Evidence intended to be used to disprove Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin’s case during the course of an upcoming civil trial is fabricated and, in some cases, contains forged signatures, the premier alleged Thursday during a meeting of the Legislative Assembly.
Mr. McLaughlin also said that there was a police investigation under way into the “fabricated” records, one of which Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush attempted to read in the House Thursday morning. Mr. Bush was seeking to support his ongoing claims that high-ranking government officials – including Mr. McLaughlin, former Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor and Police Commissioner David Baines – conspired to remove Mr. Bush as premier during 2011-2012.
Mr. McLaughlin has sued Mr. Bush for defamation over these conspiracy allegations, which surfaced earlier in the year when the opposition leader filed a private members’ motion claiming that the coordinated conspiracy had “toppled” the lawfully elected United Democratic Party government and removed Mr. Bush as premier.
Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner David Baines confirmed the existence of an investigation into the documents late Thursday.
“I can confirm that an investigation is under way into the origin and authenticity of a number of documents as described by Premier Alden McLaughlin [at Thursday’s] Legislative Assembly,” Mr. Baines said. “The matter was reported to me by Premier McLaughlin. After initially receiving his report, I handed over the oversight and investigation into the matter to Deputy Commissioner of Police Stephen Brougham and recused myself, as being the alleged author of some of the correspondence presents a conflict of interest.
“In the interest of transparency, it is important the investigation is conducted without my oversight or involvement. I am unable to comment further.”
The evidence issue arose as Mr. Bush was debating another private members’ motion he had filed, seeking to change the membership of the local Anti-Corruption Commission. Mr. Bush said the membership of the commission, including the police commissioner as chairman and the auditor general as a member, was “biased” and had created the evidence against him that its own members then investigated and helped to prosecute.
During the debate, Mr. Bush read one email – already made public during the course of his criminal trial – in which former Governor Taylor and a U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office official discussed how to get members of the former UDP government to “finally ask [Mr. Bush] to step aside.”
It was the next email Mr. Bush attempted to read that caused a parliamentary uproar.
“Madam Speaker, the next [document] that I want to lay on the table is one to the governor from the commissioner of police,” Mr. Bush said during the debate. “This is the 10th of December, 2012.”
Mr. Bush went on to read the email: “I have concluded the discussion with the Hon. Alden McLaughlin, he is in full agreement ….”
At this point Mr. Bush was cut off by both Speaker of the House Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and Mr. McLaughlin.
“Hon. Leader of the Opposition, you are aware as much as all honorable members are aware, that there is a [civil court case] ensuing between the Hon. Premier and yourself,” Ms. O’Connor-Connolly said. “There is a current motion which has not gone through the business committee yet [referring to Mr. Bush’s conspiracy motion]. So, any reference to the Hon. Premier insofar as it relates to those proceedings, please refrain from making.”
Mr. McLaughlin then opined that Mr. Bush had already gone beyond the pale by trying to read the document into the House records.
“The Leader of the Opposition knows that in response to the writ and statement of claim which I have had filed against him for defamation, he filed a defense on the 19th of June, in which he claims, among other things, that he is in possession of documentation which tends to show my involvement in the conspiracy which he has alleged,“ Mr. McLaughlin said. “My lawyers served on his lawyers a notice to produce this evidence. They have produced four documents, the one just referred to which purports to be from the commissioner of police to the governor of 10th of Dec,  the day before Mr. Bush was arrested … is one of those such documents.
“The Leader of the Opposition knows full well that my lawyers have asked his lawyers repeatedly to explain the provenance of those documents,“ Mr. McLaughlin continued. “There is a police investigation under way because the documents are fabricated, they are fraudulent. The document which [Mr. Bush] is proposing to read is a document that has been made up and the question for him, which he must answer … is where did it come from, who fabricated it and how did it come into his possession?
“What we now have is a situation where allegations about me are being based on what … we now know to be fabricated documents. Fabricated documents in the possession of the Leader of the Opposition. Tell the country where those documents came from. They were not disclosed in the context of the criminal trial against him, they have been disclosed in the context of the civil trial and no one on his side is prepared to say to my lawyers where they got them from. Perhaps he and others will tell the police how they came to have fabricated documents with forged signatures on them.”
Mr. Bush did not comment on the premier’s allegations regarding fabricated evidence.
“The courts will have to decide who and what is right and wrong,” Mr. Bush said.
At that point, the Speaker of the House said she did not expect to hear any further debate on the matter.
Mr. Bush was acquitted of corruption charges last year following his arrest in December 2012. Prosecutors alleged that he had spent some $50,000 from government credit cards to gamble at casinos in the Bahamas and south Florida.
However, Mr. Bush has said the damage to him and his former party has already been done.
“What happened to me should serve to remind all of them that those people are not respectful of any of us in this House,” Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Bush, during his debate on the motion to change the Anti-Corruption Commission membership, said that the body should be independent from the investigations it directs.
Instead, it has morphed, he said, into what U.S. President James Madison once described as “the very definition of tyranny.”
“[The commission members] end up as complainants, they end up as the investigators and are even involved in the prosecutions,” Mr. Bush said. “They are a law unto themselves.”
Mr. McLaughlin said his government, advised by the attorney general, was in the process of reviewing the commission membership and was generally minded to increase its overall membership and include fewer civil servants on the panel.
Right now, the commission is only made up of the police commissioner, auditor general and complaints commissioner. Two civilian appointees to the commission have seen their appointments expire and they have not been replaced.