editor and publisher of the Caymanian Compass have stood behind reporter Brent
Fuller, who was targeted by Speaker of the House Mary Lawrence and legislators
in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday.
Speaker and legislators were angered by a front-page story in Wednesday’s
Caymanian Compass written by Mr. Fuller and an editorial that appeared in the
newspaper the same day.
Mrs. Lawrence suspended Mr. Fuller for the rest of the week, North Side MLA
Ezzard Miller brought a motion not only calling for the permanent revocation of
Mr. Fuller’s right to attend Legislative Assembly, but recommending he and the
newspaper be prosecuted. That motion passed, nine votes to four.
Lawrence called for Mr. Fuller to apologise for the article and the editorial.
Editor Tammie Chisholm said that would not happen.
have nothing to apologise for,” said Mrs. Chisholm. “Brent was just doing his
job and the editorial was expressing this newspaper’s opinion.”
Miller’s motion claimed the article and editorial breached to the Legislative
Assembly (Immunities, Powers and Privileges) Law. Sections of that law make it
a crime to “falsely or scandalously” defame the Legislative Assembly or any of
it committees; to publish any writing containing “a gross, wilful or scandalous
misrepresentation” of the proceedings of Assembly or one of its committees; to
publish any writing containing “false or scandalous libel”; or to publish a
report or statement :purporting to be a report of the proceedings of the assembly
in any case where such proceedings have been conducted after exclusion of the
public by order of the Assembly”.
Chisholm said neither the article written by Mr. Fuller nor the editorial ran
afoul of the law.
the legislators do not like that we used the word ‘secret’,” she said. “Whether
we used the word ‘secret’ or the phrases ‘in camera’ or ‘behind closed doors’
it all means the same thing. We stand by what was written.”
Free Press publisher Brian Uzzell also said he was standing behind Mr. Fuller
and the Compass editorial team.
is a dark day for the Cayman Islands when legislators decide to prosecute responsible
media because they disagree with their opinion,” he said. “What transpired in
the Legislative Assembly on Thursday should embarrass and frighten the people
of this country.”
Uzzell said he was going to consider the newspaper’s response to Mrs. Lawrence
and the motion over the weekend. For details of that response, see Monday’s
edition of the Caymanian Compass.