Lawmaker reveals origins of MLA ‘following’ claim

Further allegations were made Thursday regarding local law firms hiring a private company to follow two Cayman Islands legislators.

The accusations, first made in a Feb. 27 press conference, were investigated by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, which said it could not substantiate the claims.

Bodden MLA Alva Suckoo said Thursday that the allegations initially resulted from a text message received by one of the Legislative Assembly’s independent members. The text was received by the unidentified MLA shortly after East End MLA Arden McLean filed a motion asking Cayman government authorities to investigate potential breaches of the Penal Code and the Immigration Law by unspecified local law firms and Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton.

Both Mr. Panton and the Cayman Islands Law Society have denied any wrongdoing.

According to the text message, read by Mr. Suckoo in the assembly Thursday afternoon, “[A] consultancy employed by blank and blank [according to the Mr. Suckoo, the two ‘blanks’ referred to two local law firms]. They are declaring all out war on [George Town MLA] Winston [Connolly] and Arden [McLean]. No limit on money or method to get them out. They hired some people to follow them and dig up dirt yesterday. Please advise them pronto, they are going to need help.”

Mr. Suckoo said the message was sent by a lawyer, whom he did not name. That individual, he said, was interviewed by police.

During the police interview, Mr. Suckoo said, the lawyer indicated they had received the information from another source, but declined to identify that source to police.

The issue arose during Mr. Suckoo’s debate of the controversial Legal Practitioners Bill, which is still being considered by assembly members.

“We know what is at stake here,” Mr. Suckoo said. “We know that this path we have chosen has created us a large number of enemies and there are individuals who will stop at nothing to stop us.”

Just before Mr. Suckoo began his debate, Mr. McLean asked Speaker of the House Juliana O’Connor-Connolly to identify a man who was “walking around” in the upstairs public gallery of the Legislative Assembly. Mr. McLean complained that the man – who was not known to frequent attendees at assembly meetings – was pacing about during members’ debates when he should have remained seated.

Ms. O’Connor-Connolly said she would have assembly Serjeant-at-Arms Kim Evans look into the matter and nothing further was said about it.

Mr. Suckoo then stood up to begin, remarking, “Maybe this is a good place to start this debate.”

Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush replied: “Where, that you’re afraid of duppies [Caribbean term for ghosts]?”

The RCIPS released a brief statement last week indicating it had responded to safety complaints made by the MLAs over the issue.

“We have jointly investigated these complaints with immigration, and have not been able to substantiate that any such surveillance has taken place,” RCIPS said in response to queries from the Cayman Compass.

“The complainants have been fully cooperative with our investigation and have been informed of these findings. Should any further concerns be brought to our attention on this matter, they will be duly investigated.”

Mr. Suckoo said the independent members still suspect some wrongdoing in connection with the text message report.

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