Trial by media

A sad reflection upon the human psyche is that many people prefer to believe the worst. They prefer to see a cup half empty, shadows in every direction and gloat and gossip about other’s misfortune. Success causes jealousy. Personalities are introduced into the mix and it is seen as being ‘in touch’, or ‘politically correct’, to condemn.  

Many like to feed their own egos by announcing that ‘they know….’ or ‘they have heard that….’. 

It is understood that investigations on three matters have apparently been commenced against the Premier of The Cayman Islands. Certain allegations have been made and are believed to be under investigation. Informed, meaningful and thorough investigation should be allowed to take place without influence, threat or pre-judgment. The allegations have yet to be substantiated with at most only part of one side of the coin and thus limited facts known to the public.  

One consideration is that it is not necessary for an accused person to have to respond until a charge has been properly formulated. At that point a considered response can be made by way of an educated defence based on facts, not innuendo, interference or rumour. 

If the Premier is ultimately properly found to be at fault then that is the time for recrimination and comment. Not now. Until that time any blanket condemnation based on the unknown is unwise and undoubtedly detrimental. 

A good example of how allegations can backfire is in early 2006. Writs were issued by Cayman General Insurance Co. Ltd. against three local businessmen and their respective companies.  

The writs alleged fraud and conspiracy to defraud the insurance company.  

Such allegations were extremely serious. 

Details of the allegations found their way into the press within days of the writ and indeed the trial Judge found that they had been planted by an employee of the insurance company. The article outlining the allegations was conveniently published to exacerbate the embarrassment and cause maximum damage to the parties involved. Even though the allegations were eventually dropped the outcome was that the various businesses were destroyed and the accused parties pilloried and shunned by many in the local community. The allegations were broadcast internationally and to this day, even with the names having been cleared by the Courts, suspicions remain in the minds of many.  

What transpired was that the accusers discovered they had no case even after maintaining the action for nearly three years. There was, after all that time, no substantiation for the allegations that had been made. In fact they had acted on the mere suspicions of a new employee, in their office for just two weeks, with a hatred for one of the accused and who should have had sufficient experience to know better.  

The allegations were ultimately dropped and the Court found that a body of evidence to support the allegations had never existed. The battle for redress continues today some six years later. 

The point to consider with this case is that untrue, fabricated, flawed or exaggerated allegations can be made by anyone against anyone at any time. All that is required is a rumour, a piece of paper, an idea, a grudge, a misunderstanding, a miscommunication. Also required is a naïve ear, a desperation to believe the worst or someone with an ulterior motive prepared to develop the intrigue.  

In the case outlined three people and their businesses were irreparably harmed by baseless allegations. Let us ensure that this country is not similarly harmed by continuing an ongoing rhetoric based on bias, minimal fact, rumour and innuendo. 

Trial by media is out of order and the political machinations currently employed to manoeuvre in this upcoming election year an unpopular negative approach and uncalled for. It could be argued that the ongoing tiresome repetitive discourse, being carried out daily without any real substance, may be causing more harm and concern than the core of the topic itself. 

There are sadly far more important and testing issues to be tackled with the same degree of energy and enthusiasm. 

Let the investigation take its course. In the meantime let us not destroy the Premier and his family by as yet unsubstantiated gossip. We must also be mindful of his colleagues. All of them are charged with the task of trying to raise this country and its people, from all walks of life and political persuasions, from the depths of recession. 

The negative politics, personality assassination and hypocritical sentiments from many will not pay the mortgage nor will they put bread and butter on the table. 

Instead of hasty, expensive and emotional reaction with irresponsible discourteous and unprofessional behaviour, as reflected in the other case outlined, let us be responsible and patient and allow the facts to be produced before action is taken. 

There will be sufficient time to be judgmental when the system we have in place runs its course. Who knows, as in the other case, evidence may again be non existent. We should wait and see. 

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5 COMMENTS

  1. This has all been said before on this forum, from the more objective and non-politically motivated commenters, who are, unfortunately in the minority.

    In the related article on the details of the ‘dynamite’ issue in today’s newspaper, it is clear that an administrative oversight took place, nothing more, and from this led to a question of the legality of the importation, based on a technicality.

    My question is…how does a request from the minister of finance to the collector of customs to speed up the processing of the documentation, assuming that the correct documentation has finally been completed, lead to a police investigation of the premiere ?

    What exactly is he being investigated for ?

    Obviously the material was not imported illegally, it is meant for a legitimate business purpose.

    Is he being investigated for asking the customs to release the material without the proper documentation ?

    That is not evident from this news article.

    This gives every credibility to McKeeva Bush’s assertations that he is being targeted purposely.

    Again, excellent investigative journalism by the Caycompass staff.

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  2. That may be so, but surely the credibility of the witness must be considered in any balancing of the truth. For many, the years of skirting rumour and accusation by the defendent, with little or no believable effort to explain, has diminished any level of trust to be found. And as to the investigative journalism are you so naive as to think this wasn’t an oportunity to carefully craft a response to present information in as best a light possible, Cayman can’t tolerate investigative journalism.

    Consider this, you have a job to do, you have an important assessment to make on the suitability of the application, you would normally weigh the suitability of the request based solely on the facts. Instead you get a note from the Premier to the effect of ‘make it happen’, not hurry up and check the relevant paperwork is in order, just ‘make it happen’, can you infer that ‘the make it happen’ means without proper documentation? Absolutley.

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  3. I agree fundamentally with the concept of trial by media however self serving this article may be .

    It is very easy to damage someone’s character with very little effort these days be it on line or on the marl road.

    In you article you say .. untrue, fabricated, flawed or exaggerated allegations can be made by anyone against anyone at any time. All that is required is a rumour, a piece of paper, an idea, a grudge, a misunderstanding, a miscommunication.

    Couldn’t agree more , practice what you preach.

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  4. One might have expected the RCIP to state that the importer of the explosive material was under investigation. It is strange that the RCIP only stated that the premier was under investigation.

    Putting the letter to customs and NRA might have been wrong or even foolish but it clearly indicates that he was not trying to hide his intervention.

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  5. The dynamite appears to be an administrative matter but I would dispute that it was exaggerated. The police said only that there was an investigation and that the premier was peripherally involved. This is precisely true. The media has hardly exaggerated the other ridiculous shenanigans that have been going on, and it will not do to go back to the old procedure of handling everything in the backroom out of sight–no matter how fondly some may recall those days.

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