Bridger spent CI$500,000 on lawyers to fight Henderson

| 18/03/2009




(CNS): According to documentation released to CNS under the Freedom of Information Law by the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, the Senior Investigating Officer of the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT) Martin Bridger chalked up some CI$534,405.29 on lawyers and legal advisers fighting the Justice Alex Henderson Judicial Review which found that the search of Henderson’s office and home was illegal and ultimately his arrest unlawful.


The more than half million dollars which was spent on the five day hearing which saw the presiding judgerefer to the whole matter as, the “gravest abuse of process” also included invoices from Amicus Legal Consultants, Martin Polaine’s firm, totalling some CI$23,000. Polaine reportedly assisted Bridger in other parts of Operation Tempura and therefore the invoice covered work outside of the Henderson hearing. Although one of the lowest invoices Polaine has since been revealed to be the person who advised Bridger that the arrest was lawfully despite Cayman Islands law stating otherwise.

The rest of the 500,000 plus sum was spent specifically on lawyers and legal support that took part in the five day review and undertook worked purely defending Bridger and his team against the claims made by Henderson which were ultimately upheld.

Bridger a former Metropolitan police officer but now employed directly by the Governor, Stuart Jack, engaged the services of leading solicitors and counsel in London as well as here in the Cayman Islands all of which were paid for from the public purse. The Judicial Review itself which awarded Henderson his costs and damages totalling CI$1,275,000 actually cost the Cayman tax payer CI$1,809,405.29 because of the money spent by Bridger on more than three different law firms.

Locally, Bridger engaged the services of Nelson & Co. Attorneys-at-Law whose invoices totalled almost CI$132,000, but he also engaged leading London based lawyers Peters and Peters who instructed Nicholas Purnell QC and whose combined invoicing reached in excess of CI$291,000.

Local attorneys Ogeir were also paid over $87,000 to defend the interests of Carson Ebanks the Justice of the Peace who signed the warrant for the unlawful searches.

The costs do not cover the time or other costs incurred by the Attorney General’s office for its role in closing the case and negotiating the settlement with Henderson’s team.

Although SIO Bridger is leaving the Cayman Islands at the end of April, Acting Police Commissioner, James Smith recently requested a further CI$917,000 to continue with the Operation Tempura investigation and the cases relating to it which are before the courts including the trial of Lyndon Martin and Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon, and for the new phase of the investigation – Operation Cealt. Cabinet agreed for that request to go before Finance Committee where Smith will have to justify further funding.

Meanwhile, The Auditor General’s office is currently conducting a review of the entire SPIT spending and assessing if the public purse has received value for money since the team arrived in Cayman, reportedly in September 2007. Dan Duguay told CNS that he hopes to produce a first draft of the report before the end of this month, however with the dissolution of parliament on 24 March he said the contents will not be made public until after the election and the swearing in of the new incumbents when he will then be able to present his findings to the Legislative Assembly.

  

 

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