrong I am completely in agreement with you. The fact that Cayman ended up footing the bill for this is an absolute disgrace. Essentially this investigation was a ridiculous wild goose chase which was incredibly expensive and the cost of it was foisted upon Cayman by its colonial overlords. What I meant by that comment was that everyone who was involved in the investigation should be embarrased – the real scandal is the $$ costs and unnecessarily damaged reputations which resulted from something pretty minor (some dude looking around someone else’s office for something that didn’t exist in the first place)

  3. Just Watchin says:

    Yes, Anonymous @ 3:26a – in your mind you just can’t hold Covington and Stuart Jack responsible for Bridger COMING TO Cayman and REMAINING IN Cayman.
    Bridger hired himself and chose when to leave. That makes a lot of sense doesn’t it?

    • Anonymous says:

      Just Watchin

      ‘Bridger hired himself and chose when to leave.’ is not far off what apparently happened. Obviously, he had a bit of help but you’ve summed this up nicely and that’s the big problem – there was no proper oversight once this all kicked off.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Sorry CNS but we’ve heard all this before and it’s just getting really boring. Bridger seems to think that if he keeps repeating this BS eventually someone might believe him but he’s wrong. The people of the Cayman Islands aren’t stupid. They see him for what he is – a greedy opportunist who made $millions out of Tempura and left us to pick up the mess.

  5. Anonymous says:

    More smoke and mirrors from Mr Bridger. What he still doesn’t explain is why an investigation that was effectively concluded after two months was run on for more than two more years apparently earning him and a bunch of his old mates from the Met something like (we still don’t know the final figure) $6million. In October 2007 when he realised that all the allegations against Seales and Ennis were BS why didn’t he just wrap it all up and go home?

    • Anon says:

      For the life of me I cant figure it out either. Ok so no-one should really have been sneaking around in Mr Seales office, fair enough, but in the grand scheme of things why does it matter? Nothing was taken because the thing the reporter was there to take was a figment of his own imagination. Does anyone else not see how nuts that is?

      The appropriate course of action was of course the standard police line “move along… nothing to see here”. What in the world were they thinking??? Could you imagine if this kind of time/effort and money was spent every time an actual burglary took place?? Lol – not likely.

      • Anonymous says:

        3:18 That’s exactly the point and Bridger, as an experienced Met officer, knew it. So what the heck were his and his over-paid buddies playing at?

        The other unresolved issue is why Bridger thought he could get away with removing hundreds of confidential documents from the investigation and claiming privileged access to them. If you read the court transcripts his ‘legal’ arguments are over this are a joke – based on them my teenage son knows more about the law than Bridger apparently does.

        There’s something very screwy about all of this.

        Last year I found a book called ‘The Untouchables: Dirty cops, bent justice and racism in Scotland Yard’. There’s a whole chapter in that covering the relationship between Bridger and the head of BGP, Alan Cammidge, and it doesn’t make very pleasant reading.

        • Anon says:

          yes – I absolutely see what you mean. I would love to know more about what the precise costs of the investigation were, who was providing oversight etc and and how on earth this was able to go for so long and for such completely ridiculous reasons. However – the other side of me thinks their has been enough money poured down the toilet so might be best to just chalk this one down to experience and move on. I don’t think we will ever know if the investigative team is just really stupid or if they were playing a game to keep the money train going. This report and how easily and completely most of the accusations made by Bridger are refuted leads me to think that it might be the former.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Sonia, are you really so naive as to assume that Bridger paid himself?
    Why don’t you ask the GOVERNOR’S OFFICE why it felt it had to go to Scotland Yard (the Met) to investigate this matter and how much the GOVERNOR’S OFFICE agreed he should be paid from our money? Then you would be barking up the right tree.

    • Anonymous says:

      All the serious money was spent after Tempura was handed over to private contractors in 2008. Bridger, BGP and his associates all answered directly to Donnie Ebanks and they were paid by the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs. Check out the FOI releases relating to the 2009 audit, it’s all in there.

  7. Just Watchin says:

    Yes, this is the same “Law Enforcement Advisor” who visited Cayman every week or 10 days from September 2007 when he brought Bridger to December 2007 when Bridger started asking him a few questions.
    Suddenly, his travel itinerary no longer included Cayman and he vanished, but Aina doesn’t report this.
    Stuart Jack was left to rely on John Yates of the Met, from whom Covington had secured Bridger, to “advise” him on Bridger’s investigation.
    Covington did not re-surface in Cayman until mid-2010 when the smoke had cleared.
    Now we’re beginning to see the common interests of the FCO/Governor’s office and the Judiciary/Chief Justice in keeping this report away from the Caymanian public.
    And in the meantime, both have done all that they could to make Bridger look like the villain.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I just posted a comment CNS and got, not for the first time, a statement saying “you are posting too quickly, slow down”. I did NOT, repeat very slowly NOT, post too quickly so why the eff is this happening? And by the way, why am I having trouble registering my likes/dislikes/lol etc opinions?

    CNS: Apologies, this is a problem that pops up now and again. It appeared last in the comment section of this article: Bush’s lawyer sorry over failure to declare earnings
    What you are seeing is a computer generated response from WordPress (the platform the site is built on), not from CNS. I still don’t know how to prevent it.
    The problem registering likes and dislikes could be because someone using the same IP address is also voting, so the site will not accept any more votes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for taking the trouble to reply! Much appreciated.

      • Anonymous says:

        The trick is to refresh the page and try again. Your text should remain in the comment box but make sure you copy (Ctrl C) the text before you refresh then if it fails you can just reload CNS and try again.

  9. sonia says:

    Bridger please tell the people of the Cayman Islands how much you were paid. I am sure you will tell us given your quest for openness.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Lord help us if legal fraternity would seek to infringe on our rights to post comments here and seek to find out who posts comments about them.

    It’s our right and responsibility to speak up about the systems which govern us and any issues with the players, including the legal fraternity.

  11. Whisky bravo says:


  12. Anonymous says:

    The Aina Report does not read so much as an investigation of the Bridger allegations but as a justification for the Governor to dismiss the claims summarily.

  13. Anonymous says:

    So in summary there was once a likable rogue DS who was not a newsman, but he knew that anything salacious or outrageously unlikely that found its way into print would be readily believed and swallowed hook line and sinker in Cayman. DS business acumen being what it was, the “newspaper” didn’t keep him in the manner in which he would have liked to become accustomed, but somehow it paid some of the bills. Hence the letters about our justice system to increase circulation of said newspaper.

    Due to the aforementioned lack of business acumen, the newsman couldn’t afford to hire real reporters either, so he had to make do with the likes of LM and JE. Probably a smart move on his part since there is no need for a real reporter if you don’t have a real newspaper. LM, because of past indiscretions, really didn’t have that many job options available to him, and JE it seems was happy pretending to be a reporter while occasionally talking to a judge and dreaming that he was a detective.

    A local politician MB and high-ranking policeman RD, neither being a paragon of virtue, were more than happy to assist in any way they could by spreading malicious gossip (about the bald one) to someone else to stir up some shyte. This is a time-honoured tradition in Cayman, and nobody with half a brain would believe anything that they whispered in confidence. However, I guess the COP couldn’t take a chance on it being true so he had to summons help from higher up.

    In comes super detective MB, who must have succumbed to a combination heat stroke and mojito brain fart, because he immediately decided that he knew more about the law than a local Chief Justice, and thereby set the wheels in motion to give us a bill in excess of $10 million….

    • Ironside says:

      I’d watch that show!

      Coming Summer 2016

      Cayman Crime Story: Headline Justice & the Bridge Over Troubled Seas.

      A 10-part mini series.

      Directed by D. Jackson.

      A Sirsee Production in association with Ginip Seed Film.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.