Bush questions airport computer porn investigation

Political interference alleged

Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush publicly questioned last week the status of an internal personnel investigation at the Cayman Islands Airports Authority that involved an employee allegedly using a government computer to view pornography websites.  

Mr. Bush’s queries were raised during Thursday and Friday meetings of the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee. He said during the course of one month, the employee had visited more than 1,600 sites or links and that those links had been visited more than 450 times.  

The employee, who was not named in the Finance Committee proceedings, works in information technology at the airports authority. Airport security chief Shane Bothwell told Mr. Bush that during an investigation he conducted, the employee was suspended. Mr. Bothwell said his investigation could not conclude with absolute certainty who had used the computer to view pornography.  

“Chain of custody of that computer cannot be verified and [there is] the real possibility that [pornographic images] could have been put on the computer,” Mr. Bothwell said.  

Authority board chairman Kirkland Nixon told the committee that the governing body of the airports authority did not become involved in the investigation, even though Mr. Bush indicated that a letter he saw revealed Mr. Bothwell had received instructions about it from the board and from acting airports authority chief executive Andrew McLaughlin.  

“This letter tells us there was interference [by the board]….by ordering firstly that the investigation be concluded and ordering that the employee be brought back to work,” Mr. Bush said. “I will not be told that the board was not party to gross interference.”  

Mr. Bush was also incredulous at the investigation’s findings. “The computer could not be accessed without the password. Two people had the password. The other person that did have access by password was off on vacation [at the time the sites were viewed] and it says so in the documents.  

“This committee has not been told the truth. I am not going to countenance being told half of what happened.” 

Mr. Bothwell said the investigation was initially started under a previous acting airports chief executive, Kerith McCoy, who was appointed to serve before Mr. McLaughlin. Mr. Bothwell said the airports authority “had a change in CEO,” but by then the matter had been going on for several months.  

Mr. Bothwell said he was instructed to complete the investigation, which eventually led to the reinstatement of the employee.  

“How was he reinstated?” Mr. Bush asked.  

Mr. Bothwell said he determined what appropriate rules existed for such matters and identified the ones “we could definitely say had been broken.” He wrote up the infractions and the employee was then put back to work after agreeing with Mr. Bothwell’s report and signing it.  

“The reinstatement was done with the knowledge of the policy violations,” Mr. Bush said. “This was the use of the IT network for all these porn sites [which he then went on to list by name].”  

At that point, Finance Committee Chairman Marco Archer cut off Mr. Bush. “It is sufficient to state he visited these sites.”  

“If this was anybody else, this would have already come out,” Mr. Bush said.  

Mr. Archer again attempted to intervene: “Perhaps, on the far stretch, you could argue that this has something to do with [budget] appropriations, but I have to question what we hope to achieve with this line of questioning.”  

“There was a staff member suspended…then brought back and paid for a long time,” Mr. Bush said. “The rules were broken, not only central government rules but the authority rules itself.”  

Eventually Mr. Archer called for a break in the debate. Government members then spent the next two to three hours Thursday night meeting privately to discuss the issue with the attorney general.  

On Friday afternoon, Mr. Archer addressed the Finance Committee on the issue again. Legislative Assembly members spent some six hours in total between Thursday and Friday discussing this subject both in committee and privately.  

“Though this Finance Committee has wide remit to discuss things…we cannot act as a tribunal if there is no appropriation [involved in the discussion],” he said. “What we ended up doing [Thursday] was actually litigating the matter itself. 

“I don’t think the committee has any remit to investigate any further.”  

Mr. Archer suggested that the complaints commissioner’s office, or even the Legislative Assembly itself, not Finance Committee, would be a better place to deal with the issue.  

North Side MLA Ezzard Miller indicated that testimony by various airport officials regarding the computer pornography matter represented a common problem that had occurred in previous Finance Committee hearings where individuals answering questions had not been entirely truthful.  

“And every time we try to get to the bottom of something, somebody intervenes with a legal opinion to cover it up,” he said.  

Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, who was called before the committee on Friday to provide legal advice on the matter, recommended that if legislators wished to pursue matters further, a select committee of the whole House might be convened to discuss the issue. 

After discussion of that possibility, during which Mr. Bush urged that Mr. Nixon and Mr. McCoy be called to give further evidence in the matter, the legislature broke again for discussion behind closed doors.  

Premier McLaughlin reported to the House Friday night that the government would not agree to nominate a select committee to look into the issue, although they would make their own inquiries into what happened at the airports authority.  

“The government regards this as a very serious matter,” Mr. McLaughlin said. 

Mr. Bush then alleged that the airports authority board had also “influenced” former acting CEO McCoy’s “retirement or dismissal” earlier this year.  

“I believe that the board grossly interfered in the process,” he said.  

McKeeva-Bush

Mr. Bush

Marco-Archer

Mr. Archer
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3 COMMENTS

  1. Is it even possible during the course of one month to visit more than 1,600 porn sites or links? While the individual in question works in IT I am concerned that their workstation might have been hacked by some external entity as I don’t see how any one individual could have visited that many porn sites during a one month period.

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  2. What I question is how on earth so much of the finance committee can be wasted on an issue that has clearly been resolved. It was resolved by the body that governs that department. Is it not enough that govt has far more pressing issues to deal with than trying to micro-manage other departments.

    Stop wasting time and money on non-issues.

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  3. I think if you disciplined everyone in the Cayman Islands who viewed porn on a work computer or used it to view Facebook and YouTube videos when they were supposed to be working there will be no one left in a job.

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