GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands — Four years after it collapsed in 2009 without any charges being filed, a high-level corruption investigation in the Cayman Islands by London’s Metropolitan Police detectives is still making waves in London and the British Overseas Territory.
The latest controversy centers on what was the trigger for the entire investigation – a break-in at the offices of a local newspaper in search of what was portrayed as evidence of collusion between the then deputy commissioner of police and the newspaper’s publisher to supply confidential information about sensitive police operations.
The Scotland Yard detectives quickly concluded that no such leak existed.
Although it was widely known at the time that senior officers in the local police force were privy to the break-in as it was being perpetrated by two of the newspaper’s employees, that particular aspect was thought to have ended with the suspension and later termination of the then commissioner of police.
However, new evidence has now come to light that then Governor Stuart Jack may have approved the break-in himself and, by failing to disclose what he knew to the Scotland Yard detectives, allowed them to pursue fruitless lines of investigation that ultimately ended in a debacle.
Now, Martin Bridger, the senior detective who headed the corruption investigation, Operation Tempura, has claimed that Jack authorised the illegal search during the inquiry into the leak, and never told him about it.
Bridger has asked the Metropolitan Police to investigate whether Jack – and other senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials – misled him and the other Scotland Yard detectives.
This alleged failure by Jack to disclose his decision to approve the warrantless search triggered an investigation of the local police leadership, who were suspected of going “on a frolic of their own”.
Bridger has asked the Metropolitan Police to look into the actions of Jack and other senior FCO colleagues for possible misconduct in public office. The former Scotland Yard anti-corruption expert has said he will hand over all the documents that he holds on the case to investigators – which could prove highly embarrassing to officials in both Britain and the Cayman Islands.
Bridger says in his complaint to police: “They [Jack and other senior officials] concealed from me, and the Metropolitan Police, the fact that they knew of the circumstances of the entry and that the governor had directly authorised it. As a consequence over a number of months we conducted an investigation on a totally false premise.”
Bridger’s request for a Metropolitan Police inquiry is supported by Stuart Kernohan, one of the men he investigated and who was fired as the Cayman Islands police chief as a result.
Kernohan said: “At nearly every juncture, these probes have been resisted… this leads to the inevitable question: What are they hiding?”
Any investigation into the affair could also raise difficult questions for senior FCO officials in London about what they knew, and whether or not they were involved in withholding information.
“Show us the truth,” said Kernohan in a statement. “I have nothing to hide.”