Reddy arrest unlawful
The Supreme Court has quashed the arrest of physician Mahesh Reddy, ruling that the summary arrest by the Bermuda Police Service was unlawful.
In a hearing yesterday, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley made a further declaration that the subsequent search of Dr Reddy’s home was unlawful, ordering that any items seized be returned to him.
“It is quite obvious based on the evidence before the court that the investigating officers did not evaluate the appropriateness of exercising the power of arrest in the way it was exercised as against other, less intrusive options,” he wrote in the judgment. “This was a fatal failure to consider crucially relevant matters.”
Alternatively, he wrote the arrest was unlawful because, without any coherent explanation why the intrusive approach was adopted over obvious and apparently viable options, the decision to arrest was “unreasonable or irrational”.
The court also made a ruling in favour of the Attorney-General, finding that the statute used to arrest Dr Reddy was not unconstitutional.
The matter is expected to return to the courts, with Mr Justice Kawaley adjourning an application on damages in the case to a later date, along with a discussion of costs.
Mark Diel, representing the BPS, told the court that an application to stay the decision pending an appeal could be forthcoming.
Dr Reddy, chief medical officer at Bermuda Healthcare Services, was arrested on May 9, 2016 in connection with an investigation into allegations that he ordered unnecessary scans on patients.
However, he said the arrest and search were an attempt to intimidate him into giving evidence against former premier Ewart Brown, who owns Bermuda Healthcare Services.
In a closely watched case, counsel Lord Peter Goldsmith, QC called the sting a “pre-planned, heavy-handed raid”, bent on carrying out the search from its outset.
Dr Reddy, the court heard, had been subjected to pressure by police since an investigation into Bermuda Healthcare Services began in 2012.
Mr Diel, however, argued that officers suspected Dr Reddy had committed an offence, and had reasonable grounds to perform the arrest.
One of the reasons for the need to conduct a summary offence mentioned by Mr Diel surrounded the authenticity of Dr Reddy’s medical qualifications, which the court heard had been accepted by the Bermuda Medical Council.
The Bermuda Medical Council recently checked and reaffirmed Dr Reddy’s medical credentials, according to correspondence shared with this newspaper under public access to information by the chief medical officer.
In his judgment, the Chief Justice wrote that the summary arrest, along with the related search and seizure of property, was unlawful.
“The applicant is entitled to the protections of the fundamental rights and freedoms of our constitution, whatever his national origins or local political affiliations may be,” he wrote.
“Without even directly applying these high-level principles, it is clear that his rights under Pace, conservatively construed, were infringed by being subjected to an unlawful arrest and search on May 19, 2016.
“In my judgment, this most likely occurred because of a genuine misunderstanding as to the terms and effect of the summary power of arrest as applied to a factually exceptional investigation, which raised legal issues which have not previously been judicially considered as matter of Bermuda law.”
In a statement released after the decision was handed down, Dr Reddy said: “Today’s judgment has struck a blow against the excessive use of power by the authorities for every resident of Bermuda.”
And he added that the judgment was “the right decision in any country that values its people and their constitutionally protected liberties above a government’s abuse of its power”.
Meanwhile, a police spokesman said: “The Commissioner of Police will consult with the Attorney-General’s Chambers and take advice accordingly.”
In the time since Dr Reddy’s arrest, two more police raids were carried out on Dr Brown’s clinics in February, followed by a suit filed by the Bermuda Government in the Boston courts, accusing Lahey Health of colluding with Dr Brown to gain access to local business.
Dr Brown has vowed to fight the allegations “with our last cent and to our final breath”.
• For the judgment and Dr Reddy’s statement in full, click on the PDFs under “Related Media”.
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