Police officers told they will not face prosecution
Two policemen accused of “causing disaffection” among their colleagues have been told they will not be charged with a criminal offence.
Officers raided the homes of Sergeant Mark Monk and Pc Robert Butterfield last December, seizing electronic equipment as part of a criminal inquiry into the leaking of a legal document about the divorce of Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police.
Mr Monk received an e-mail from Bermuda Police Service’s professional standards department on Monday, July 19, stating that no action would be taken against him “concerning the criminal matter of causing disaffection”.
Pc Butterfield confirmed that he was also told no charges would be brought against him.
The application for the search warrant for Mr Monk’s home stated there were reasonable grounds for suspecting 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 to the media.
Both officers denied any wrongdoing.
Mr Monk’s wife, Tricia, claimed her devices were also seized, cutting her off from family overseas and leaving her feeling “hopeless”.
She told The Royal Gazette that officers came to the couple’s door at about 9pm on December 11 as they watched television.
“Mark got up to go the door. I’m coming behind him and I heard him say ‘why are you here?’.
“There are four police officers standing at my door in protective gear. I was standing there with my jaw open. These people were in the house until almost midnight.”
The warrant application, obtained by the Gazette, said there was material on the premises, such as e-mails and other personal correspondence, likely to be relevant evidence and of “substantial value” to the investigation of the offence.
It said the material did not consist of items subject to legal privilege and it was “not practicable to communicate with any person entitled to grant entry to the premises”.
The couple questioned whether the officer who applied for the warrant, Acting Detective Inspector Paul Ridley, was aware that Mr Monk had instructed a lawyer in relation to an internal misconduct matter, meaning legally privileged items were on the electronic equipment seized.
Mr Monk, who was promoted to sergeant in November 2019, said it was not true that he couldn’t be contacted, since he had a BPS-issued mobile phone on which he received his police e-mails.
Mrs Monk said that although she was not listed as a suspect, her work computer was taken, along with her mobile phone – her only means of staying in touch with her “vulnerable mother and vulnerable sister” in her home country of St Lucia.
She said she asked if she could send her mother a message to let her know the phone was being taken and that she would be out of contact, but was refused.
Mrs Monk added that she was ill at the time and waiting to receive an e-mail with a date for urgently needed surgery in Boston, adding to her distress at the equipment being taken.
“It has been very, very stressful,” she said. “I have zero faith in the BPS.”
Her lawyer, Victoria Greening, filed an application with the Supreme Court for a judicial review of the seizure of Mrs Monk’s belongings soon after the raid, but a hearing date has yet to be set.
Ms Greening said: “We focus on the fact that there is no reasonable grounds for taking them in the first place.”
Mrs Monk has complained to the Police Complaints Authority but has not been told if the matter will be investigated.
Mr Corbishley’s personal lawyer wrote to Mr Monk and Mr Butterfield in January warning them they would be sued unless they paid the commissioner compensation for causing “serious harm” to his reputation and “significant personal anxiety and distress” by allegedly making public a confidential court document.
Mrs Monk said the letter was delivered as she recovered from her operation.
“They came two days back-to-back. On the second day, they eventually stuck the envelope on our front door.”
She said her mental wellbeing had been badly affected and her husband was physically and mentally unwell as a result of the investigation.
“It’s just feeling so hopeless,” said Mrs Monk, speaking before her husband received the e-mail on Monday. “It seems to be going on and on and on.
“Every time I hear a vehicle outside, I’m in the window looking.
“Our door has glass and I have now got a curtain there and cameras around the house.”
Mr Monk, who has made a criminal complaint in relation to the search warrant, added: “We lose sleep almost every night.”
An interview date concerning his internal conduct matter has been set for today.
The couple want the Governor to appoint an independent investigator to look into the way they have been treated.
Government House has declined to comment on the case.
Mr Butterfield, whose complaints to the Governor about the commissioner have prompted an inquiry, said this week: “I am happy that the DPP did their job fairly and in keeping with the laws of Bermuda.
“It was my position all along that I never committed any criminal offence.”
He said a civil suit he filed in relation to the search warrant was “before the courts and hopefully it will be heard expeditiously and fairly”.
A BPS spokesman said: “The Bermuda Police Service reserve comment at this time.”
PCA chairman Jeffrey Elkinson did not respond to a request for comment.