Legislators vote to pull Compass advertising

Legislators voted on Monday to pull Government advertising and cease any commercial activity with the Cayman Compass newspaper in response to an editorial which Premier Alden McLaughlin has described as “treasonous.” 

The premier again condemned the editorial about corruption in the territory, published Wednesday, June 3, saying it was a “full frontal assault on the Cayman Islands and its people” as he gave his support to economic sanctions against the newspaper. 

Following the premier’s accusations on Friday, Mr. Legge and his wife, co-publisher Vicki Legge, were placed under police protection and left the island temporarily. 

The newspaper dedicated its front page on Monday to an image, “in memoriam” of free speech in the Cayman Islands. 

East End legislator Arden McLean, who brought the motion Monday night to cease commercial activity with the Compass, had a message for Mr. Legge. 

“Stop destroying our country and running it down,” he said. “Tombstones? We have to be careful about how we plant them and whose name appear upon them.” 

Several other legislators condemned the original editorial, which suggested Cayman’s leaders had been slow to respond to allegations of bribery within FIFA, involving Cayman soccer official Jeffrey Webb, in part because corruption was so commonplace in the territory that people were slow to recognize it. 

Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden said, “I think it is only in the Cayman Islands that such an act could be done and such a peaceful revolution take place. Most times when this happens people are run out of town.” 

Politicians agreed to suspend the usual standing orders, governing Legislative Assembly procedure, on Monday night to bring the motion against the Compass during a hearing of Finance Committee to discuss the country’s annual budget. 

The motion brought by Mr. McLean alters and supersedes a similar motion brought by the same legislator on Friday which was mis-phrased to suggest the opposite intent. 

Mr. McLean’s new motion, supported 11-0 by the legislators present, with the United Democratic Party legislators McKeeva Bush and Bernie Bush abstaining, stated: 

“Be it therefore resolved that this honorable Finance Committee condemn the editorial of Wednesday 3 June, 2015 and the subsequent actions of the Cayman Compass, the island’s only daily newspaper, by resolving to immediately cease all government advertising or any other commercial activity by ministries, portfolios, departments, government entities, government owned companies and statutory authorities with the Cayman Compass, its parent company, if any and its affiliates.” 

Government currently uses the newspaper to advertise jobs, tenders for government contracts, planning applications and other public notices. It also uses one of the Compass’s sister companies to print various things, including official election ballots. 

Some legislators expressed concern about how it would look internationally and how it might affect jobs at the newspaper and its printing business. 

Independent George Town MLA Roy McTaggart said, “I know there could be consequences for people locally, and there could be consequences internationally by all that has gone on, but I firmly believe there are times in one’s life when you have to stand up and be counted.” 

Mr. McTaggart then voted in favor of the motion, as did fellow independent George Town MLA Winston Connolly. 

The editorial in question described corruption as too commonplace in Cayman, calling it an insidious, creeping crime. 

Mr. McLean’s relationship with the newspaper has been strained since last year when he was the subject of news stories and editorials that revealed that he had used his government credit card to buy a diamond-studded ladies watch. Mr. McLean, who defended himself at the time by producing receipts to show he had paid the money back, said his bringing the motion was not personal and denied that it was an effort to suppress freedom of the press. 


Publisher David R. Legge


  1. The Cayman Compass should not shy away from reporting on the specific issue/s surrounding the sudden departure of Mr. Legge from the Cayman Islands. While the public does not need to know the details, it is still important to know if there was a specific and credible threat against Mr. Legge and/or a member of his family that resulted in him receiving RCIPS protection and then suddenly departing the island.

    This is a serious issue and the country should not stand for any threat of violence against Mr. Legge (or anyone else for that matter) in his capacity as publisher and owner of the Compass as that goes against everything that this country stands for. On the other hand, if the governor provided taxpayer funded protection and any other taxpayer related services simply because of what was said in the LA by the Premier, that, in my opinion, is a whole different matter that requires its own investigation.

  2. What reason did Leader of the Opposition Hon. McKeeva Bush and Deputy Leader of the Opposition Bernie Bush give for why they abstained from voting on the motion? Can the Cayman Compass or those MLAs please clarify that?

  3. I think it is funny how these politicians can act so fast when someone speaks about CORRUPTION in a editorial, but can’t act on the real thing "CORRUPTION" I wonder if Mr Connolly has forgotten that he said that CORRUPTION need to stop in these Islands, and if the motion of corruption was to be brought to the LA, would the politicians act so fast. I think that whoever is involved in this massive global scandal of FIFA corruption has done more damages to the Cayman Islands, than what Mr Legge has done. I really wonder if these politicians see what corruption and dishonesty can do to one’s life and country.

  4. What irks me is that the 2003 status grants (the process) was considered "steeped" in corruption; yet that same process gave Legge his status.
    If he disliked corruption so much, why did he accept his status???

  5. CNS piece The man who ran has attracted lots of comments. Heated, obscene and hateful anonymous comments toward Mr.Legge have safely passed through CNS moderation policy. Does Mr. Legge, or any other human being deserve this profanity and wanton viciousness? This heap of cruel and bitter criticism and self-righteous cynicism? All with CNS approval. Anonymity brings out the worst in some people. They say things they would never say in the presence of flesh-and-blood human beings. Or the civil self is a mask? You can’t separate what you do online and what you do in real life. I don’t blame Mr. Legge for leaving the island.

  6. Will the Cayman Compass please investigate and report on the reasons for the following: "Mr. Legge and his wife, co-publisher Vicki Legge, were placed under police protection". Who were they so afraid of, that they needed such protection from? Their shareholder(s?)? Some other stakeholder(s)? Their creditors? And what was the threat?

    And which official authorized that police protection?

    In the interest of free speech I hope the Cayman Compass will speak freely and clarify those matters.

  7. The phrase throwing all the toys out of the pram seems apt here.

    The sad thing about this is that anyone who is familiar with past goings on in the LA will remember one of the MLAs involved in this latest farce dragging a well respected senior police officer before the house and making a concerted effort to discredit him.

    The officer”s only crime was that he had tried too hard to do the job he was entrusted with and in doing so had trodden on more than a few well connected toes.

    If the Hon members really do not like references in the media to corruption they have a very easy solution and that is to put a stop to it.

    Rather than childish gestures like this the LA needs to make it clear that the Cayman Islands not only has a zero tolerance attitude at every level to graft, bribes, kickbacks and questionable favours for friends or family but that is being backed up by effective enforcement.

    Until this happens the media has every right to criticise what most of the outside world, rightly or wrongly, regards as a well established culture of corruption in the Cayman Islands.

  8. Surely our Government”s representatives have just validated Legge”s claims in their own words:

    East End legislator Arden McLean, who brought the motion Monday night to cease commercial activity with the Compass, had a message for Mr. Legge.
    “Stop destroying our country and running it down,” he said. “Tombstones? We have to be careful about how we plant them and whose name appear upon them.”

    Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden said, “I think it is only in the Cayman Islands that such an act could be done and such a peaceful revolution take place. Most times when this happens people are run out of town.”

    …isn’t this exactly what happened??

    Seriously, if our MLAs carry on spouting off like that it is not surprising that we are receiving all the bad international press that we are getting.

  9. If the president of the United States or Any other country publicly accused someone of being Treasonous. They would have already been arrested. The fact that the leader of the country made a statement that this was a treasonous attack on the people of the Cayman Islands in itself can incite violence against him and his family as well as the editor and employees of the compass. If some type of act of violence had been committed against Mr. Legge or anyone associated with this the CIG would be in deep trouble, I am sure this is why they were keeping an eye on him, but that’s not really the issue at hand anyway is it. As for as advertising in the Compass goes, just as another comment pointed out let’s just see how many of them refrain from plastering their photos all over this newspaper during the election.

    I’ve been following this and reading how everyone is so worked up over it, but the fact is that had Alden sucked up what the article said and just carried on with conducting government business not only would this have never made the international media, it would have been long forgotten like all the other editorials and news stories that offend some people.

    Again, I will say what this has accomplished is making everyone forget about the real issues that are facing Cayman like the possible destruction of a huge part of the marine environment being considered by the same people who blasted the last administration for considering the same thing and that the GT dump is still sitting there growing and poisoning the air and sea around us all , most of these things we would have no idea about if it were not for companies like the Cayman Compass as well as all the other News Services small medium or large. Oh one other thing this did was greatly increase the exposure of the Cayman Compass, in the news business any publicity is good for rating whether it be good or bad. A lot more people now know of the Cayman Compass and Mr Legge. You can expect more copies of it to be picked up at the news stand now especially at the airport. Not mention the website since the New York Times published a link to the Compass in their article for all Wall Street and the rest of New York to see.

    News is just what it is news, it’s up to each and every individual to interpret the news the way they want to and develop their own opinions about it. These editorials are opinions and observations and may offend some people. However, if it does, the answer is to offer a different opinion or alternative way of speaking and allow people to dwell on the differences of those opinions then come to their own conclusions. That’s how grownups handle things.
    What Alden did is no different then what he’s filed a lawsuit against Bush for. Once again this shows me a man that dish it but not take it. Or a man that has a great deal to hide expending a huge amount of energy to keep the people that may point the finger at him. Sounds like a destroy them before they revel me strategy, but hey that’s only my opinion and it’s always open to alternative opinion, but you will need to show me factual, concrete and understandable evidence and be prepared to explain your explanation in order to sway how my opinion has developed.

    In my opinion what needs to happen in short is :

    Mr Legge, Come on back home and get back to the business of bringing us the news. We appreciate what you at the Compass do and need you there to keep delivering the news.

    Alden, Get over it and get back to the business of running Cayman. We all know you’ll have the biggest AD in the Compass this time next year.

    Caymanians and Non Caymanians, Can’t we all just get along?

    These are my own personal opinions and observations, something I do have a right to have.

  10. A few months ago free speech was attacked in Paris. Now in Cayman. Time to decide Cayman – free speech or not. To peraphrase the Parisians
    Je suis David Legge

  11. " Be it therefore resolved that this honorable "…..blah, blah, blah. Sadly,
    there is nothing honorable about silencing
    the press. This is truly embarrassing on
    many levels.

  12. According to what I have read about Swiss law –

    the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has up to 40 days to submit a formal request of extradition to the Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) of the 6 FIFA detainees now being held in different prisons in Switzerland, until now none has been allowed release on bail.

    If one assumes that the DOJ’s end objective is snaring the biggest fish they can find (Russians, Qataris, Sepp Blatter, Jerome Volcke, Jack Warner, any foreign government and bank officials involved in kickbacks, bribes), then they are using the 40 days to investigate the detainees, pressure their lawyers to convince them to agree to testify, hand over any hard evidence in exchange for immunity or reduced prison sentences (Chuck Blazer). Now the FIFA 6 are probably all worried about which one of them will agree to testify and be immediately transported to NYC courtesy of the DOJ. If and when that happens, it will be done without prior notice, in the dead of night without time to say goodbye to anyone. Bang. Gone. Hello next days headline in the New York times – "FIFA Official Freed from Jail in Switzerland in Exchange for Squealing"… Will it be Jeffrey Webb? Eduardo Li? There are probably a number of government and bank officials … colleagues, friends and compatriots of the FIFA Swiss 6 in a number of tropical countries not sleeping very well.

    Also, the USA-SWISS extradition treaty states that "Switzerland reserves the right not to extradite its nationals"… whatever that means.. but it provokes an interesting observation – Josep "Sepp" Blatter is a Swiss citizen and he is not attending the current women’s World Cup in Canada which has very a friendly and expeditious extradition treaty with the US. ….. hmmmmmmmm…… Could it be that the DOJ has a sealed indictment against Blatter and they are waiting for him to go to a party in France or Germany and then Angela has the politzei give him an offer he can’t refuse????

  13. I’m a Canadian living in Vancouver. I have loved the Cayman Islands since a visit there (with virtually no money) about 40 years ago as a student during Spring Break. I was very sad to learn about recent decisions regarding the Cayman Compass. I had thought that, in the west anyway, the free speech argument had been thoroughly exhausted! The old adage "sunlight is the best disinfectant" is apt. I implore the government to reconsider its recent actions. I also think they should swallow their pride and plan a big "Welcome Back Mr. Legge" party!" Doug McLeod

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