Tempura lawyer reinstated

| 15/01/2014

(CNS): A UK lawyer who was part of the ill-fated Operation Tempura investigation has been re-instated following his disbarment back in 2009. The Bar Standards Board had struck Martin Polaine from the profession as a result of his part in the unlawful arrest of Justice Alex Henderson and because he was not entitled to practice in Cayman as he had not been called to the local bar. But the UK board has now overturned its original ruling, having found several allegations against Polaine to be unfounded, not least that he did not need to be called to the bar. Polaine was employed by government, negating the need to be called, a point the Attorney General's Chambers never raised at the time, even though that information could have saved the lawyer from being booted out of the profession.

It has taken Polaine almost four years to clear his name and return to practice. The Bar Standards Board enquiry was triggered by a complaint made by Jusitce Alex Henderson and the original decision was based almost entirely on the ruling by Sir Peter Cresswell, who heard the judicial review of Henderson’s arrest and ruled that it was unlawful.

Although Polaine was not the only legal adviser to the Tempura team and he came into the investigation at a later stage, he had offered the legal advice in the Henderson arrest, which resulted in a damages payout to the judge for over $1.2 million.

The list of offences that the UK Bar Standards Board had found Polaine culpable for, which led to his subsequent disbarment in 2009, were based largely on Justice Cresswell’s findings, which at the time of the hearing were considered findings in fact. It was not until Polaine was able to file an appeal that he could argue against the position taken by the judge with documentary evidence.

The UK board has now found that Polaine did not commit as many professional errors as had originally been claimed and they dramatically reduced the original punishment from a complete banishment from the profession to a mere two month suspension.

Of the many findings of the board in the case, which will become a full public document and be published on the website this month, the allegation that Polaine was not entitled to practice here was found to be inaccurate.

Polaine had been employed by the Cayman Islands Government. His appointment was recommended by Peter Gough, who at the time was part of the oversight committee established to manage the controversial internal police probe, and was then confirmed by Attorney General Samuel Bulgin.

Polaine, like all other lawyers that work for government in both the AG’s chambers and subsequently those working for the director of public prosecutions, did not need to be called to the bar. At no time did the Attorney General’s Chambers advise that he would need to be or raise any concerns about Polaine’s right to work.

Yet in Sir Peter’s ruling he stated that Polaine should have been called and the finding was never questioned by the AG’s chambers. CNS understands that the judge’s ruling could only have been appealed by the commissioner of police at the time but the AG’s chambers had advised that Cresswell’s decision should not be challenged. David George, who was the temporary commissioner during this period of the bungled probe, departed the jurisdiction almost immediately after the Henderson case.

But had the lawyers that represented the CoP, the government and the Special Police Investigation Team (dubbed SPIT) at the time indicated that Polaine was not required by law in Cayman to be called, they may have prevented the lawyer’s disbarment. Cresswell had taken the Tempura team to task over the issue of Polaine’s right to practice as the judge had been led to believe that this was indeed in question, but government’s legal team could easily have demonstrated that this was not the case.

Polaine confirmed to CNS this week that the disciplinary findings against him were quashed and a re-hearing ordered.

“Although I was not able to put a full account forward because I was constrained by legal professional privilege, I was, at least, in a position to give an account of some of what had occurred,” he explained.

At the re-hearing the only charge, in part, that was found against the disbarred lawyer was in relation to aspects of the information provided to the justice of the peace by the police officer making the search warrant application. Polaine said he accepted that, as the legal adviser to the investigation team at the time, he still bears responsibility for that.

CNS has contacted the governor’s office and the attorney general regarding the latest twist in the Tempura case, but government officials have refused to answer the questions until they have seen the ruling.

“We have not had sight of the ruling that you refer to. As a result it would not be appropriate to offer any comment,” a statement from the governor’s office said.

The full ruling is due to be posted on the UK Bar Standards Board before the month’s end. It is very likely to place more information in the public domain that could prove awkward for both the UK Foreign Office officials, as well as some of the local authorities as they continue the fight to keep a lid on the twists and turns of the still controversial and as yet unexplained details of the costly investigation.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Someone please remind me again what exactly the Attorney General's office does?  Or mandated to do?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Okay, FCO/PPM Government, I have a question, isn't thisenough to have the AG's appointment as the government's attorney terminated?

    Otherwise when/how can we start having the AG (and his office) start paying some of these lawsuits?

    questions on my mind today..

  3. SKEPTICAL says:

    Remind me again – what standards of proficiency are demanded of the Attorney General's Chambers……………

  4. Anonymous says:

    This decision was actually made last October and it still might not be the end of this.

    Just over a year ago Martin Polaine's co-director in Amicus, Arvinder Sambei, told the Compass that they both worked on Tempura while in 'non-practising' status. I understand that to work without a current practising certificate there are a number of Bar Council requirements (including provision of liability insurance, lack of which was one of the charges) that must be satisfied. 

    Ms Sambei's statement also seemed to indicate that Martin Bridger was the person ultimately responsible for ensuring that the appropriate authorities (including the AG) were notified of this fact.

    It will be interesting to see the full ruling but whatever the contents it still remains that Mr Polaine cost the people of the Cayman Islands around $2million by giving legal advice without doing his homework properly.



  5. Anonymous says:

    if i am reading this correctly, the Cayman Islands Government perhaps facilitated this lawyer (who they hired) to be disbarred largely as a result of the CIG not providing the facts (that he did not need to be called to the Bar in Cayman if he was working for CIG)  to the judge that ruled on the case. If this is correct, i can smell another law suit.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Right … now that is sorted out and people have stopped blowing air up Tempura's a..

    Lets get them back and finish the job properly once and for all.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you out of your mind?! This changes nothing as far as the deplorable conduct of that investigation is concerned. Not a single successful prosecution. Having a jolly at Cayman's expense. Even Bridger has said that it would not have proceeded had he known that the Governor had authorised Kernohan to act as he did.

      • John Evans says:

        Bridger 'said' he would not have proceeded but I was there and the impression he gave in January 2008 was that he was in it for a long haul. In fact the Met have since gone on record to me and confirmed that his extended employment as a contractor was decided in February 2008, that's nearly three months before his official retirement date, without any CIG involvement. That  information was rather conveniently not revealed to the Auditor General in 2009.

        The problem with Tempura and Cealt is that the whole thing is based on a foundation of lies and misinformation.

        My 3 Sept 2007 search was conducted with the full knowledge of Bridger's bosses at the Met, Sir Ian Blair and John Yates, and I have the email that confirms this.

        Bridger's high profile complaint against Stuart Jack has disappeared without trace.

        His attempt to claim that his removal of confidential documents from the Cayman Islands was justified has failed.

        In fact the sum total of Tempura from a positive perspective is zero but the negative fall out is almost inestimable.  


    • Anonymous says:

      Only someone as dumb as pit bull would say something like that.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Professional incompetence would probably be the term to best describe this fiasco.

  8. Anonymous says:

    There is so much one could say about all this – and some of us have been wanting to say it for some time – but nowadays one has to beso careful because one could be dragged before the Court for "scandalising the courts". Let us just watch how all of this plays out. It's not over yet.

    • Anonymous says:

      "Scandalising the courts" has recently, and rightly, been abolished in the UK as a restraint on free speech. Interesting then that the Law Reform Commission, in its recent report on contempt of court, sees no reason to do likewise here. Now I wonder who "got at" them to say that?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Fantastic news.  The Tempura investigation helped bring into the daylight much that would have stayed secret. Those involved did a great deal of good.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ummm…what good did they do? The bilked the Cayman Islands out of millions of dollars and we have nothing to show for it.

    • Anonymous says:

      I hope that comment is sarcastic. Tempura/Cealt cost us possibly $25million and produced absolutely nothing. Polaine on his own added more than $2million to the bill.

      • Anonymous says:

        $25 million? Really? The capacity of some posters to this site to exaggerate is ridiculous

      • Anonymous says:

        It exposed corruption and provided a great deal of intelligence.  At 25 million it was a bargain.

        • Anonymous says:

          I am sure it was. For Bridger and crew. Certainly no bargain for Cayman. YOu can make extravagant claims but there is nothing you can point to to back it up.   

        • Anonymous says:

          What corruption did it expose? We have yet to hear any such corruption proved in court.

      • Anonymous says:

        You say produced nothing, you are wrong just because it did not finish the way you may wish dose not mean that the resuts intended were not achieved.

        When I worked doing investigations seldom was there an end result but those that i looked into sure were put on notice to check themselves