Government advertising in the Cayman Compass and other Pinnacle Media affiliates will resume immediately.
Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin and Cayman Compass Publisher David R. Legge are pleased to announce they have come to an accommodation regarding the recent difficulties between the government and the newspaper.
For background, the Compass on June 3, 2015, published an editorial entitled “Corruption: An insidious, creeping crime.” Many Caymanians, including Mr. McLaughlin, took offense to the editorial, suggesting it accused “all Caymanians” of being corrupt.
On June 5, 2015, Mr. McLaughlin addressed the full house in the Legislative Assembly, condemning the editorial and labeling it a “treasonous act” of the newspaper. Subsequently, the House voted to withdraw all advertising from the Compass and other publications owned by the newspaper’s parent company, Pinnacle Media Ltd.
Facilitated by input from Governor Helen Kilpatrick and Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, both Mr. McLaughlin and Mr. Legge have met and, in fact, have reached agreement on important issues, including:
First, that Cayman must continue to adopt a “zero-tolerance” toward corruption, and that the newspaper plays an important role – often times through investigative reporting – in identifying and bringing to the attention of its readers corrupt activity wherever it exists.
Second, the importance of free speech and a free and responsible press in Cayman is sacrosanct. It is guaranteed by the 2009 Constitution and enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Indeed, the Government reaffirms its unconditional support for a free and responsible press consistent with the ideals of a democratic society.
Mr. Legge wanted to take this opportunity to share with the Cayman community that it was neither the intention, nor the precise language in the editorial, to claim that “all Caymanians” were corrupt.
Quite the contrary. Mr. Legge and his wife Vicki, who share the duties of co-publishers of the Cayman Compass, have resided in the Cayman Islands for more than 25 years. They themselves are Caymanian, having received the grant of Caymanian status in 2003.
The Legges said jointly, “The Cayman Islands have been our home for much of our lives, and the most wonderful years of our lives have been spent here. The issue has been raised as to whether we consider these islands ‘safe and secure.’ Of course we do. Cayman’s greatest asset (in addition to its natural beauty) is that it is one of the safest venues for residents and tourists alike.
“The more narrow point – but one that must be taken seriously – is that journalists throughout the world frequently receive threats – some more credible than others – and Cayman is not immune from these incidents. However, they do not reflect on the overall safety and tranquility of these islands nor on the character of its people.”
Mr. Legge added, “Certainly the language of the June 3 editorial could have been more sensitive and more precise. While the editorial never stated that ‘all Caymanians were corrupt’ – such a statement is statistically impossible and patently absurd – I have no reluctance to disassociate myself from either that thought or those words.”
Mr. McLaughlin agreed the time had come to “lower the temperature” and put this matter to rest. He acknowledged that he and Mr. Legge had met several times both before and after the publication of the June 3 editorial with the aim of establishing better communications and relations.
“Mr. Legge and I recognize that a free press and a duly elected government have very different – but very necessary – roles to play in a democratic society. Because of those differences, tensions are expected and may at times run high.
“Nevertheless, we have agreed to lessen those tensions to the degree possible through expanding our communications and holding periodic meetings.”
Regarding the cessation of Government advertising in the Cayman Compass, Mr. McLaughlin said, “Having consulted with the Attorney General as to the status of the resolution passed by the Legislative Assembly I am confident that the issue can be resolved without further recourse to the Legislative Assembly.
“For that reason, and our desire to move forward in a positive way, the resolution adopted by the House on June 8, 2015, which banned such advertising will be considered as no longer effective or applicable. Accordingly the Government confirms that after consultation with the Deputy Governor all Chief Officers have been advised that there should be an immediate and unconditional resumption of the commercial business relationships that existed with the Cayman Compass and its affiliates prior to June 8, 2015, including the resumption of advertising and other commercial activities with government ministries, portfolios, departments, statutory authorities and government owned companies.
“Both Mr. Legge and I wish to thank Governor Helen Kilpatrick and Deputy Governor Franz Manderson for their participation in bringing this matter to a satisfactory resolution.”