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.