Former premier, customs collector dispute lawsuit

Former Premier McKeeva Bush has denied claims made in a Feb. 16 lawsuit that he was ultimately responsible for the removal of former National Roads Authority managing director Brian Tomlinson.

Former Customs Collector Carlon Powery also stated that claims made in Mr. Tomlinson’s suit mischaracterize his involvement in a February 2012 importation of blasting materials to Grand Cayman.

In response to the claims made in the suit, Mr Bush said that at the time Mr. Tomlinson served as NRA managing director, the authority did not fall under his government ministry.

“I don’t know anything about when he left, what he did or what he didn’t do,” Mr. Bush said. “I certainly had no discussions with him and I had no discussions with anyone about him. I didn’t hear when he left there until months later, but since the publication of the lawsuit, you’re hearing all sorts of things.

“I wasn’t the minister responsible and certainly I don’t know anything more [about the dismissal] than what I heard.”

The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Tomlinson was dismissed following the 2012 explosives importation incident.

According to suit: “Mr. Tomlinson reported to the Cayman Islands governor an irregularity between the then-Premier McKeeva Bush and the Collector of Customs [Carlon Powery] which involved the collector of customs approving an importation of illegal explosives on instruction from the premier despite Mr. Tomlinson refusing the importation.

“In his role with [the NRA], Mr. Tomlinson was responsible for the approval of all imports of explosives into the islands and his actions had been perfectly correct. However … Mr. Tomlinson was informed by Richard Christiansen, a licensed blaster, that [Mr. Tomlinson] had “not pleased” the premier and the premier would seek to have him removed from his post. Mr. Tomlinson’s employment terminated on Nov. 30, 2012 with the [roads authority] giving inconsistent reasons of budget cuts on the one hand and sickness absence on the other.”

Mr. Powery, the former customs collector, said, “The collector of customs has no authority to approve the importation of explosives or any restricted item and the goods [referred to in the lawsuit] remained there until a permit was obtained by the importer.”

Mr. Bush was arrested in connection with a police probe of the dynamite importation in December 2012, along with Suresh Prasad, but was never charged with any crimes. Eventually, the company responsible for the importation – Midland Acres – was fined over the incident. Mr. Prasad was never convicted of any offenses related to the importation.

The lawsuit argues that Mr. Tomlinson’s June 2012 notice of dismissal “amounted to unfair dismissal” of a man the authority knew to be suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. The suit claims he has been unable to work since his dismissal.

The lawsuit seeks damages for medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, breach of contract, and attorneys’ costs.

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