Bridger seeks to keep secrets

| 22/10/2008

(CNS):  The undisclosed details of the special police investigation took centre stage Tuesday when the Judicial Review concerning the arrest of Justice Alex Henderson and the subsequent search of his home and office resumed. Arguments were made that key evidence to support the warrant being signed by a Justice of the Peace and not the court, given by Martin Bridger, had to remain under wraps otherwise theintegrity of the whole investigation could be under threat.

Flown in from the UK especially to represent the respondents to Henderson’s application for Judicial Review, Nicholas Purnell, QC, argued before the presiding judge, Sir Peter Cresswell, on Tuesday, 21 October, for Public Interest Immunity (PII) regarding elements of an affidavit submitted by the Senior Investigating Officer, Martin Bridger.

Given the sensitivity of the investigation, Purnell argued, some 18 to 20 paragraphs of Bridger’s complete affidavit should not be seen by anyone other than the judge himself otherwise the entire investigation could be compromised. Asked to explain his argument by Cresswell, Purnell said he could not. “I can’t expand because the investigation has a wider impact beyond the private interests of the applicant (Justice Henderson),” he said.

The court heard that the sensitive information contained in Bridger’s affidavit was important when it came to answering Henderson’s applicants for judicial review based on the premise that the warrants to arrest him and seize his property were unlawful. However, Purnell said the unusual circumstances of the case meant that the full details could not be released to Henderson’s legal team as they contained information which not even the Attorney General, Sam Bulgin, could see.

The judge raised numerous concerns throughout the hearing, including that as the matter was about a serving judge whose computer had been seized and which might well contain sensitive information regarding other cases, it needed to be dealt with quickly. “There is a need to get on with this case,” he said on more than one occassion.

However, it appeared the respondents (Bridger et al) were seeking to alter the case management timeline that had been established at Friday’s hearing and were fighting for more time. Purnell argued that the ordinary processes of judicial review were being short circuited by the desire to hear the case quickly and that the respondents still required more time to amass more affidavits and evidence to answer the four main points in Henderson’s application (see  Lawyers say search unlawful).

Purnell noted that in the sections of the affidavit he wished not to disclose to the court there was evidence that would explain the fundamental questions. These questions were set out in Henderson’s application and asked why Carson Ebanks, Chief Officer in the Public Works Ministry who has never before been involved in court proceedings, was chosen to sign the warrants rather than a representative of the courts, and exactly what he was told by Bridger to cause him to sign. The heart of Henderson’s application is that Ebanks was not given full disclosure regarding Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s opinion that Bridger had failed to prove evidence of a crime in earlier applications relating to the wider investigation surrounding Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and Chief Superintendent John Jones.

Purnell argued that the ‘secret’ part of the affidavit would explain this but it could not be seen by others.  “This is to help you decide if there was a failure of disclosure. The applicant does not need to see it,” Purnell stated.

The issue of the PII covering key evidence became the primary issue as the hearing progressed. Raymond Alberga QC, representing Henderson, pointed out that until a decision was made over the PII application they could not continue with the rest of the hearing as he and his client would need to know whether or not they would eventually be privy to the information in Bridger’s affidavit. Cresswell agreed with Alberga but then raised his concerns as to how he could fairly decide on whether to disclose or not.

Purnell argued that PII must be given, and presented various examples of case law to back up the request. He also said that it was within the law for the judge to grant PII to protect the identity of someone under investigation by police who may not know he is being investigated, and the QC suggested that this was illustrative of the current circumstances.

Cresswell noted he would seek the advice of the Attorney General, who should be the person seeking to protect the public interest. However Purnell said he objected to the AG seeing the details of Bridger’s affidavit as the AG was likely to be a witness if the special investigation brought a prosecution with regards to the wider case.

Pushing Purnell on exactly who he was representing, who was authorizing the request for PII and who had the public’s interests at heart, Cresswell asked the QC to explain the basics. While Purnell expressed his own uncertainty as to who he was actually acting for, he said he believed, having cut short his holiday in France on Saturday after being instructed by UK based solicitors on behalf of Cayman Solicitors, he was representing the Commissioner of Police.

Even though the applicant’s legal team presented a letter from Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis stating that the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service had nothing to do with Bridger’s investigation, Acting Commissioner David George was called to the hearing. On appearance, George stated that as Acting Commissioner he was responsible for Bridger and his various officers in a professional sense as they were sworn into the RCIPS as special constables, but given the unusual circumstances he was not briefed on the details of the investigation. He explained that Bridger reported to the Governor and the Strategic Oversight Committee.

Alberga suggested that Bridger and his officers were on a rampage of their own and that the issue regarding his affidavit was of enormous concern to his client. Alberga’s legal team also noted that if the real motive behind Bridger’s warrant to search Henderson’s home, office and computer was to find evidence against someone else then this would change the applicant’s case and further question the integrity of the warrants and the bad faith issues surrounding them.

Cresswell adjourned the hearing after a full day’s arguments, citing his significant concerns surrounding the PII application and asked if Purnell could not argue his case in another way or come forward with another solution so that he, as judge over the judicial review, would not be forced to rule on the PII. “I don’t find this situation satisfactory,”added  the Judge “Given the importance to the applicant and the sensitivity of these paragraphs, can you not see if there is some other way of solving this problem.”

Proceedings will resume today, Wednesday 21 October, when the Attorney General Samuel Bulgin is expected to attend.

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Comments (9)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I am beginning to beleive that Mr. investigator may be confused himself. 

    Or may be Mr. Investigator thinks he has some moral code to comply with keeping reporters and the public busy guessing what foolishness he has found now.  Lord Action said it best when he said "If some great catastrophe is not announced every morning, we feel a certain void. Nothing in the paper today, we sigh".

    I say no need to fill this apparent void, I am busy enough as is and can fill that with other things except feeble attempts to find anything significant with this oh so wrong and wasting money investigation.  Did I mention the entire country thinks it is a waste?

    Anyway back to work for me and back to vacation and novel prep for Mr. Investigator.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Your reader wrote:

    "This is the most disgraceful and shamless slap in the face of the Cayman people in its brief history.  Do you think this type of investigation could go like this in jolly old England: absolutely outrageous!!"

    Yes, in today’s "…jolly old England…".

    The RULE OF LAW has been killed by recent UK Law Lords judgments, July 30, 2008 upholding the stopping of the Scotland Yard Serious Fraud Office investigation into the BAE and UK Government’s part in the UK Government / Saudi Arabia UK Pounds 2 Billion bribery for military contracts (http://www.controlbae.org) and today October 22, 2008 the Law Lords overturned High Court decisions to allow the Chagos Islands peoples to return to their island homeland. In the late 1960’s the UK illegally and forcefully expelled the Chagossians for the USA to build a military base, on their island Diego Garcia.

    Some Web Links:

    (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldjudgmt/jd081022/banc-1.htm )(http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7683726.stm )(http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7684254.stm )(http://www.freedocumentaries.org/film.php?id=166 ). 

    All of this abuse of power by the HMG in "…jolly old England…" reveals how that government has always been corrupt.

    All of this abuse of power is said done in the "Public’s Interest", "National Security", "National Interests", etc.   Whe in fact it is all protecting a corrupt governance system.

    “For as in absolute governments the King is law,
    so in free countries the law ought to be King;
    and there ought to be no other.”
    Thomas Paine, Common Sense 1776

    Centuries ago others knew their system was seriously flawed.

     LD Day, July 30, 2008, is the day Rule of Law officially died in the UK – celebrate with shame.

    In the revised Cayman Islands Constitution we are continuing with this flawed system of the almighty powerful Parliamentary Demoracy governance system, a system which interprets law as they want to from day to day for political expediency, this is elected dictatorship.

     

     

     

  3. Anonymous says:

    while we have a possible serial killer on the lose, rapest  on the lose , coruptinon in many statury boards  etc this group from England is here playing hardie  boys mistery  and its all about  a break in to a publishers office that i am made to understand has no doors or locks and situated in a room with multiple staff members?  our contry will be distroyed by these pesons and sadley paid for by us. Mr governor please wake up and disclose something very serious. the criminals are laughing as you attact the judges cayman awaits your announcements?

  4. Deeply Concerned Caymanian says:

    What I find amazing is that Mr. Bridger is at the moment the most powerful man other than the governer in the Cayman Islands. Sitting Parliment, Leader of Gov. Leader of the Opposition and the Attorney General all pale in comparison to what this man knows and how far his power extends.  Here is a thought; is this just a way to destabalize the island or is there truly fire?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I hope Judge Cresswell finds his way through the muck Bridger is slinging to hide his own dirt.  Bridger is supposed seeking truth and accountability and transparency — but clearly does not practice what he preaches.

    How can the applicant challenge the  veracity of anything raised in the affidavit, if he is not allowed to see it?  Bridger is unfairly expecting to put just his position alone before the judge without it being subject to challenge! Ridiculous.

    Cresswell has correctly pointed out that a Public Interest Immunity defence can only be raised by the Atorney General, the principal legal advisor to the Government  of the people of the Cayman Islands – which includes the Governor and this secret Steering Committee.  Since Bridger has not involved the AG, he cannot use a defence of PII.

    Very curious — If the AG cannot act because he is going to be a witness, who on earth would be prosecuting that case on behalf of Cayman people – if the AG is not going to do so since he is involved as a witness? 

    Bridger cannot expect the benefits and protection – such as claiming a public interest immunity defence – of the same rules of law that he is IGNORING!   Bridger does not follow the same processes to get search warrants and is bucking the system – under the guise of a "corruption investigation". But if he expects to buck the system and circumvent the court and legal processes, he cannot now call on the protection of the same system that he is breaking! Or better yet, demand entitlement to protection of a legal defence that on the AG can make on behalf of the Cayman people – when he does not want the AG to know either??

    Well, if the AG can’t know, he cannot endorse or sanction the investigation or Bridger’s tactics, so Bridger should be left to dry on that limb that he has crawled out on – all by himself. And take the Governor with you.

    This is the most disgraceful and shamless slap in the face of the Cayman people in its brief history.  Do you think this type of investigation could go like this in jolly old England: absolutely outrageous!!

     

  6. Anonymous says:

    Struggling to cares how he is to be addressed. There are far greater issues for the Cayman Islands at stake, than possibly offending the sensibilities of some QC who is having trouble ascertaining the identity of his actual client. It is to laugh.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      I take your point that there are far greater issues at stake, but for the sake of Sir Peter Cresswell is the Judge rather than counsel.  

      There is something very troubling about the conduct of this investigation. There is no check and no balance, no regard for our legal framework; just unbridled power to squander our scarce resources on a questionable investigation which so far has borne little fruit.

  7. Chris Randall says:

    A knight of the realm should be referred to by ‘Sir’ folowed by his christian name; i.e. Sir Peter. It is correct to refer to ‘Sir Peter Cresswell’ (in this instance) at first mention, but thereafter ‘Sir Peter’ would be the correct form.