UK attorney Martin Polaine has sent a letter to Justice Alex Henderson apologising unreservedly for the role he played in Operation Tempura, which led to the judge’s arrest and search of his home and office in September 2008.
After judicial review, Sir Peter Cresswell determined that the search warrants were not valid. The Crown agreed the arrest was unlawful. Attorneys for Justice Henderson settled for $1.275 million in damages.
A press release issued yesterday from the office of Chief Justice Anthony Smellie explained that Justice Henderson complained to the UK Bar Standards Board about the advice and conduct of Mr. Polaine over the course of Operation Tempura.
Tempura, which was an investigation into possible corruption in the judiciary and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Services, was conducted by an undercover team of officers from UK Metropolitan Police on island since September 2007.
In response to the complaints, Mr. Polaine conceded that he did advise police investigators there were reasonable grounds for the judge’s arrest on a charge of misconduct in public office, when there was insufficient evidence to justify reasonable suspicion.
He conceded he failed in his professional duty to disclose all available information to Justice of the Peace Carson Ebanks when the application was made for search warrants. Mr. Polaine apologised to Mr. Ebanks and agreed he should have advised officers to make the application to a judge.
Mr. Polaine accepted that he had not been called to the Cayman Bar and should have confined his advice to English law. He conceded he should not have commented publicly on Sir Peter’s ruling.
His letter to Justice Henderson reads: ‘I write to apologise for the upheaval and distress that I realise must have been caused to you, your family and friends as a result of the legal advice that I gave to Operation Tempura.
‘In the time since Sir Peter Cresswell’s ruling of 29 October 2008, I have had the opportunity to reflect at length on my advice and its consequences. In the light of Sir Peter’s detailed findings of fact, I accept unreservedly that I made fundamental and far-reaching errors, and, in doing so, that I failed the investigators, the Government and people of the Cayman Islands and, above all, you and those near to you. I sought to carry out my responsibilities to the best of my abilities, but succeeded only in demonstrating poor judgment and flawed thinking.
‘I deeply regret my failures in the above regard and, again, wish to express my unreserved apologies.’
Chief Justice Smellie said the apology ‘confirms that this foray by Operation Tempura into the judiciary was ill-advised and misconceived from start to finish…’
He added that the ‘unfortunate chain of events’ included criticism by Tempura’s Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger. Mr. Bridger had accused the Chief Justice of improperly releasing his ruling on a request for a search warrant in a related case. In fact, the law provides for publishing of judgments in chambers matters unless one of the parties objects.