Justice Henderson to fight arrest
Despite his arrest last week by the UK Metropolitan Police, Justice Alexander Henderson said he will return to Grand Court.
‘If they decide not to charge me, I’m going back to the bench,’ he said in an interview with the Caymanian Compass Sunday. ‘If they charge me, I’ll be acquitted and I’m going back to the bench. I was brought up with the view that you don’t quit.’
Mr. Henderson’s arrest last Wednesday sent shockwaves through the judiciary, the legal profession and the community in general. The previous week, Governor Stuart Jack suspended Grand Court Justice Priya Levers pending the outcome of a Judicial Tribunal.
‘[The arrest] took me totally by surprise,’ Mr. Henderson said.
However, in a written statement issued by Mr. Henderson last week, he acknowledged the police asked him to give a statement about a situation concerning letters to the editor of Cayman Net News critical of Cayman’s judiciary and an alleged entry of the office of the newspaper’s publisher, Desmond Seales.
Mr. Henderson said he provided a statement in writing but declined to submit to an oral cross-examination. He said the chief justice, the solicitor general and special prosecutor all agreed with his approach.
‘I was arrested simply so they could interview me,’ he said.
After his arrest Wednesday morning, Justice Henderson was interviewed for some eight hours over two days. The police also searched his home and confiscated his computer.
Although has not yet been charged with a crime, Mr. Henderson was arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office. According to the police, he allegedly, among other things, improperly used his influence as a member of the judiciary; requested former Cayman Net News employee John Evans to ascertain information that would amount to a breach of trust or contract as an employee of that company; he failed to have any proper regard to the risk of Mr. Evans being accused of the criminal offence of burglary; he failed to have any proper regard to the position, rights and interests of Desmond Seales; and that in seeking to conduct and investigation, he thereby exposed the judiciary of the Cayman Islands to the allegation of partiality and lack of propriety.
Now that he’s been arrested, Mr. Henderson said he will be taking legal action to set aside the search warrant. He is represented by the local law firm Campbells, but has also retained QC Geoffrey Cox.
Mr. Henderson said he is contemplating other legal actions, but at the current time he cannot do much more.
‘I don’t think as a suspect, which I am, that I have many options right now.’
If he is never charged, however, Mr. Henderson said he could pursue action for false arrest.
Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin complained bitterly Friday about the Cabinet not knowing much about the circumstances surrounding Mr. Henderson’s arrest.
‘They’re being treated like children,’ Mr. Henderson said of the Cabinet’s lack of information. ‘I think the only ones who really know what is going on are the police. I’m not even sure the governor knows everything.’
Mr. Henderson said he is going to demand some more information from the governor this week.
‘Hopefully, we’ll learn a little more in the days to come.’
Although there has been wild speculation in the community about the motives for the arrest of Justice Henderson – and even Minister McLaughlin said he was sceptical about the timing of the arrest coming so close to this week’s constitution talks with the UK – Mr. Henderson doesn’t believe the two things are connected.
‘I’m not a conspiracy theorist,’ he said. ‘I just put it down to incompetence.’
The news of Mr. Henderson’s arrest spanned the globe by Internet and created a stir in British Columbia, Canada, where he served as a Supreme Court judge before becoming a Grand Court judge in Cayman Islands in 2003. Justice Henderson said he was glad to hear many former colleagues in Canada were supporting him.
‘I don’t want to seem immodest, but I was known as one of the best attorneys in Canada,’ he said.
Mr. Henderson also thinks he has the support of the local judiciary and legal profession.
‘I don’t think anyone here thinks I’m capable of corruption’ he said.