Today's Date: 26 November 2015
Last Updated: 25 November 2015 18:20:59 EST
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Operation Tempura complaint ordered released

In a stunning ruling, Cayman Islands Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert ordered the release of a controversial complaint filed by the former chief investigator and the ex-legal advisor for the ill-fated Operation Tempura corruption probe. 


Mrs. Dilbert also ordered Governor Duncan Taylor’s office to release a response that evaluated the claims put forth in the complaint filed by Martin Polaine and Martin Bridger. Governor Taylor said the complaint was without merit following the issuance of a 185-page review done on it by a UK-based Queen’s Counsel. 


Previous open records requests for the complaint documents filed by the Caymanian Compass and a private citizen in the United Kingdom were foiled when the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office declined to release them on the grounds they could prejudice relations between Britain and its overseas territory.  


A similar request, made by John Evans – a former witness in the Operation Tempura investigation here in Cayman – was filed with the governor’s office. It was rejected on the grounds that releasing the records would cause Mr. Taylor’s office to publish materials that were defamatory.  


The complaint filed by Mr. Polaine and later carried forward by Mr. Bridger involved certain allegations against members of the Cayman Islands judiciary and representatives of the attorney general’s office in connection with the Tempura probe.  


Operation Tempura was a two-year, $10 million investigation into alleged misconduct within the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service that was active in between September 2007 and roughly the end of 2009.  


On Thursday Mrs. Dilbert wrote to Mr. Evans and to the governor’s office informing them of her decision. In it, she made the groundbreaking declaration that a section of the Cayman Islands’ Freedom of Information Law – which seeks to prevent the release of defamatory matter – was “not justifiable in a democratic society”.  


“I consider that subsection 54 (1) [of the FOI Law] disproportionately restricts the right to free expression,” Mrs. Dilbert wrote in a lengthy ruling.  


“It is one of the most impressive and detailed FOI decisions I have ever seen and if the governor challenges it he’s just wasting time and public money,” Mr. Evans said Thursday night.  


Public money was one of many deciding factors in Mrs. Dilbert’s decision. She cited the fact that the 185-page evaluation of Mr. Bridger’s complaint cost Cayman Islands taxpayers more than $300,000 to complete. Attorney Benjamin Aina, QC., performed the review.  


The governor’s office now has 45 days to seek to challenge the release of the records in Grand Court. If it does not do so, both the complaint and the response to the complaint must be published  


Please see more on this story in upcoming editions of the Caymanian Compass… 

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