Henderson shares experience with Canadian media

| 05/03/2009

(CNS): Grand Court Judge Alex Henderson, who recently received almost CI$1.3 million following an unlawful arrest by the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT), has shared his experiences in an interview with a Canadian newspaper. The judge said that he now had a new perspective on the justice system. "It’s a different experience, being a suspect," Henderson said in the interview."You get a fresh appreciation for the rights of criminal suspects…. Perhaps more judges should try it."

Henderson told the Globe and Mail that despite recent events, he intends to remain on the job until 2011 and may even go for another contract. Henderson related the story of his arrest and said the SPIT had initially contacted him in March 2008. They told him they were looking for confirmation of statements made by former Cayman Net News sports reporter John Evans.

Henderson said after consulting with the chief justice and others on whether it would be appropriate for him to be interviewed, he told police he would respond only to written questions. Police insisted on a face-to-face interview, creating a standoff that lasted six months before his arrest at 7:00 am on 24 September when the SPIT came to his home and, as it turned out, unlawfully arrested him for misconduct in public office and took him to the station for questioning.

Judge Henderson told the paper that he took a leave of absence from the court after his arrest to work with his lawyers, and he said, "I did not want to be bumping into the judge trying my case in the hallways."

He also revealed that his demand for compensation had met little resistance and he had more difficulty convincing his seven-year-old daughter, Tanya, who repeatedly asked him what he did wrong. "Kids at school were telling her I did something wrong," Henderson said.

Having returned to the bench, the judge told the Globe and Mail that the whole thing was unusual. "I have never heard of a judge being arrested. I guess it is unusual to just go back on the bench and continue on. But that is exactly what I was entitled to do, because I did not do anything wrong," he added.

According to the reporter, Robert Matas, he made contact with Anne Parsons, whom he described as manager of the government’s public affairs office, but Matas wrote that neither Governor Stuart Jack nor anyone else from the government or the police were available for an interview.

See full article at The Globe and Mail

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Actually it was just what appears to be a failed attempt to make light of the situation but thanks CNS. Plenty of dailies I am sure do pay for certain stories and information, not suggessting of course that the Globe and Mail is in fact a tabloid.  

    CNS: Sorry for not getting the joke!

    • John Evans says:

      It doesn’t seem to me anything to be made fun of but maybe that’s the problem – like road safety, no one takes it seriously until they’re the one who gets smashed up.

      Laugh while you can mate, because you might just be next!

      • Anonymous says:

        Mr Evans;

        Forget all the nonsense you keep railing against-Seales, the fact you were not really a friend of Alec Henderson (oops-he says you were but no matter, memories are tricky), fear about coming back to Cayman (not one solitary soul I have spoken to-even Desmond haters-can understand this unless….) etc etc. Just come back and clear the air you helped muddy. What do you (or anyone else) have to lose?

  2. Anonymous says:

    John, I know you like to think this whole thing is all about you, but I think the person asking if the paper paid someone was referring to Judge Henderson.


  3. John Evans says:

    No money changed hands. I made my comments to Robert Matas entirely voluntarily.

    One of the observatiions in the story reads – "I cannot think anything much worse than police fabricating evidence against a well-respected judge who is known for his fairness and his complete impartiality."

    And there are several issues still unresolved,

    After the arrest, and clearly contrary to Cayman Islands’ law, a number of totally unfounded allegations were published against both Judge Henderson and myself, nothing has been done about them.

    The Cresswell ruling directly accused members of Operation Tempura of acting illegally, but nothing has been done about that and the officers concerned are still at work.

    Then we have the letters. It was evident long before 3 September that there was something fishy about the source of the letters, the contents and the decision to publish them. Concerns were clearly voiced by both Lyndon Martin and myself, yet the logical course of action – to put a reporter in contact with the writer or writers to try and find out exactly what was going on – was never taken and now the source material has allegedly been discarded. One reason for the lack of action at the time may be the fact that the letters apparently never went through the normal editorial channels.

    There have been claims that three police investigations have taken place into the letters and found no wrong-doing. I am only aware of one investigation, which was effectively cut short before it could do anything. If there were two more probes by the RCIPS why was I, as the person who had done extensive research into the matter and had publicly volunteered to assist the police if the enquiries were re-opened, not contacted?

    Despite the previous comments, the real problem is that the whole matter is still far from resolved. 


  4. Anonymous says:

    Any idea how much the Globe and Mail paid him for his story?

    CNS: I think you’re confusing a Canadian daily newspaper with People Magazine. I have no inside information but I would guess the chances Justice Henderson was paid anything are nil.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I would like to comment on this judge, his award and his apparent discrimation against local media, but the law protects him from being criticized!  Just how backward can we get when it comes to Draconian laws!

    • Anonymous says:

      Judges are not above being criticised, but one has to be careful that one does not defame (say things that are not true) or commit contempt of court, that is, publicly accuse someone of  guilt after the court has ruled otherwise. 

       Also, as good citizens, we want to support law enforcement, and not maliciously and injudiciously create disrespect for the courts.  The courts are there for everyone’s protection oneway or the other — to ensure that the innocent are not falsely punished, and that guilty persons are deservedly penalised.

       On the matter of whether the judge treated local media unfairly by making disclosures to the international media, while one obviously cannot read his mind, one can hazard a guess as to what is operating here.

       Locally, could it be that the judge is deferring to the Governor, who is ultimately responsible?  If I were the judge I might have some reticence about potentially stepping on the Governor’s toes. The judge obviously has to be extremely careful from that point of view, and also from the perspective of his judicial role.  In his profession and delicate position in the civil service chain, when it comes to PR, discretion is the better part of valour.

      Nevertheless, internationally, his nameis his imprimatur.  In a sensitive position such as that of a high court judge, if one’s name is tarnished, then one’s whole future could be in jeopardy. In these days of globalisation of news, this story has gone far and wide. That is exactly why the Court awarded the judge damages: he potentially has a lot to lose. 

      Don’t know about you guys, but if it were me, I would want at least my home turf to know that I am cleared. 

       So while I do understand local media concerns, I would tend to feel that there is some justification in responding to international media simply from the point of view that that is his home — and he is in a profession where his name is his tool of trade. One could also tend to feel that the local media has had access to all the nitty gritty of this case from the court proceedings and that they have multiple sources that they can turn to for information and clarification. I think we can give the judge a break on this.

      Few of us have gone through an experience such as this — few of us know the pain and suffering and loss that come with it.  But we can try to put ourselves in his position. Just for a moment I tried to imagine being in his position, with so much at stake, and how I would have felt being handcuffed, arrested, house and office searched, name trampled upon, future put in such grave doubt  — not a nice feeling; not a nice feeling.

      If I may be permitted one last comment: I have not seen much sign of awareness that damages paid to the judge included his not insignificant legal costs.  Given how high those costs can be, there may not be the element of largesse that seems to be in people’s minds.

      And one last point — CNS is right — reputable mainstream media do not pay for stories — and anyone who doubts the bonafides of the Globe and Mail should check the venerable Encyclopedia Britannia which says that it is the "the most prestigious and influential journal in Canada." 






  6. Anonymous says:

    I love how Henderson clearly considers his audience to be the Canadian media, despite having been in Cayman for several years and being paid out of the public purse.  He owes whatever thoughts he has to we who had to pay.  Whilst I accept his innocence I resent most strongly the public relations efforts he has made, which seem to involve angling himself for greater glory wherever he goes next.  Perhaps this has something to do with the poor regard for our judiciary that the Governor and his team are encouraging.  My god I can’t wait to see the back of them. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    Judge Henderson’s experience highlighted either inexperience on the part of the investigators (unlikely) or a more pronounced/calculated intention to achieve a specific objective irrespective of the legality/validity of path, a kick in the groin to justice far away from their home. 

    Using an unsterilsed machet to do exploritory surgery on the premise of a perceived medical necessity whilst surrounded with sterile scapels, with optimally an equipped operating room, is not only illogical and unwise but cause for, and basis for removal of such physicians from the medical rolls. Is there a wrong way to do the right thing?

    The gross disrespect unfurled against the justice system as exemplfied by a certain investigating officer in his public demeaning of the office of the Chief Justice is not only dispicable, it is not only  destabilising, it is flavoured with a hemlock of irony even as we have only the security of this inherited system that many around the world hold in high regard and envy. In the remotest  and most uncivilised jurisdictions this behavior would not be countenanced. The predicatable repercussions if this assault occured on the UK,  would be the requirement of severe decipline so as to effect detterance. Rest assured such would not go unpunished. 

    This community is a part of the UK. The UK has sustained an assault even as it may be remote… in the ankle.