Judge’s case back in court

The case involving challenges to the September arrest of a Cayman Islands Grand Court Justice is scheduled to be back in court this morning.

The matter, styled The Queen v. Martin Bridger & Others, is a directions hearing which is part of judicial review process that seeks to have Justice Alexander Henderson’s arrest by officers from a UK Metropolitan police investigating team declared unlawful.

Mr. Henderson’s attorneys have already won a judgment earlier this year which quashed warrants used by the UK Met police team to search the judge’s home and office. The same Justice who ruled on the warrants, Sir Peter Cresswell, is scheduled to hear today’s matter.

Judge Henderson was arrested on 24 September in connection with allegations that he improperly used his influence as a member of the judiciary in attempts to; among other things, violate the privacy rights of a local newspaper publisher. He was never charged with any crimes.

Following Sir Peter’s ruling concerning the search warrants, Mr. Henderson received a letter from Attorney General Sam Bulgin clearing him of any wrong-doing and stating he was no longer the subject of any investigation. Given the fact that letter has already been sent, it seems unlikely that lawyers for the UK Met team will seek to pursue the arrest any further.

Justice Henderson, who’s already back on the bench hearing cases in open court, has said he’s seeking to have the arrest thrown out to bolster his efforts to claim damages. The judge has previously said such a claim could amount to more than $1 million.

The substance of Mr. Henderson’s argument is essentially that he was arrested for what amounts to an ‘unarrestable offence,’ given that a court has ruled that officers taking the action had no proper warrants to affect it.

The application which initially sought judicial review of Mr. Henderson’s arrest named the man in charge of the UK Met team’s investigation, Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger, one of his chief lieutenants Richard Coy, and the Acting Commissioner of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

According to Cayman Islands law, officers serving search warrants cannot be held liable individually for their actions. However, since Justice Henderson filed for judicial review of the arrest, there has been much speculation about the extent to which the islands’ top cop might be exposed to liability.

Acting Commissioner James Smith, who took the post just this month, has said in no uncertain terms that he is overseeing the UK Met team’s work. The man previously nominated to the police commissioner’s post, Royce Hipgrave, declined to take the job citing a particular ‘aspect’ that was unacceptable.

It is believed that ‘aspect’ was the potential liability stemming from the Met team’s investigation, although neither Mr. Hipgrave nor Governor Stuart Jack have publicly commented on the issue since Mr. Hipgrave’s departure from Cayman.