Former medical officer of health suing his successor

GUERNSEY’S former medical officer of health, Dr Stephen Bridgman, is actioning his successor Dr Nicola Brink after being made to isolate following travel, despite being fully vaccinated.

Dr Stephen Bridgman was the Bailiwick’s medical officer of health from 2008 until his retirement in 2017. (29777431)
Dr Stephen Bridgman was the Bailiwick’s medical officer of health from 2008 until his retirement in 2017. (29777431)

Dr Bridgman received his vaccinations in New Zealand, which is outside of the Common Travel Area, and under the law anyone coming into the island from anywhere outside the CTA must self-isolate.

Dr Bridgman is also actioning the Civil Contingencies Authority chairman and much of yesterday’s brief preliminary hearing in the Royal Court saw discussion of whether or not the CCA should be removed from the application.

Advocate Penny Grange, for the defendants, said that the action was really over the decision by Dr Brink not to allow Dr Bridgman to be exempt from the isolation requirements.

No decision was made by Judge Catherine Fooks on this matter and Dr Bridgman said he would take legal advice on whether or not he wished the CCA to be removed ahead of today’s sitting.

Appearing via Teams, Dr Bridgman told the court that he had not been able to take up the offer of being vaccinated in Guernsey.

He had recently travelled to the island via London Heathrow and Gatwick airports, from a country that is classed as green by the UK government, so there was no need for him to isolate when he landed there. He could not see why he would need to isolate in Guernsey.

‘For me, the key aspect is whether my lawful detention prevented the spreading of disease,’ he said.

‘The argument is about reasonableness. The only reason I am category four is because I had to spend 10 hours in transit between Heathrow and Gatwick.’

He presented a much lower risk than someone who had spent two weeks in London, he said.

Advocate Grange said that anyone coming to the island via the UK from a category four country, even if they had received their vaccination in Guernsey, would be regarded as a category four unless they came to the island from Poole or Southampton.

Although Dr Bridgman said he was not seeking a judicial review of the law, he hoped that if the court found in his favour that the CCA would look at the regulations and consider them in terms of what the human rights laws said about people not being subject to arbitrary detention.

The hearing is set to start this morning.

Dr Bridgman was the Bailiwick’s medical officer of health from 2008 until his retirement in 2017.

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