A British lawyer who was kicked out of the profession for his role in Cayman’s Operation Tempura corruption probe has been reinstated after a four-year fight to get his career and his life back on track.
Martin Polaine claimed his life was ruined after he was disbarred for his role in the controversial internal police investigation.
He was stripped of his right to practice as a lawyer in the U.K. due to a string of alleged offenses, including giving advice on matters relating to Cayman Islands Law without being called to the Bar in the territory.
His counsel to investigators led in part to the wrongful arrest of Justice Alexander Henderson – a move that led to government being forced to pay more than $1.2 million in damages to the Grand Court judge.
The U.K. Bar Standards Board has now quashed its original decision and replaced it with a two-month suspension.
Mr. Polaine said the board accepted that there was no requirement for him to be called to the Cayman Bar.
“The disciplinary findings against me were quashed and a re-hearing ordered. Although I was not able to put a full account forwards because I was constrained by legal professional privilege, I was, at least, in a position to give an account of some of what occurred,” he added. After the re-hearing, he said, only one of the original charges against him was retained.
The new ruling, posted on the British Bar Association website, finds the lawyer guilty of “professional misconduct” for failing to properly advise investigators of their “disclosure obligations” in an application to a Justice of the Peace for search warrants of Justice Henderson’s home and judicial chambers. A two-month suspension is imposed for that offense.
Mr. Polaine emphasized, however, that the board did not pursue a secondary charge that he had acted improperly by failing to advise officers to tell the justice of the peace that previous applications for search warrants in connection with this aspect of the investigation had been denied by the chief justice.
None of the original charges relating to the lawyer’s right to practice in the Cayman Islands is retained in the new ruling.
Those charges included giving incorrect advice to Cayman Islands authorities over Justice Henderson’s arrest, while not being qualified to act as a lawyer in the jurisdiction.
The full findings of the five man panel, which issued its new ruling after hearing evidence from Mr. Polaine in October last year, and the reasons for their decision have not yet been published.
Mr. Polaine added: “I was able to satisfy the standards board that there was no requirement for me to be called to the Bar in the Cayman Islands, which was the main thrust of the charges against me.”
He has always maintained that he was authorized by Attorney General Sam Bulgin to work on the investigation and therefore did not need to be called to the Bar in the territory.
The original hearing in 2009 followed a complaint from Justice Henderson about Mr. Polaine’s conduct, which came on the heels of the judicial review that found the search warrants for the September 2008 raid on Justice Henderson’s home and office were invalid and his arrest was unlawful.
That ruling, and Justice Peter Cresswell’s finding that Mr. Polaine was not qualified to practice in the Cayman Islands, were the basis of the original, uncontested, decision of the Bar Association to take action against Mr. Polaine.
The new hearing was the lawyer’s first chance to offer his version of events.
The extent to which the panel for the re-hearing took a different view of the facts is not clear because their full judgment has not been published.