AG: No prosecution of Compass, journalist

There will be no prosecution of the Caymanian Compass or its journalist Brent Fuller arising out of an article and editorial that appeared in the newspaper on 8 December.

Caymanian Compass Editor Tammie C. Chisholm said she expected the decision that was reached.

“We were always confident that wisdom and right-thinking would prevail,” she said.

That article, which concerned a Legislative Assembly subcommittee that is reviewing the Freedom of Information Law in meetings not held in the public, along with a newspaper editorial, caused Speaker of the House Mary Lawrence to suspend Mr. Fuller from the attending the Legislative Assembly for two days and call for his apology.

North Side legislator Ezzard Miller then brought a Private Member’s Motion that not only asked for the immediate cancellation of Mr. Fuller’s Legislative Assembly press privileges, but also to recommend his criminal prosecution for contravening sections 18 and 19 of the Legislative Assembly (Immunities, Powers and Privileges) Law.

Attorney General Sam Bulgin issued a statement Monday morning saying he had taken some time to consider his decision on the matter “given it’s seriousness and obvious 
public interest”.

“Following a very careful consideration of all circumstances, including the article, editorial, the statement of the honourable speaker, debate in the Legislative Assembly, and the law including relevant case law, I am of the opinion that there should be no prosecutions in this matter,” he stated.

“In the circumstances, the decision is that there will be no criminal proceedings instituted against Mr. Brent Fuller and/or the Caymanian Compass,”

As a result of the actions of Mrs. Lawrence and the legislators – who passed the motion nine votes to four – Caymanian Compass publisher Brian Uzzell stated the newspaper would no longer send reporters to attend Legislative Assembly, something the newspaper has done unfailingly for more than four decades. However, last Friday the newspaper clarified its position in an editorial, stating it would still cover the Legislative Assembly proceedings, but by listening to the radio replays.

Premier McKeeva Bush said he had also been advised Monday morning there would be no prosecution of the Compass or Mr. Fuller. “I certainly appreciate the AG’s decision,” said Mr. Bush, who was one of four Legislative Assembly members to vote against the prosecution. However, Mr. Bush said he believes reporters in Cayman should be more careful in the way they report.

“They need to understand the nuances of the Island,” he said. “It’s not the same as big countries.”

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Sanity prevails. Maybe those involved in passing the motion will now be big enough to apologise.

    And Premier Bush is quite right, Cayman is not the same as big countries – if the UK government behaved like some sectors of CIG seem to the media over here would be on them like a pack of starving wolves. He should be thankful for media representatives who do understand the nuances of the island and repect the division between politicians public duties and their private lives.

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  2. John

    Not only that.

    He needs to be thankful that, for the time being, the constitutional Bill of Rights is delayed until 2012 in the Cayman Islands.

    Can you imagine the lawsuit any of the major newspapers in Britain would bring against whichever politician who would be so foolish as to threaten them with imprisonment for writing an article with which they were not happy ?

    Even our exhalted Premeiere Ole Bushy had the sense not to vote for such an utterly stupid motion…

    What bother me more are the individuals who follow blindly and agree with every action of their political benefactors like some on this forum, only to end up with egg on their faces.

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  3. For me the person with the biggest question to answer in this affair is the Speaker Mary Lawrence. According to the Compass original report:

    She said reporting on the Legislative Assembly is a privilege, not a right… It is a privilege that is awarded by my office and which can be revoked by my office.

    I do not see how that statement can be compatible with holding the office of Speaker. It displays a profound misunderstanding of the nature of parliamentary democracy, and speaks of a mindset more suited to Stalinist Russia than the Cayman Islands in the 21st century.

    Speaker Lawrence should retract those words or resign.

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