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‘Scandalous’ allegations should be struck out, says lawyer

“Scandalous” material should be removed from a statement sworn by a policeman who is suing the Commissioner of Police and the senior magistrate, a court heard this week.

Sergeant Mark Monk and his wife Tricia have asked for a judicial review of a decision by police to raid the couple’s home in Warwick last December and seize electronic equipment.

The civil claim will be heard by the Supreme Court.

Brian Myrie, a lawyer from the Attorney General’s Chambers who represented both respondents, told a brief hearing on Zoom: “There are some matters in here which we say are scandalous and we would like them struck out.”

Chief Justice Narinder Hargun said: “If you think there are parts of the affidavit that ought to be struck out as scandalous, you should make that application. I’ll give you leave.

“You should make the application and I will entertain it.”

Mr Myrie added that the Senior Magistrate – a post occupied by Juan Wolffe – should be removed as a party to the proceedings.

But Victoria Greening, for the Monks, said Mr Wolffe was not being sued on a personal basis.

She claimed it was appropriate for him to be sued in his professional capacity because “he was wrong and acted unlawfully” when he approved the search warrant for the police raid.

Mr Justice Hargun said a proper hearing would be held on whether the Senior Magistrate should be removed.

Officers raided Mr Monk’s home and the home of Pc Robert Butterfield as part of a criminal inquiry into the leaking of a legal document about the divorce of Commissioner of Police Stephen Coribishley.

The application for the search warrant for Mr Monk’s home said there were reasonable grounds for suspicion that he and Mr Butterfield had caused or conspired to “attempt to cause disaffection among members” of the Bermuda Police Service by sharing or posting information on social media and the wider media.

The two denied any wrongdoing and they were told last month that they would not face criminal charges.

Mr Corbishley’s personal lawyer wrote to Mr Monk and Mr Butterfield in January to warn them they would be sued unless they paid compensation for causing “serious harm” to his reputation and “significant personal anxiety and distress” by allegedly making a confidential court document public.

Mr Butterfield complained to the Governor about the commissioner’s actions, which sparked an inquiry by an independent investigator.

Mr Monk, in his affidavit, made allegations about how the warrant was obtained.

He said: “I was and still am extremely distressed about the police attending my residence unannounced and without lawful reason.

“I did not sleep at all on the night of December 11, 2020.

“Since that date, I have experienced depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. I am on various medications as a direct result of this unlawful search and seizure.”

The officer, who is off work pending a police disciplinary hearing, added: “This experience has left me feeling humiliated and extremely worried that, despite my good character and exemplary professional and personal history, it will be perceived that I have done something criminal.

“I am fearful of damage to my reputation. Since this has happened, people that used to respect me and address me when they saw me, have ceased from doing so.”

He said the couple’s electronic equipment was returned on July 1 and was now with a “computer expert for analysis to examine for damage and tampering”.

Mrs Monk at first applied for the judicial review on her own.

Ms Greening asked yesterday for Mr Monk to be added as a plaintiff and the Chief Justice agreed.

The couple have asked for unspecified damages.

They want the court to declare that the seizure of the equipment was unlawful and that the warrant was unlawfully obtained.

A hearing date for the judicial review has yet to be set.

Chief Justice Narinder Hargun (File photograph)