‘Cealt’ complaints remain public mystery

| 10/06/2016 | 18 Comments
Cayman News Service

Premier Alden McLaughlin

(CNS): The outcome of the spin-off enquiry of Operation Tempura, dubbed Operation Cealt, remains a public mystery but Premier Alden McLaughlin said this week that he had “never heard such a fantastical tale”, as he suggested the related enquiry had no substance. Over 60 separate individuals recalled different cases of police and official corruption to the UK officers, who recorded their complaints. But what happened after that has never been revealed because the Tempura team was instructed to pass the evidence on to the RCIPS.

In his recent letter to McLaughlin, Martin Bridger, who was the senior investigating officer on Operation Tempura, stated that many of those allegations were of a “most serious nature” and included allegations against “politicians, members of the judiciary, serving and ex RCIPS officers and other senior officials”, which were tape recorded and are still in existence. But Bridger stated that he was never tasked to investigate the allegations.

“My task was to record the allegations and then submit them to the Governor Stuart Jack and the then acting commissioner of police James Smith,” he said. Smith was the acting commissioner of the RCIPS at the time, before David Baines took up the permanent position, who went on to take the top police job in Turks and Caicos.

“I understand that the matters were passed onto David Baines to deal with. Whether Baines dealt with the allegations in a manner that was required of him remains to be seen,” Bridger added in his letter, which enraged the premier, who accused Bridger of extortion.

To date, Bridger has never spoken about the details of Cealt as the evidence was given in confidence, and since his departure officials here have said very little about what investigations were conducted into the unrelated and unsolicited accounts. However, it is understood that there are hundreds of hours of tapes in which individuals told their stories in confidence to the team of officers.

Speaking about Cealt in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, the premier recalled the briefing Bridger gave to Cabinet, which Bridger has said he was ordered to do by the governor at the time.

“I had never heard such a fantastical tale about what all sorts of people were supposedly doing in the Cayman Islands,” McLaughlin stated Wednesday. “I was completely spell-bound; it was like something out of a John Grisham novel … We were all in a state of shock.”

The premier said that he supported the continuation of investigations at first because if people were running around in Cayman committing these crimes and the alleged wrongdoing was true, it had to be investigated. But after a few weeks his instincts began to tell him that something was wrong, he told the LA and implied that the accusations were unfounded.

But no report, review, summary or explanation has ever been made to the people of the Cayman Islands about what happened to the evidence that the team collected. In the fallout of the ill-fated Tempura investigation into police corruption, Cealt was picked up by the RCIPS.

In 2011 the governor’s office made a brief statement that some incidences resulted in officers leaving the service, indicating that there was some foundation to the complaints. The governor at the time, Duncan Taylor, also said that some allegations formed the basis of ongoing investigations by the RCIPS Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), the Anti-Corruption Commission, or the RCIPS cold case review team.

However, CNS has learned that the short-lived and limited cold case team only ever seriously investigated one case, and that did not emerge from the Cealt complaints. Former detective inspector Dennis Walkington and Superintendent Mike Cranswick, who is due to retire shortly, only ever reviewed the 2008 murder of Swiss banker, Fredric Bise. As a result, Chad Anglin was convicted of murder and Leonard Ebanks of accessory after the fact following a trial in 2014.

While the ACU rarely comments on its investigations, there has never been any indication that the unit has ever followed up on any of the Cealt cases.

While a number of police officers are understood to have been let go over Cealt or chose to resign, the details of the misconduct or criminality has never been revealed.

The fallout from Tempura has focused heavily on the issues surrounding the judiciary’s part in the discredited probe and who knew what and when. The enquiry was initiated following allegations that the late Desmond Seales, the owner of local paper Cayman Net News, was receiving leaked secret police information from Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis – an allegation that was dismissed very quickly.

It is now clear from the report released by the governor that when former commissioner Stuart Kernohan used two reporters at the paper to try and find evidence to support that allegation, he had briefed UK officials, including Larry Covington, the mysterious “security advisor to the overseas territories”, who is based in Miami. However, Covington never admitted this to the Tempura officers.

Kernohan testified under oath in a Tempura trial that he had also informed the governor at the time, Stuart Jack, and that Attorney General Sam Bulgin had also been briefed. But both those men told Bridger they had no idea about the alleged break-in to the newspaper offices and have continue to deny that ever since.

Letter from Martin Bridger to Alden McLaughlin 1st June 2016

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Category: Crime, Police

Comments (18)

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  1. Someone says:

    Politics is best left well alone. Alden, you and your cronies please leave me alone. I have no criminal record, I pay my bills as and when I can and I don’t need you or your government poking its nose into my life.
    Take a hike.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Alden lost all credibility when his response to the Compass claim of systemic corruption in the Cayman Islands was “TREASONOUS”.

    Please, denial is not a river in Egypt.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is all so dysfunctional.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The fact is, the type of corruption Bridger alleges is still rampant within and throughout the CI Public service, and Alden knows it!! Bet he won’t dare bring Bridger back to testify!!!

  5. Dog says:

    When it serves your purposes to hound others, Dear Mr. Premier, the allegations seem well founded… When they somehow rain on your little parade, they’re nothing but fantastical tales. Best part of it all, you have no shame applying this double standard.

  6. John Evans says:

    In response to two FOI of my requests in 2011 RCIPS said the documentation from the initial investigations were sent to the Met in London and the Met said they’d never received it. What then followed is very well documented and involved at least three court hearings. There’s only one person who knows what really went on here – Martin Bridger. It’s time for him to stop fxxxing around and either release the documentation he has or shut up.

    One of the reasons this will never happen is that in 2008 Tempura/Cealt illegally accessed thousands of emails, voicemails and cell phone accounts trying to find evidence of wrongdoing.They turned up absolutely nothing, which is probably why all the records conveniently disappeared.

    Personally, if I was Alden I’d drag Bridger back to the Cayman Islands and force him to present whatever he has or doesn’t have before the LA – these silly games have been going on for too long now.

    • John Evans says:

      Sorry, big typo – ‘two FOI of my requests in 2011’ should read ‘two of my FOI requests in 2011’. I’m working on a small laptop while the techies sort out my desktop and even with +4.5 glasses it’s a struggle!

    • Flipper says:

      If I was Alden, I’d drag you back by the scruff of your collar as well. You always seem to have an awful lot to say. Playing detective for one night does not an expert make. If Bridger really has nothing to reveal, why exactly did government, successive governors, and the AGs office go to such lengths to suppress documents related to the Tempura investigation. The Aina report relied on the AG’s office, not exactly an impartial body… You claim that Bridger found no evidence of wrongdoing? That’s right, because nobody, especially the higher-ups, break the law in the Cayman Islands. No corruption whatsoever, right?

  7. Driftwood Voter says:

    Deny, deny, deny and deny some more …..and just maybe the public will think it was alllllll a big marl road fabrication. NOT! Who do you think you’re fooling?

  8. Anonymous says:

    If what Bridger says has some substance then he should get off his personal hobby horse and reveal what he knows in the public interest.

    • John Evans says:

      Absolutely, I never held back any of the info I obtained on Tempura so why should he unless his only interest is personal gain.

      • Anonymous says:

        Maybe Mr Evans can explain (on his laptop), how he gained access to the thousands of e mails, voicemails and other phone records, on Cealt.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Sucks to be too low down the food chain to be told what is happening, eh, Alden?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Bridger should’ve published the juicy corruption he unearthed to Wikileaks, and enjoyed his 15 minutes on the speaking circuit. Blackmailing the CIG shows poor judgement.

  11. Anonymous says:

    And yet the Premier was quite happy to ride Duncan’s coat tails in order to hound Mac out the door.

    What a game this politricks.

    • Anonymous says:

      9:19 Then all civil servants would be justified to take/use the county’s money to pay for security, while spend taxpayers money at the slots in Casinos. What a mess.

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