Attempts to have local blogger Sandra Hill (formerly Sandra Catron) imprisoned over an online post a former Cabinet minister said was in contempt of court have been “stayed” for the time being.
An agreement reached with both parties involved in the dispute, which is expected to be signed by a Grand Court judge later this week, will “stay” former Finance Minister Marco Archer’s request to have Ms. Hill “committed” to prison for what Mr. Archer alleged was a violation of an earlier court order against continued publication of defamatory materials against him.
Ms. Hill’s attorney, Ben Tonner, QC, has maintained that she had not breached any court order against publication of the alleged defamatory material.
Mr. Archer’s attorney, Colm Flanagan, said that his client intended to proceed with a defamation lawsuit against Ms. Hill which was filed in August. He said Mr. Archer agreed to stay the committal order request, but was able to reinstate the request after a period of 14 days’ notice if the terms of the agreement were not followed.
Ms. Hill was given legal aid to fight the committal order requested by Mr. Archer, and Mr. Flanagan said the agreed resolution should allow the civil case to proceed without further expenditure of tax dollars.
“We feel this is an appropriate way to move forward without using public funds,” Mr. Flanagan said.
On Ms. Hill’s website, Cayman Marl Road, the agreement was also announced: “In an unexpected turn of events, the request has now been formally stayed with the filing of another order – essentially bringing this part of proceedings to an end. Hill will not be going to jail!”
Ms. Hill has not been given legal aid assistance to defend against the defamation lawsuit.
Mr. Archer and Ms. Hill have been at odds since August when the former minister sued Ms. Hill and won a temporary injunction against the publication of a blog post that Mr. Archer alleged had defamed him. The specifics of the matter cannot be reported due to a separate court order issued on Aug. 30 prohibiting publication.
The order, made after Mr. Archer sued Ms. Hill, stated that: “[Ms. Hill], her servants or agents, be restrained from broadcasting or continuing to publish a post first published on her website ‘Caymanmarlroad.com’ which is located at [weblink listed] entitled “Archer accused of abuse of office in stamp duty fiasco” [“the Defamatory Post”].”
The order asked that the post be removed from the website and “any forms of social media where it has been published” and that Ms. Hill be restrained from “further distribution” of the post.
It is alleged by Mr. Flanagan that the Aug. 30 court order was breached in two instances, once during a talk radio appearance and again in a later publication on Ms. Hill’s website.
Grand Court Justice Timothy Owen, who was not the justice issuing the Aug. 30 injunction, said the matter of contempt of court should be decided promptly before any further action was taken in the civil lawsuit.