Martin Bridger, SIO of Operation Tempura
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) -- Since the first complaint was made back in 2010 about the way the discredited and costly Operation Tempura anti-corruption investigation in the Cayman Islands 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 government 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 dollars 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 ruling by the acting Information Commissioner, 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 in the Cayman Islands 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 seen 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 an ongoing freedom of information 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 then governor 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 that 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.
Republished with permission of Cayman News Service