The month-long trial of former Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush cost the Cayman Islands government nearly $155,000, according to figures released this week under the Freedom of Information Law.
However, that figure does not include what Mr. Bush personally spent defending himself, nor does the information provided recount the cost of investigating Mr. Bush on public corruption charges. He was acquitted of all charges.
“No doubt it cost the Crown a whole lot more than just the trial,” Mr. Bush said Wednesday. “The investigation since 2011 has cost this country millions of dollars.”
Mr. Bush declined to discuss how much he spent on lawyers and indicated that various investigations had been pursued against him over the past three years, including two cases in which he was not charged.
Mr. Bush’s lawyer, Michael Alberga, did not comment on whether his client would seek to recover any costs.
According to records released by the Director of Public Prosecutions Office, some $121,655.69 [converted from British Pounds Sterling] was spent on “counsel fees.” British attorney Duncan Penny, QC, was lead counsel for the prosecution during the trial, and the Crown also employed a junior outside counsel.
Other expenses for the trial included the cost of temporary work permits [$3,740], the cost of airfare to the Cayman Islands [$6,192.40], local accommodations for the attorneys [approximately $21,975.38, converted from U.S. dollars] and car rental expenses of approximately $1,348.55.
The total in converted local currency was $154,912.20, according to the records provided.
Mr. Bush’s October 2014 acquittal on 11 criminal charges marked the end of a saga that began two-and-a-half years ago when former Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor revealed that the then-premier was under criminal investigation.
In April 2012, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service announced that then-Premier Bush was actually involved in three investigations.
An investigation into “financial irregularities” – unspecified at the time – was later revealed as the allegations related to Mr. Bush’s government credit card use – the only case in which he was eventually charged. A land transaction investigation involving Mr. Bush ended with no arrests or charges against anyone. Mr. Bush and local businessman Suresh Prasad were later arrested in connection with importation of explosives, but neither was ever charged. In the end, Mr. Prasad’s company was charged and fined over the incident.
In December 2012, Mr. Bush’s West Bay home was searched by police in connection with a government credit card investigation. A number of items, including books he had purchased in the United Kingdom, and various paper records were seized.
On Wednesday, Mr. Bush said the police had returned all those items.
According to a speech he made in late December 2012, Mr. Bush listed the titles of the books that were taken including: “Sergeant for the Commons,” “Pistols at Dawn,” “Dodd’s House of Commons Procedure,” “House of Lords,” “House of Commons,” “A Radical History of Britain,” “The New British Constitution,” “Democracy,” “House Magazine MP Photo Guide,” “Times Guide to the House of Commons,” “The Coalition: Our Programme for Government,” “Constitution and Administrative Law,” “Britain’s Prime Ministers,” “All Will be Well,” ‘“The Conservatives: a History,” “The Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill,” “Dishonorable Insults,” “The Clegg Coup,” “Keep Calm and Carry On,” “The Lost Art of the Great Speech,” “Westminster Hall,” “Order! Order! A Parliamentary Miscellany,” “Churchill: Power of Words and the Words of Our Time.”
Many of those books were in Mr. Bush’s personal vehicle Wednesday when he stopped by to show the Cayman Compass that the items had been returned. The returned items also included a U.K. House of Commons pen, which was still sealed in a police evidence bag.
“They’re going back to my home,” Mr. Bush, said, referring to the items that were given back. “I paid back [the government-issued credit card] for all of these.”