Blogger undeterred by ex-minister’s jail threat

| 28/09/2017
Cayman News Service

Sandra Hill (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

(CNS): Sandra Hill (nee Catron), a well known local activist who recently created a blog called Cayman Marl Road, has said that she will “fight to the bitter end” in her battle with the former financial services minister in the courts, regardless of the jail threat hanging over her head. Marco Archer recently asked the courts to take drastic action and put Hill behind bars, accusing her of continuing to repeat defamatory allegations after he had successfully secured an injunction in relation to a blog post on her site in which what he says are false accusations were made against him.

Hill told CNS that Archer was pursuing what lawyers have called “a nuclear option” by asking the courts to jail her, and she said it makes her believe that the former minister is not just wanting to keep a lid on the issues she raised in the blog but that the legal battle is now becoming personal.

She said this is further illustrated by Archer’s reaction when she spoke to his lawyers about a possible settlement, following their first court appearance, based on advice from the judge. Hill claimed that Archer’s list of demands were ridiculous. Not only did it include $175,000 in damages, he also wanted a written commitment that she would never write anything about him ever again, she said.

Cayman News Service

Marco Archer

Hill said that his unreasonable response to her approach and what she now believes are his misplaced allegations that she is repeating her original accusations, as well as wanting her jailed, show this is no ordinary challenge to free speech but it remains an important one to fight.

She claims that Archer’s negative personal feelings towards her were probably fuelled by her very public criticisms of his outburst during a talk show appearance, when he slated a local radio station, its hosts and producers for allowing his opposing candidate in the election, Kenneth Bryan, to call in while he was on air.

She said that this fight is not just about free speech but the right to criticise and question those in power and that the former minister’s actions reflect a desire to specifically shut her down and to stop any criticism of him when he was in office. 

Archer had secured an injunction to restrain Hill from further publishing what he said were the defamatory and malicious falsehoods about decisions he made while minister, ahead of a potential defamation hearing. CNS is unable to detail the content of the blog post because of the court order.

Following Archer’s successful injunction, Hill appeared on a radio station and spoke around the article on a live phone-in show, but she also published another blog post about the chain of events that led to the article and also posted related documents. Archer claimed this amounted to a breach of the injunction and sought another court hearing, where this time he called for Hill to be locked up.

Hill denies breaching the injunction. As a result of the drastic move on Archer’s part requesting a committal hearing, Hill was granted legal aid as she is facing a possible indeterminate jail term. She instructed Ben Tonner QC to represent her at a hearing last Friday but the case was adjourned before arguments were fully aired and a date has yet to be fixed for the case to go back before a judge.

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