Cayman Islands Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush said late Friday that his arrest last week at a Florida casino was “wrongful,” but he apologized to the country for all the uproar it caused.
“I regret the attention and concern that my wrongful arrest has caused to all concerned overseas, my constituents and the great citizens of Cayman,” Mr. Bush said. “I am certain that once my attorney and the prosecutor have an opportunity to review the evidence, the only conclusion that will be reached is that I committed no crime.”
Mr. Bush returned to Cayman on Friday following his arrest Monday night at a Coconut Creek, Florida, casino on battery charges. Seminole Police alleged Mr. Bush wrapped his arm around a female employee at the casino, pulled her toward him and grabbed her buttocks.
Mr. Bush is now awaiting word on whether he will be formally charged with battery, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and US$1,000 fine on conviction.
His attorney filed a written “not guilty” plea with the Broward County court Wednesday, and Mr. Bush was released on US$1,000 cash bond.
“I expect to be completely exonerated in the near future,” Mr. Bush said.
Meanwhile on Friday, some dissension appeared in the ranks of Cayman Islands opposition members as dueling statements were made in the wake of Mr. Bush’s arrest.
On Friday afternoon, Cayman’s opposition members released a statement regarding the incident: “We are saddened to hear of the arrest of the Hon. Speaker and the international embarrassment this has caused the Cayman Islands. We, therefore, call on the government of national unity to take the necessary action to restore dignity, honor and prestige to the position of the Speaker.
“We the members of the opposition understand that it is also our duty to protect and uphold the dignity of, and respect for, our high offices and we therefore feel compelled to recommend this course of action to the government.”
It was not clear precisely what “course of action” opposition members had recommended, but George Town Central MLA Kenneth Bryan said Friday that he had not supported, as a member of the opposition, any call for Mr. Bush to step down as Speaker, though he said some other opposition members had done so.
Mr. Bryan said Mr. Bush, who was not formally charged with any offenses in Florida as of Friday, had the same presumption of innocence afforded to a defendant in any court case.
The George Town MLA said he was also concerned about the “instability removing Mr. Bush would possibly create” in the fledgling national unity government, which was formed in late May after a week of intense bargaining.
Mr. Bryan said he presumed that if Mr. Bush were to be removed as Speaker, the veteran West Bay MLA and his two Cayman Democratic Party colleagues from West Bay, MLAs Bernie Bush and Capt. Eugene Ebanks, would depart the government benches.
That means Premier Alden McLaughlin’s coalition government would be left with just 10 members, the slimmest possible majority in the 19-member Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly. At best, the government’s grip on power would be tenuous and dependent on the cooperation of three independent MLAs to prop up Mr. McLaughlin’s Progressives Party.
Mr. Bryan said he did not like that equation since it would weaken the current ruling coalition, but would not put a nine-member opposition in control of government.
“The uncertainty caused by that would impact business, investment, confidence in the Cayman Islands and everything else,” Mr. Bryan said.
The opposition statement released Friday sought to put the onus for a decision on whether Mr. Bush should remain as Speaker of the House on Premier Alden McLaughlin, who spent the last 15 years as Mr. Bush’s political archenemy in parliament.
Mr. McLaughlin has remained silent on the matter. His office said the premier would not be commenting on Mr. Bush’s arrest.