November 23, 2020

How much is Tempura Judicial Review going to cost whilst Governor tries to bar public?

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Governor Duncan Taylor

Governor Duncan Taylor

The Cayman Islands Governor, Duncan Taylor, seems to be acting as a modern day Goliath, in his bid to bar the public from knowing any details of Operation Tempura.

Through his lawyers, Taylor is now seeking to have the judicial review to be held ‘in camera’, and for “any submissions made to exclude other parties to protect the confidentiality of the records requested”.

‘In camera’ means the hearing of a trial or hearing, in whole or in part, that is conducted in private and the public galleries are cleared and the doors locked, leaving only the judge, the Court clerk, the parties and lawyers and witnesses in attendance.

It is a rare and infrequent occurrence for a Court to do this as public access and transparency are both paramount to justice.

However, the legal findings in support of the governor’s application for judicial review claims, “It is necessary to modify the court’s procedure in these proceedings as otherwise the procedure would frustrate the purpose of the proceedings. The Freedom of Information Law would be fundamentally undermined if, in order to determine whether information was exempt from disclosure, the court brought about the disclosure of that information in any event.”

Stuart Jack

Stuart Jack

The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have stood by Cayman’s previous governor, Stuart Jack, who started the ill fated and costly debacle known as Operation Tempura. The FCO controls all of Britain’s governors but when they mess up it is the country they govern that usually foots the bill.

And it is the Cayman Islands that have had to foot this one. Jack’s Tempura investigation has seen Cayman’s judges at some point arrested, suspended, mired in controversy, a former police chief Stuart Kernohan sacked, UK police sent out here to clean house making the situation even worse under the direction (or non-direction) of now disgraced Scotland Yard’s John Yates and his equally questionable side-kick Martin Bridger, top lawyers, and judges flown in from around the world, with not one successful prosecution.

Martin Bridger

Martin Bridger

Even worse, some of the accused have been awarded costly settlements, also paid for by us, whilst others are waiting in the wings to have their pay day.

With the bill for some of this already estimated at $30M (the official estimated figure is much lower) we then had Governor Taylor ordering a 185 page review of a complaint filed by Bridger (originally filed and then withdrawn by former and also now disgraced Tempura legal advisor Martin Polaine), who has since been made the scapegoat for the mess and is fighting back like a David, that cost us another $300,000 to produce but its contents withheld from the public. Taylor said words to the effect it was not in our best interests to actually know the truth because there were claims contained therein about sitting members of the Cayman Islands judiciary that are untrue and that could potentially be defamatory.

commissioner_stuart_kernoha

Stuart Kernohan

Then ex Cayman Net News reporter, John Evans, who was used and then dumped by the powers that employed him to light the match under the Tempura bonfire, made a complaint to the Cayman Islands Information Commissioner, Jennifer Dilbert, to have the release of the Tempura documents made  public. Dilbert sided on the right hand side of justice and ordered their release that included Bridger’s original complaint.

Governor Taylor then, leading a charge with the might of every single expensive lawyer at his command, asked for a judicial review claiming Dilbert’s decision was unreasonable.

Documents iNews Cayman have in our possession shows the main issue filed in Taylor’s review application pertains to section 54(1) of the Freedom of Information Law that states: “Nothing in this law shall be construed as authorising the disclosure of any official record (a) containing any defamatory matter or (b) the disclosure of which would be in breach of confidence or of intellectual property rights.”

Because it would have been difficult to have a Cayman judge rule on whether the judicial review could go ahead it was left to an English high court judge, Sir Alan Moses, to make a decision. He, not unsurprisingly, last 8th February, ruled in favour of Governor Taylor to enable the review to go ahead. This has stayed Dilbert’s November order for the documents to be released.

So how much additionally is all of this going to cost our Country? A budget figure of over $500,000 has been whispered in our ears.

Budgets nearly always over run and so it is likely to cost us even more to suppress information we morally should know. There are laws to combat defamatory matters and the FCO and the governor have taken great pains to tell the Cayman Islands government it must show transparency.

Transparency when it suits the FCO. Don’t do as I do – do as I say. We are the judge, the jury, the executioner and it doesn’t cost us a cent.

But it does cost us and this country is NOT laughing.

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