Reflections on the 
McKeeva Bush trial (and verdict)

Throughout the trial of former Premier McKeeva Bush, one recurring thought kept intruding into our minds: “Is this all there is?”

Surely, we thought, prosecutors were waiting for the perfect moment to drop their big bomb.

The bomb, indeed, was dropped – but not by the prosecutors.

Mr. Bush’s defense team, led by attorneys Michael Alberga and Geoffrey Cox, in a perfect “Perry Mason moment,” revealed Governor Duncan Taylor’s emails corroborating Mr. Bush’s long-standing contention that the investigation amounted to nothing more than a “political witch hunt.”

“I’m not opening any quiet bubbly until it is confirmed,” Governor Taylor wrote. “When it is, there will be a huge sigh of relief across the Cayman Islands, including a loud one from this office.”

How very wrong Governor Taylor was.

Some 19 months later, Mr. Bush – by a unanimous verdict of a Caymanian jury — was found “not guilty” on all 11 counts of corruption pursued by prosecutors, charges that related to Mr. Bush’s use of his government-issued credit card.

Despite initial reactions of jubilation from supporters of Mr. Bush at the verdict, at no point during the investigation, trial and ultimate acquittal has there been any cause for celebration in Cayman. What we have witnessed is a breathtakingly bold intervention on the part of British authorities into the political affairs of these islands. It is squarely in the tradition of the Euro Bank scandal and Operation Tempura – for starters.

Following the conclusion of the trial, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a statement in support of their appointee Governor Taylor, saying, “The former governor’s comments are not relevant to the outcome of either the investigation or the trial.”

It is, of course, impossible for the FCO to know anything of the sort. Neither they, nor we, nor anyone can read the minds of the jurors, and, notwithstanding the judge’s instructions to disregard the governor’s motivations, it is highly unlikely that they – or anyone else – could completely compartmentalize these revelations.

In effect, they became the signature event – and lasting legacy – of the trial, not for Mr. Bush, but for the Cayman Islands and its ongoing relationship with the United Kingdom.

The FCO statement went on to say, “It is right that the allegations against Mr. Bush were subject to a full investigation. The decision to prosecute was a matter for the independent Director for Public Prosecutions.”

It is unknown (and likely will never be known) the degree of enthusiasm that DPP Cheryll Richards brought to the prosecution of this case or the degree of confidence she had in the evidence to bring about a successful prosecutorial outcome.

What we do know is that Ms. Richards’s legal team (to engage a gambling metaphor) appeared to have a very weak hand and to strengthen it, appeared to put casino gambling itself on trial. That legal strategy, highly dependent on moral and ethical considerations, apparently never resonated with the jury.

As far as Mr. Bush’s personal judgment, that will be put to a further test, not before jurors in courtrooms, but before voters in polling stations.

Perhaps Governor Taylor did have a point, after all. Caymanians may well treat themselves to some “quiet bubbly” as they ponder recent events.

Double Alka-Seltzer, please. On the rocks.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Things like the Euro Bank scandal, Operation Tempura, and now what some people might call Operation Quiet Bubbly, have in the eyes of many people damaged the relationship between the UK and the Cayman Islands and left them feeling that there are groups of people operating in the Cayman Islands that are essentially allowed to do whatever they want without any consequences even if it undermines the reputation and good standing of the Cayman Islands.

  2. That day will never leave the minds of the people of Cayman who sat in that Court House day after day. It was like Hurricane Ivan; it came to kill steal and destroy, but the powers that be heard the cry’s of the innocent, cleansed this Island and made it better.
    I always believed in Mr Bush when he told his people that there was a Witch Hunt out for him.
    Paragraph 5 of this editorial says it all, and the dumbest person should read between the lines and understand what that means.
    My heart ached to think that our own people were riding brooms with black coats and top hats.
    Furthermore, being aware of the relationship between the Governor and Mr. Bush, I was not surprised hearing the comments of the emails; and those of the FCO in your paragraph 9.
    Honest and sensible people listening to these comments would not have expected them to say anything else.
    My astonishment is however; how could they have come to such a conclusion, unless they were on a broom.
    I for one, is a born Caymanian and I could not read the Stone Faced minds of the Jurors, but I observed that they were men and women of integrity and intelligence of this Island.
    To really experience the Saga of this trial, one would have to have been there. No way could reading the papers give you the fullness of such a breath taking experience.
    I observed the Judge being careful about being impartial in his addressing of the Jurors, because in front of him were spectators from all walks of life, including Lawyers, Postman, policeman, Immigration, gardeners and housewives. Pastors, fishermen, Indians chief and police. All listening carefully with a watchful eye.
    The facts are that it was plain to the eyes and ears of the public that something sinister lurked between the pages.
    For more than one hundred years the people of Cayman echoed that the British never stepped up to the plate in looking after the Island. Now that the Cayman Islands have become the Centre of Attraction of the West they are attempting to design our clothes. Why can’t they just loosen up and take the ribbon from their hair and let it fall.
    I have no feelings of anger being called a BOTC because I have done my homework into the Geneses of Cayman Islands, and know that the original Cayman vein is British and Africa, and also that the first person to set foot on this Islands were the Wicca Indians of Honduras. The British came after and set up a flag. But many times I wonder, where is the originality of this vein, are we really a part of the original Romans? Homework for the weekend.

  3. Given the outcome of the trial and verdict one can only wonder if those people who called for Mr. Bush to resign were doing so for personal political reasons.
    McKeeva enflames some local passions as well.

  4. I Personally believe that they never expected Mr Bush to be convicted nor could they care less, because the damage was already done to his political career and reputation. He was ousted and not reelected, his party has been shattered and it is quite obvious that it was all the result of the strategic release of information about investigations with just enough details to sour his name in peoples eyes. Even now people are looking for reasons to demonize him, because over the past few years all they have heard is Anti-Bush propaganda.

    Look at how vocal they were about the accusations but how quietly they were all dropped. There were copies of letters which were made to appear like requests for bribes released all over the news media, information about explosives importation, even his arrest and home search was perfectly crafted and timed to appear in every newspaper. Yet while non of these investigations yielded any charges, that fact was quietly kept under the carpet. I can easily picture Mr. Taylor enjoying his bubbly over a good laugh with his cronies when the vote of no confidence was dropped, because it was a sign that the anti bush campaign was working.

    I watched for years as the opposition launched an attach on Bush like a pack of hungry wolves, fighting every idea he put on the plate, parading real estate letters in front of the news cameras and calling for more investigations into his activities, yet they have nothing to say about the political interference into the Caymanian political system by outsiders. This is simply because it landed them back in office by overshadowing the damage they did to the economy with their unsustainable spending habits that nearly bankrupted Cayman. It should be obvious to everyone that they won the last election based on a campaign of Bush Bashing and false promises. The only one I’ve actually seen them live up to so far is the No Dump in Bodden Town promise and that was solely a political choice obviously made without considering the welfare of the whole nation. I for one will not have any respect for them unless they reveal the solution they claimed to already have for the GT Dump, you know that one they stood up in front of that nation and said as I quote ‘We have alternate sustainable solutions for the remediation of the Georgetown dump on site. That speech by Mr Bodden has been echoing in my mind every since he said it and until I see this solution my impression is that they are all liars. And hiring a committee to come up with one the will cost the nation hundreds of millions or dollars will not change my mind when they it was already supposed to have existed.

  5. This is case was ridiculous to say the least. What I find more disgusting than a politician that gambles, is a government that plots to take down a sitting premier and has no regard for this country. That is shameful and disgusting and they should be held accountable for this act.

  6. Mr Arthur trust me when I say you would die of a sudden heart attack if you would only know who are the Bankers for the Gambling, lottery or what ever we may call it in Cayman. Big Big people in Big Big places.

  7. I recall when I first arrived in the Islands, Mr Bush had just been forced to stand down from the Executive, apparently his involvement in the fated First Cayman Bank was the cause, and a document purporting to be an affidavit of the liquidator was circulating prior to the subsequent election. I asked a work colleague how he could be standing in this election if he had to stand down, and also, how could his fellow countrymen consider him as suitable.
    I was treated to a long explanation of his abilities, however, the more I heard over the coming years, the more I wondered how he was electable.
    Whilst I think the comments of Governor Taylor were unfortunate, I do believe that any period of time when the Islands are saved from the Bush form of Government are to be welcomed, including as it does numerous examples of bad management, and so many unanswered questions. For example, just why did he feel it unnecessary to use due diligence before awarding contracts? There are many others all well documented, but after reading the ramblings of Ms Vargas, I suspect that many still blindly believe he has done no wrong, and thats why he remains electable, sad really!

  8. Mr Arthur the difference between your ramblings and mine are; yours, you have gathered from bits and pieces of news gossip mongering comments you have acquired here and there.
    Mine are completely different. I do not write hear-say. I do my homework get the facts and then I write. Some may dislike my dramatic way of putting forward the truth; but who cares. This is a free world where I believe and we are all free to like and dislike.
    Further more I would feel uncomfortable if everyone liked what I said, because then I know the freedom of democracy was failing.
    You may think you know about all what go on in my Island. No Sir Mr Arthur you do not. You cannot see the trees for the leaves; check further down, I am at the roots.

  9. So, Ms Vargas, is it hearsay to recall the First Cayman Bank, the lost family savings and who were directors of that bank?
    Is it hearsay to recall the repeated failure to adhere to proper standards in government (due diligence!)
    I think not!
    I could go on, but I wouldnt want to be accused of rambling!

  10. I do not want to be judgmental on any one person, but being an avid reader and Political Watch Dog, I have had the opportunity to see who do most of the blogging, whether it is Ghost bloggers or name signed; and they are certainly not Home Grown. Referring to your question on First Cayman Bank Mr Arthur, I wonder if you know that Mr Bush was NOT the manger, and I wonder if you know that during that saga, Mr Bush concern was only to assist the people of Cayman with getting on their feet with homes and their business.
    When a foreigner has given u their own country rights and been given the right to be a Caymanian and only uses that right to fight against the people of Cayman; that person does not genuinely care two bits about the Island people. If it is all about them and their imported thoughts their families and friends to manipulate our Government Leaders and boards, then they will always be in Hot water here. Most have an ITCH to scratch.
    In Plain English; You are either with Us or against us.

  11. Ms Vargas, I didnt claim he was the manger sic, but he was a Director, and whilst he may have wanted to help his fellow countrymen through that Bank, the end result was the opposite, and that is how I judge a politician!
    Its sad when people resort to them and us comments about foreigners. Thats when you know they are scraping the barrel1

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