GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) -- The former senior investigating officer of the discredited anti-corruption probe in the Cayman Islands known as Operation Tempura has told CNS that he has “new and incriminating” evidence about that investigation.
Martin Bridger, Head of Operation Tempura
Martin Bridger also said he was never interviewed by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) regarding complaints he made about senior officials, which the governor, Helen Kilpatrick, has told him are not in the public interest to investigate. She has, however, allowed an enquiry into counter allegations against him to continue for almost three years, holding up the release of a controversial report, which remains the subject of an freedom of information request that has dragged on for four years.
In early 2013, Bridger made allegations of criminal conduct against former governor Stuart Jack, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin and Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) security adviser Larry Covington, which were based on statements from former senior police officers.
Bridger told CNS that neither he nor the witnesses supporting his allegations have ever been interviewed about those complaints.
However, Police Commissioner David Baines wrote to Bridger in July 2013 informing him that counter allegations had been made against him, but he has never been interviewed about those allegations either.
Following the latest revelations from the Information Commissioner’s Office last week, Bridger talked to CNS about the developments (or lack thereof) in his complaint about the three high-ranking officials.
“I informed the RCIPS that I had other evidence to support the allegation and I would need to be seen to explain the complexities and inter connectivity of the evidence and that a full witness statement would be required to be taken from me,” he said this weekend.
“I and other key witnesses were not seen by any officer from RCIPS. In a relatively short period of time the allegations I had made were dismissed by the RCIPS,” Bridger said, noting that no reasons have ever been given to him as to why those allegations were dismissed.
“I later complained to Governor Helen Kilpatrick that I did not believe the RCIPS had carried out an investigation of my allegations to an acceptable standard. Her response was, and remains, that it is not in the public interest to have the complaint investigated.
“I cannot understand how the person responsible for policing in the Cayman Islands has made the decision that it is not in the public interest to investigate a legitimate complaint against her commissioner of police. It does seem that the rhetoric of openness, transparency and good governance is being compromised by the continued and ongoing efforts to keep material away from public scrutiny,” Bridger stated.
Questions about what exactly the local authorities are hiding regarding the possible culpability of the governor’s office, the UK’s security advisor or the attorney general remain unanswered, as senior officials try desperately to keep a lid on evidence over how Tempura was managed.
Bridger said the authorities’ efforts to hide the truth about Tempura were reinforced again this week by Baines’ threat to the Information Commissioner during his most recent review of the FOI request for the original complaint he made in 2010 to the governor at the time, Duncan Taylor, and Taylor’s report regarding that complaint.
Bridger said he had recently told Kilpatrick that since his 2010 complaint, which is the subject of the ICO’s recent ruling, and his 2013 allegations of a crime, he was in possession of “new and incriminating evidence” that was not available to him in 2010 when he made his first complaint to Taylor.
Kilpatrick said he should submit this new evidence to Baines. However, Bridger said that, given the circumstances surrounding this case and Baines’ dismissal in a matter of weeks of Bridger’s complaint compared to the three-year ongoing probe against him, he said he had decided not to follow her advice.
“For 30 months Baines has been investigating me in respect of the counter allegations made,” Bridger stated. ”Recently he informed me he is almost ready to interview me but he is still waiting to receive some documents. On the face of it, this seems to be an exorbitant length of time to complete the investigation.”
That particular point was not missed by Acting Information Commissioner Jan Liebaers, who has ruled once again that Bridger’s original complaint and the report by Taylor dismissing his allegations should be released with redactions relating to the Bridger enquiry. But in his ruling Liebaers said he would revisit the need for those redactions in six months and determine what is happening regarding this investigation.
However, efforts by the authorities to keep this report secret would be undermined if Bridger was ever tried because he would use the complaint to support his own case.
“If and when I am interviewed by the RCIPS, I shall be making reference to the Duncan Taylor (FCO) findings, as some of the contents will be crucial to my defence. Any attempt to prevent me from doing so would run the risk of impeding my right to a fair trial,” Bridger added.
While the governor’s office continues to fight tooth and nail to keep a lid on all the details regarding the truth of Tempura, a considerable amount has been released into the public domain anyway.
The first complaint by Martin Polaine (Tempura’s legal advisor) and Bridger was about why the investigation was closed down, as well as issues regarding the legal rulings, legal advice and decisions made surrounding the arrest of former Grand Court judge, Alex Henderson, which was ruled as unlawful. However, former police commissioner Rudy Dixon was arrested, charged and tried under the same law. (Dixon was acquitted of all charges.)
Larry Covington, Stuart Jack and Samuel Bulgin
The subsequent criminal complaint by Bridger in 2013, however, relates to accusations that the governor, Stuart Jack, and others lied to him during the course of his investigation about what they knew about an alleged unlawful entry into the office of Desmond Seales, the publisher of Cayman Net News, by two of his staff members, Lyndon Martin and John Evans.
Seales was accused of being a corrupt relationship with RCIPS Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis. That allegation was the original subject of the Operation Tempura enquiry, which Bridger and his officers found to be baseless relatively soon after he arrived here.
Bridger discovered more recently, based on evidence from former police commissioner Stuart Kernohan and former chief superintendent John Jones, who supervised the entry into Seales’ office by Martin and Evans, that Kernohan had informed Jack, Bulgin and Covington of this course of action, a claim they have all denied.
During the course of the trial against Lyndon Martin, who was charged with burglary in relation to that break-in, Kernohan, a crown witness in the case, revealed then he had informed all three of his bosses and had documented evidence of the meetings in which the covert entry was discussed.
This was the basis for Bridger’s accusations of criminal conduct that were quickly dismissed before any interviews were conducted.
Bridger now finds himself in the firing line for misconduct and six other offences in relation to the progress of Tempura. As a result, the former Tempura boss now appears reluctant to reveal his latest ammunition in what continues to be a very costly war of words for the public purse.
Republished with permission of Cayman News Service