HE: Investigations Misunderstood
Statement by His Excellency the Governor
On Operations Tempura and Cealt
There has been a good deal of misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the intentions and involvement of myself as Governor and of the UK Government in respect of the police corruption investigations known as Operations Tempura and Cealt. I would like, not for the first time, to try to set the record straight.
The one and only intention has been to investigate any serious corruption in the police and to demonstrate determination to set high standards. I believe that is in the interests of good governance and ultimately, of the well-being of this community. That remains true of the ongoing Operation Cealt, which is looking into some allegations of very serious criminality.
There have reportedly been calls by some politicians for an end to these investigations and a clean bill of health for the Cayman Islands. My aim, and the aim of the Police Commissioner, is to ensure a corruption-free outcome for the RCIPS, the focus of these investigations. But in order to get there and provide that clean bill of health, we need to see the process through to its conclusion.
I do not think that the Cayman Islands face the scale of issues we have seen in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and hopefully it never will. But we would be deluding ourselves if we thought that this country has been totally free of any corrupt or unethical behaviour in the police or elsewhere in public life, or that such problems could not occur in the future.
Despite the anti-Tempura atmosphere that has developed, I continue to believe that most people in these Islands, including the vast majority of police officers, want to see an end to any suspicion of corruption and want to see high standards. Individual members of the public still come up to me and encourage me not to be put off by certain politicians, or comments on the talk shows and in anonymous blogs.
So why that anti-Tempura atmosphere? Why the calls to stop any further investigations?
Some people are genuinely and understandably concerned about the time the investigations have taken, and the considerable cost. With them, I can sympathise.
Some are worried about Cayman's reputation. That is a legitimate concern, but the best way to protect the country's reputation is to dispose of allegations one way or the other, not leave them hanging in the air.
Some feel that the investigations are unfairly targeted at Caymanians. That is totally untrue. Corrupt police officers will be dealt with, irrespective of nationality. Non-Caymanian officers have faced prosecution and dismissal during my time here.
Other people may want to try to use Tempura as a stick with which to beat the UK. If their aim is independence, they should come out and say so. To link somehow these investigations with the UK's views on financial services, tax matters, or the Territory's public finances, and to suggest a conspiracy to damage Cayman is, as I have said on numerous occasions, ludicrous. There is no such conspiracy.
Yet others seek political control of the police. The National Security Council under the new Constitution will give the people of the Cayman Islands more say over the strategies and policies adopted by the RCIPS. But the UK was rightly not prepared to give politicians in Cayman, or in any other Overseas Territory, control over police operations or the appointment of senior police officers, in order to maintain the independence of the police in upholding the law impartially and without favour. The Governor too cannot interfere in operational matters such as who is arrested or prosecuted, though he is briefed on such issues.
A few people may have other reasons why they do not wish to see the investigations continue or succeed.
I accept overall responsibility for the police, and that includes these investigations. I supported the-then Commissioner of Police when he invited in the Metropolitan Police in 2007. I continue to support the ongoing efforts under the present Commissioner, both to investigate a number of allegations made by members of the public, and to improve the RCIPS, including better professional standards and more secure handling of information. We must get to a situation where there are no major shadows hanging over the RCIPS and where any future allegations can, with full public confidence, be handled within the police service or by an independent local body. And we need to get to a situation where matters can be handled at minimum cost.
Wherever I have had to take a decision linked to these investigations, I have sought local legal advice and consulted more widely. I have, on many occasions, queried why the investigations have taken so long and have urged care over the cost.
However, I do not hold the purse strings: I did not, for example, decide the contractual terms on which the government hired the services of the Tempura and Cealt investigators. To be fair to those who did, I would encourage people to read the management response at the end of the Auditor General's report.
The Public Management and Finance Law does not give the Governor any spending powers. Those powers are vested in Chief Officers working with budgets approved by the Cabinet - which in practice means the elected Ministers - and ultimately by the Legislative Assembly. The Governor is not invited to the key meetings on public expenditure.
The Governor is not in practice all-powerful. On the contrary. He is generally expected under the Constitution to accept the advice of Cabinet whether or not he personally agrees with it.
The Governor's reserve powers are only used on very rare occasions. In my four years I have used them only once, on instructions from the Secretary of State in London. And that was not just to enable the investigations to continue, but also to safeguard the Cayman Islands from reputational damage and potentially even greater financial repercussions by failing to pay moneys as directed by a judge.
The many twists and turns of Operation Tempura were not predictable. I have acknowledged that some mistakes were made, but not as many as the critics claim.
I remain unable to say as much as I would like about Operations Tempura and Cealt for legal reasons. I must not prejudice ongoing investigations into - I repeat - some serious matters. Nor must I prejudice ongoing legal proceedings. That is in part to protect the Cayman Islands from further expensive legal liabilities and in part to protect civic-minded people who have bravely come forward with information.
I look forward to the day when the whole story can be told.
In the meantime, for my remaining weeks as Governor, I will continue to carry out my constitutional responsibilities in good faith, as a public servant who has no hidden agenda, no personal, political or financial affiliations or ambitions in Cayman, but who genuinely desires a bright future for these Islands based on high standards, a clean international reputation, and a constructive relationship with the United Kingdom.
15 October 2009