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Commissioner doubles down on refusal to disclose damning report

Commissioner of Police Darrin Simons (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Commissioner of Police Darrin Simons has refused for a second time to disclose a damning internal report into how warrants were obtained to search the homes of two policemen.

Chief Inspector Arthur Glasford, the head of the Bermuda Police Service’s professional standards department, submitted the report to the commissioner on March 1, 2023, after investigating the accuracy of information used to obtain the residential search warrants.

The police have since admitted the obtaining of the warrant to raid the home of one of the officers, Sergeant Mark Monk, was unlawful and have agreed to pay him and his wife a $200,000 out-of-court settlement, plus their legal fees.

The other officer, Pc Robert Butterfield, is still pursuing a civil lawsuit against the police commissioner.

Pc Butterfield requested Mr Glasford’s report through public access to information the same day it was submitted to the police commissioner.

The next day, March 2, 2023, Mr Simons forwarded the report to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

The Pati request was later refused on the grounds that the record fell outside the scope of the Pati Act, under section 4, because it was created or obtained by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

Independent Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez reviewed the refusal to disclose and found it was unjustified, with the BPS failing to provide evidence to show the report was created or obtained by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

She ordered a new decision to be issued by June 11 and Mr Simons complied.

In his latest decision, the Commissioner of Police again refused to release the report, relying on the same grounds for withholding it but providing evidence in support this time.

He said the BPS held a meeting on September 28, 2022, with Crown counsel Brian Myrie, of the Attorney-General’s Chambers, to discuss the warrants, after which Mr Glasford was asked to prepare his report.

The police commissioner shared the meeting invitation, as well as the e-mail he sent to the Attorney-General’s Chambers on March 2, 2023, to accompany the report.

Mr Simons wrote to Pc Butterfield: “The evidence provided demonstrates that the record was prepared specifically for submission to the AG Chambers, in relation to civil litigation.”

He added: “Notwithstanding the fact that the record was received by the AG Chambers less than 24 hours after the [Pati] request, the BPS maintain that the exemptions under section 4 … are applicable.”

The Commissioner of Police said the Attorney-General’s Chambers had already provided the report as part of civil litigation to “another claimant” — understood to mean Sergeant Monk — and Pc Butterfield should be able to obtain it in the same way.

As such, he said he was also relying on a section of the Pati Act which allows records to be withheld if they are “reasonably available under any other statutory provision” as justification for not disclosing the report.

Pc Butterfield, who gave permission to be identified in this article as the Pati requester, told The Royal Gazette he had appealed the new decision to the ICO.

A BPS spokesman said: “This matter remains ongoing. As such it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.”

Pc Butterfield said he had rejected a settlement offer from the BPS in relation to his lawsuit, adding: “They did advise that the settlement offer to me was lower because I was the sole person listed on my judicial review, while the Monks got more because they both were listed on their JR.

“So an application has been made to the court to add my wife and older daughter to the JR. That has yet to be heard and should be in September.”

He and Sergeant Monk had their homes raided in December 2020 as part of a criminal inquiry into a leaked affidavit concerning the divorce of Stephen Corbishley, who was then the Commissioner of Police.

The pair, who had been suspended, were later told they would not face criminal charges and could return to work.

Last week, charges against Sergeant Monk of harassing Mr Corbishley were dropped.

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