Top cop says sorry to judge

| 24/12/2008

(CNS): For the first time since his arrest the police have made a public apology to Justice Alex Henderson and admitted in open court that both the arrests and search warrants were unlawful. The latest Acting Police Commissioner, James Smith, stood to make the apology on behalf of the RCIPS and also members of the Special Police Investigating Team, SIO Martin Bridger and Richard Coy, who arrested Henderson on 24 September 2008.

As the Attorney General’s office, now representing the police with regards to the Henderson case, had not contested the claims in the second judicial review before presiding judge Sir Peter Cresswell, the visiting expert judge made the official declarations that the arrest was unlawful on 23 December in the Grand Court, following which Smith also made his public apology.

After the reading of his judgement on the arrest and his official declaration, Cresswell said it was inappropriate to comment too much since the issue of damages was still to be resolved but that the circumstances warranted a very speedy resolution because of the seriousness of the errors committed by Senior Investigators and the fact that Henderson was a serving judge.

“The extraordinary failure of Mr Bridger and his adviser has caused very serious damage to Justice Henderson and his family,” said Cresswell. He pointed to the fact that the judge had not only suffered unlawful conduct but it was most regrettable that there had been such a delay on the part of the police to admit it was unlawful. “These extraordinary failures will have a wider impact,” he added. “It is important to the Cayman Islands that the police should act properly to all citizens.”

During his ruling Cresswell cited numerous media statements and correspondence where neither Bridger nor the governor had taken the opportunity to admit that the arrests and warrants were unlawful and apologise to Henderson.

However, he allowed Smith to take the stand and make a short and full apology. Smith told the judge that while he had only been in post for a few weeks the first thing he realised about the special investigation on his arrival was that an apology was required for Henderson.

“As Acting Commissioner of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, I wish to offer my heartfelt unreserved apology on behalf of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service to Justice Henderson for personal distress, reputational damages and professional embarrassment caused to him and his family as a result of the unlawful arrest and the subsequent unlawful searches of both his home and work place,” said Smith. “Martin Bridger and Richard Coy also wish to express sincere apologies to Justice Henderson and his family for the unlawful arrest and searches.”

The apology was an adaptation of the one first given to Cresswell when the hearing opened on Monday 22 December, which he had noted did not acknowledge that the arrest and searches were unlawful.

Once the revised apology had been read, Cresswell thanked the Acting Commissioner but then quickly moved on to the need for both parties to try to reach agreement on damages, avoiding the need for a hearing, and bringing a speedy resolution. However, he established a hearing schedule in case a settlement could not be reached out of the court room. The timetable was considerably shorter that the legal representatives had requested and Cresswell was unsympathetic to requests for more time by Douglas Schofield, the assistant solicitor general representing Bridger and the police . Cresswell said his client had made serious errors and there was a need to have it addressed quickly. The hearing if required was set for mid-February 2009.

Schofieldconfirmed that Henderson’s legal team’s costs would me met by the Cayman Islands government and that Finance Committee would resume on 15 January to appropriate those funds, but no offer was made for any interim damages payment on account.

One other issue which also arose during the day’s proceedings was of particular concern to Cresswell as it involved the court receiving incorrect information during the first judicial review in October and he was very keen to correct the situation.

During the complex revelations of the original judicial review, which found the search warrants issued against Henderson to search his home and office to be illegal, the court heard some of the advice for the drafting of the information on which the warrants were issued came from Andre’ Mon Desir, who was the former Special Counsel to the special investigation and practicing in Cayman.

However, after the ruling was handed down on 29 October Mon Desir contacted the Cayman media to inform them that he had never advised the investigating team on the Henderson case. Schofield told the judge that the legal advice on the information had actually come from Martin Polaine the legal adviser from the UK who was not familiar with Cayman Islands law and who had also given Bridger the advice for which Henderson’s arrestwas based.

On discovering the court had been misinformed, Cresswell said that if it was wrong he should have been told at the time in the interests of accuracy. More importantly he said the issue of the qualifications of who was advising the police was hugely material to the first judicial review. “I express profound disquiet that the court was misinformed,” he noted. Making a footnote to his original ruling, he said that Mon Desir should be sent a copy explaining what had happened.

When the review was over, Henderson’s legal representatives Ramon Alberga, QC, and Shaun McCann of Campbells expressed their pleasure with the outcome. However, Bridger, who had been present throughout the proceedings, made no comment on Cresswell’s damning condemnation of his “extraordinary failures”.

Smith said that while the situation was still in litigation it was inappropriate for him to make comment but he was hopeful that he would be able to comment more on the wider situation with Operation Tempura once the Henderson chapter was closed.

     

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Comments (16)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    All I have to say is that I am not going to pay Henderson the $2.5million he has agreed to settle out of court for.  I am calling the entire nation of the Cayman Islands to file an emergency injuction and stop from paying this settlement. 

    We did not create this mess and we ARE NOT GOING TO PAY.  Every Caymanian lawyer out there who has some balls and not blinded by the dollar signs in your eyes and haven’t sold out this country as yet to pool your professionalism together and stop this settlement from going through.

    We also want to call for the IMMEDIATE resignation of Judge Henderson because we feel his judgements going forward will be biased and prejudicial.  How can we trust him!!

    We have to realize like a previous writer has stated that we have to wake up and smell the coffee, but not only must we do this we need to realize that we are under attack and this is just the beginning, there is more to come unless we the people of the Cayman Islands declare a ‘no confidence’ in our leaders and move them out of their positions now before we drown in the mountain of feaces they are shovelling for us.

    TAKE THIS COUNTRY BACK BEFORE WE GET DEEPER INTO DEBT.  STOP THE ATTACK, STOP IT ALL NOW.  REMOVE WHO HAS TO BE REMOVED AND DO IT ALL AT ONCE, CLEAN ALL THE HOUSES OUT – THE GLASS HOUSE, THE GOVERNORS HOUSE, THE JUDICIARY etc….. clean it up now before it kills us all!

    • Anonymous says:

      Your outrage is understandable, but this is what we will continue to be saddled with if we do not advance our constitution and cause those who make these decisions to be accountable. You should declare ‘no confidence’ in those leaders who are seeking to thwart that.

    • Twyla M Vargas says:

      ALL I HAVE TO SAY IS

      I AGREE WITH ALL THAT YOU SAID/

      Greedy Lawyers now who has made a life off Cayman, now they want to make a killing.  Shame on you, give it up and have some remorse.

      It just goes to show dont care how much you give a foreigner he cant get enough here, and wont stop until the well is dry.

      Be careful Mr Henderson, you may loose your healing.  God has a strange way of dealig  with those who cant get enough.   Why the !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!should the people of cayman take up the tab.

  2. Bracker says:

    Well, I guess my fellow Cayman Bracker, Burmon Scott, who was humiliated by being taken off of his job in the presence of co-workers and customers, arrested and then thrown in the back of the Central Police Station in the cells where he has put so many offenders over the years, is not worthy of an apology. This man may not be a judge but HE IS NO CRIMINAL. He is an outstanding Cayman Bracker who has contributed to this community and his name has been ruined because of this costly and useless investigation. Shame on everyone involved in what was done to Mr. Scott!!!!

  3. The KY Observer says:

    I have a question.

    If based on the ruling in both matters and the observations made in each ruling why have we not seen an investigation opened into the UNLAWFUL acts committed by The tempura team.

    The only thing left for the judge to say following both rulings was "I now turn this matter over for commessment of formal investigation into abuse of office, false arrest unlawful detention etc"

    I also have an observation:

    The Cayman Islands has now witnessedfirst hand the full compitence and professionalism of the MET (Scotland Yard)

    I find it truely ironic that the police service which caused the most damage to the public trust of the united kingdom due to corruption, and who because of the actions of its corrupt officers has served as the catalyst for the enactment of most of the anti corruption legislation the UK has once again had one of its officers (Bridger came to Cayman as a serving MET officer) again featured in a corruption case.

    The truely ironic fact is that it is the officer charged with investigating misconduct, who has actually been found to have committed the gravest breaches of  all sice the investigations commenced. What is even more trubeling is the fact that the new acting commissioner and the governor but beleive that the SIO if a competent and professional individual.

    This is scary because this is the same induivdual who did not have the wit or common sence to stop by the legislative assembly and purchase a copy of the criminal procedure code or the penal code and read exactly what CI law says concerning offences which he charged to investigate. Was this incompentence, arrogance or just plain stupidity.

    An the excuse of "My advisor advised me wrong" does not wash. If your advisor tells you to go and restrain a person from their liberty (arrest) without giving you section and law from LOCAL statute which authorise you to make such an arrest, as an officer of over 20 years experience you know dam well not to proceed until you have satisfied the question of the legality of the actions for which you are about to proceed. Especially if you have been investigating Police Corruption for as long as you claim you have been.

    This is a case which could have been investigated and resolved in a matter of weeks, and i dear anyone to prove different. (If a murder where 2 persons abduct a woman, unseen can be resolved in less than a month. Why couldnt a case, what in essence ammounted to a supposed burglary, be resolved sooner. All parties provided accounts of what ad transpired from a very early stage, the Chief Justice gave his opinion early in the year)

    I will wait tosee the outcome following these rulings. I do know that had it been a local serving as the SIO on tis matter he/she would have been fired so fast that there shaddow would be trying to catch up to them a day after.

    in closing, What galls me is the fact that it is now the RCIP who will forever be tarnished with this feces. The SPIT team reported to no RCIP officer nor were their actions supervised by the RCIP untill the arrival of Smith, nor did not take legal counsel from the Legal Department as is standard practice within the RCIP. All special constables are suppose to report to the commissioner or the comandant of the special constabulary, tempura officers did not.

    Perhaps if they had been trained in LOCAL laws and procedured  this fiasco would not have occured.

    In any event I would like to see, but doublt very much it will happen, a total seperation of the RCIP’s involvement in this matter prior to Smiths arival. It is a diservice to the hard work and reputation of the true officers of the RCIP to be tarnshied and associated with the gross incopentence and unprofessional behavior of the Temura team. I do not beleive that within the last 15 years i have ever heard of an RCIP officer making such monmutal blunders, not even a constable with 1 weeks worth of police experience.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hey Mr. Cop.(Mr. Smith)

    "Top cop says sorry to judge"

    That was a very "Manley" thing to have done in cases where there are "No Corruption" investigations taking place, and "No Unprofessional" work being carried out such as the case with the Governor, Mr. Stuart Jack and Mr. Bridger and the SPIT Team against Mr. Henderson.

     As a Professional carreered person, I thought it was to put one self to a very Low standard to make such an apology to the World and Mr. Henderson for such elementary police work carried out by such, as you deemed it professional Police Officers. But then again I do respect the fact that you seem to love your trade.

      Yes it is very nice to make apologies when someone does wrong, but it sure as hec bothers me as a Caymanian to know that You, the SPIT Team and the Governor has come to the resue of four million dollars worth of your Unworthy investigations and all at the expence of the Caymanian people.

      Now, as we await the Henderson´s Lawsuits and prepare to fight and struggle with the payment of that case, and that you, the SPIT Team with Mr. Bridger and the Governor, Mr. Stuart Jack has pushed down our throats and made to swallow….

      We are asking you, the SPIT Team and the Governor, Mr. Stuart Jack to please hang up your Gloves now, and then pack your bags and go back home. As the soar of the Corruption in Cayman Islands will have to be medicated and treated by some other than the Governor and the SPIT Team with more Professionalism and care than by HE Stuart Jack and the SPIT Team with Mr. Bridger.

       Please Caymanian people, wake up and smell the aroma of  this coffee.

     

  5. s ebanks says:

    The Caymanian people are not fooled We can see through the stifling smoke of this situation and how now the main focus is all of a sudden now put on the crucks of this arrest and all this judicial jousting yet the answers still remain unanswered of WHY? and WHAT? was going on here. It is obvious and very very clear that some are above the law, And if you doubt this statement ask yourself this. How many Caymanians over the years have been falsely accused, arrested and reputation destroyed and got Justice or redress in their matters.

  6. Anonymous says:

    You have done it again: "Top Cop" demeans the quality of your journalism.

    • Anne T. Crusayda says:

      You’ve obviously got an issue with this and perhaps it’s time to let it go. When you do your website, feel free to call things as you like. You are beginning to look like you are on a crusade. Give it up. We all know what is implied. Judge by the spirit of the article, not the letter. Now if the grammar and spelling are sub-standard, by all means point it out. Merry Christmas.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Quote from the earlier story – Cresswell noted. “A police officer unfamiliar with the law of the Cayman Islands should, before arresting a citizen of the Cayman Islands, take advice from a lawyer qualified in the law of the Cayman Islands as to whether it is an arrestable offence under the law of the Cayman Islands.”

    FYI – the original charges against Alex were drawn up by lawyers acting for Cayman Net News on the basis of documents released in relation to the Kernohan/Jones search warrants and handed to Bridger effectively as a ‘done deal’.

    I think the current split between the SG and Briudger concerns whether this information should be regarded as confidential or not.

    Incidentally, you might ask Alex if he plans to take any action against Net News over their editorial comments, particularly those published on 1, 2 & 3 October.

    Regards and all the best for the holidays,

    Dave.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dave,

      "FYI – the original charges against Alex were drawn up by lawyers acting for Cayman Net News on the basis of documents released in relation to the Kernohan/Jones search warrants and handed to Bridger effectively as a ‘done deal’".

      If what you say is correct then there is a very serious issue as to on whose behalf Mr. Bridger was acting – Cayman Net News or the Crown. If it is the former then they should indemnify Mr. Bridger for any damages awarded against him.   

       

    • Anonymous says:

      Dave,

      In the Net News editorials of 1st, 2nd and 3rd October for some reason the editor of the Net News assumes that there is a confidential relationship between the newspaper and letter writers and the confidential information is the true identity of the letter writer which is almost certainly incorrect. A journalist does not fall within the definition of "professional person" for the purpose of the Confidential Relationships (Preservation) Law and this is not a confidential relationship. I doubt that he took legal advice before he penned those editorials, unless of course the advice came from Mr. Polaine!    

      • Anonymous says:

        I doubt the editorial writer (who might not even be based in Cayman) regards themselves as subject to the real laws. Bear in mind the repeated editorial references to ECHR Article 8(1) as thought it operates in isolation of Article 8(2), which qualifies these rights and gives scope for the authorities to conduct overt and covert investigations. The editorials suggest the writer believes that 8(1) is an ‘absolute’ right, something that is clearly not the case in the widely published documents on ECHR.

        To the previous contributor, I suggest you check the original complaints made public by Net News. They don’t read like a criminal rap sheet (which as it transpires they were not) filed by the police but more like the start of a civil beef between two parties. Quite how Bridger and the team got dragged into it is a bit of a mystery as is their decision to selectively quote from witness statements when they must have known that access to full statements (which were in the public domain) would destroy the case. It just doesn’t look to me like the work of experienced, professional police officers.

        It’s particularly interesting that earlier in 2008 Bridger declined to follow up quite clear breaches of Cayman Islands’ criminal law by Net News who, amongst other matters, commented on details that were clearly sub judice and attacked a Crown witness (both blatant instances of contempt of court) but decided to go on this ‘wild goose chase.’

        There’s a lot of things that need to be made public (not least of which is the true source of those letters) and we must hope that HE now has guts to swallow hispride and deal with this before the media in the UK (and probably Canada as well) start tearing into the credibility of the Cayman Islands as a whole.

  8. Twyla M Vargas says:

    LESSON   LEARNED    POINT TAKEN

    An apology was the correct thing to do, Remember it takes a community to raise a child, and a MAN to say I am sorry.

    Christ was crucified for 30.00 dollars what did Judas gain.   Trusting in God  does not have a price, Its faith, and a matter of time.

    Be Blessed

  9. Anonymous says:

    It’s about time that the RCIPS made a "Public Apology" to Judge Henderson. However, it is not good enough for the Caymanian public that just the Act. Commissioner of Police do this. Martin Bridger, Stuart Jack and Martin Polaine personally should do likewise.

    I have to ask the question, what kind of legal advisor is it that Stuart Jack and Martin Bridger hired from England whom they based all their decisions on, when in fact the legal advisor did not have the legal mind to simply check the "Criminal Procedure Code" to see if an offence is arrestable or not according to Law ????

    I am not an attorney, but as a former police officer, the first thing that I was taught as a recruit in Police Training many years ago is, "What is an arrestable offence and where is it in law do I get my powers of arrest from ???" This is very straight forward and to the best of my knowledge, I don’t think since the forming of the RCIPS back in the mid 1950’s, has there ever been such a "screw up" that is going to cost the tax payers millions of dollars, concerning a "police officer" arresting someone for an offence for which there was no powers of arrest for. I can hardly believe my eyes that such a simple and straight forward matter, is going to cost me and the Caymanian tax payers millions of dollars to settle in a law suit.

    I can only imagine that if I had made this "blunder" while I was a police office or another local RCIPS officer, our A – –  would have long been burnt toast by now but since it’s a superior being, "A Limie" it is now acceptable to say,sorry it was a mistake. A mistake, yes a multi-million $$$$$$$$$$$$ mistake !!!!!!!!! Guess what ??? They are not finished with us yet, just you wait and see !!!!!!!!!!!!!

      

     

     

     

     

  10. Anonymous says:

     

    The issue of who will have to pay damages to Justice Henderson is now upon us. I do not see how disregard for the law of the Cayman Islands compounded by an unlawful arrest ever be within the scope of employment of any Special Constable? Even to this non-attorney, it is clear beyond any doubt that an unlawful arrest in the context cited is irrefutable evidence that those involved were not acting within the scope of their employment, but rather were on what I understand the legal literature calls a “frolic of their own”. On that basis, I fully understand why Sir Peter Cresswell would question why the people of the Cayman Islands should be responsible for the damages suffered by Justice Henderson.

     It will be a disgrace if this point is not pressed by the Attorney General’s office to the maximal degree permitted by law so as to ensure that Justice Henderson is compensated from pockets not belonging directly or indirectly to any Caymanian. Let those SPIT officers involved pay or let the FCO or the Met pay for them.  Only that will stop this type of  insanity.