A photo circulated on the Internet that appeared to show Cayman Islands Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush sleeping in his chair at the Legislative Assembly was altered, the opposition leader said Wednesday.
The photo, purportedly taken on May 20, the day the opposition leader gave his formal response to the government’s 2015/16 budget proposal, depicted Mr. Bush slouched to the side in his chair behind a speaking podium.
It appeared to have been taken from the floor of the Legislative Assembly, and it showed up later in the day on the Facebook page of a well-known Progressives party supporter.
Mr. Bush, who had raised the issue of the photo as a “matter affecting the privilege of members of the House,” said there were a number of reasons to suspect the photo had been digitally altered. House Speaker Juliana O’Connor-Connolly allowed Mr. Bush to present the matter, but ruled later in the day that it was not a matter of parliamentary privilege.
Mr. Bush said he had reviewed video taken of the Legislative Assembly chamber that noted he had been drinking a bottled water at time he was giving his speech, but that water did not appear in the photograph. Instead, an upside-down glass and a smaller glass behind it were depicted.
“I do not drink water from a glass,” Mr. Bush said. “I don’t know how that glass … and a second glass [got] there [in the photograph],” he said.
Mr. Bush also claimed that the photo had been doctored to make his eyes appear to be closed and, in doing so, part of the lenses from the glasses he was wearing had been “cropped.”
“This photo matter is inexcusable, is a deliberate attack on my character, and it has been carried out by members of the opposite party with involvement of other people,” Mr. Bush said Wednesday. He claimed that this was a matter that affected all members of the assembly, any of whom he said might have been targeted in this way.
“This attempt has brought more ridicule on me and that is what it was meant to do,” he said, adding that some residents had asked him in jest if he “had a good sleep” after the photo was circulated.
Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly said last week that taking photographs in the Legislative Assembly building was against House rules, unless the Speaker had given express permission to do so. Premier Alden McLaughlin addressed Mr. Bush’s concerns briefly, stating that if the opposition leader had proof of his allegations, he should produce it.
“He has charged that this … the taking of this photograph, and presumably its dissemination, was an attack on him by members of the opposing party or the governing party,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “Those are grave allegations and I presume … we will have evidence of this fact.”
The assembly did not discuss the matter further after the Speaker’s ruling that it did not constitute a matter affecting the privilege of LA members.