A hearing got under way Tuesday in Grand Court Judge Richard Williams’ chambers pitting Cayman Islands Attorney General Samuel Bulgin against former police special investigator Martin Bridger.
Although a court list initially appeared to state the matter would be held in “Chambers as open Court”, a decision was made Tuesday morning to bar the media and the public from attending.
Typically, hearings in Cayman Islands judges’ chambers are not held in public.
The disagreement putting the Cayman Islands against its former senior investigating officer in the ill-fated Operation Tempura probe has caused months of delay in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against the government by former Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Commissioner Stuart Kernohan.
The hearing is set to continue through Thursday, according to court schedules.
According to court records obtained by the Caymanian Compass, Mr. Bulgin has filed a claim in Grand Court seeking to prevent the release of certain documents in court. Those documents are held by Mr. Bridger.
Precisely what those records might contain is unknown, but it’s clear the government is keen to keep them under wraps.
Court records filed in October 2011 state: “The grounds of this application are that, as set out in detail in the first affidavit of Vicki Ann Ellis [former Cayman Islands Solicitor General], the defendant [Mr. Bridger} has threatened to disclose in the Kernohan proceedings certain privileged documents in circumstances where the court is entitled to and should restrain him from doing so.”
Mr. Bridger was sued along with the Cayman Islands government in a writ filed by Mr. Kernohan back in 2009, claiming that the Operation Tempura probe and actions of then-Cayman Islands Governor Stuart Jack cost Mr. Kernohan his contract with the RCIPS.
Legal proceedings in Cayman last year ended up removing Mr. Jack from the lawsuit and also revealed that Mr. Bridger, who served during a portion of Operation Tempura as a paid member of the RCIPS, had been cast adrift by government to look after his own defence in the lawsuit.
Former Acting RCIPS Commissioner James Smith was also removed from the lawsuit during the 2011 hearing.
Mr. Kernohan’s attorneys have acknowledged that their client’s claim was being held up by matters outside their control.
By a letter dated 27 March, 2008, Mr. Jack placed Mr. Kernohan on required leave along with two other former RCIPS officers who became embroiled in the Operation Tempura probe. The writ filed by Mr. Kernohan’s attorneys states this was unlawful and in breach of the contract, which contained no term permitting the governor to do so.
The letter included a condition that Mr. Kernohan could not leave the island, which amounted to false imprisonment, his lawyers claimed. The former police commissioner was eventually fired after he refused to return to Cayman on Mr. Jack’s orders.