Premier to meet Bush over assault allegations

Opposition: Government needs to decide on Bush's fate

Premier Alden McLaughlin

Premier Alden McLaughlin is set to meet with House Speaker McKeeva Bush regarding  allegations that he assaulted the female manager of a local bar.

The premier, in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon – four days after the alleged incident came to light – said Bush will arrive in London on Wednesday.

Bush, who is deputy chair of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Small Branches Executive Council, told the Cayman Compass Wednesday he was scheduled to be in London for a previously arranged CPA meeting.

McLaughlin, in his statement said, “I will be sitting down with him [Bush] to discuss his statement and the efforts to deal with his problems and to talk about the actions that need to be taken as a consequence of the incident itself.”

McLaughlin is currently in London for discussions on the European Union’s blacklist as well as trade matters.

Addressing the alleged incident, the premier expressed “deep regret and that of the Government at this most unfortunate incident and to extend our support to the lady that has suffered injury and distress as a result”. 

“She deserves our support. I want her to know that everyone in the Government wishes her a speedy recovery,” McLaughlin added.

On Monday, Bush issued a statement on the incident saying he did not recall it, but was told he “reacted badly” when he was being assisted to his feet after passing out and falling down at Coral Beach on West Bay Road on Friday night.

He said he has been dealing with the grief of losing his daughter who passed away at the end of January 2011. He pledged to get professional help and to stop drinking alcohol.

McLaughlin, commenting on the speaker’s admission of his struggles said, “I appreciate the candour of the Speaker’s statement and his recognition that he has problems with which he needs to deal.”

“Therefore, the most important immediate issue is for the Speaker to seek the treatment that he references in his statement. I and all in my Government will do all we can to help in his efforts to access appropriate professional help at this time,” he added.

The premier said he recognises that the alleged incident that occurred over the weekend will have consequences.

“The police investigation is under way and I have confidence in them to carry that out thoroughly and effectively,” he said.

Following the Premier’s announcement of his planned meeting with Bush in London social media commenters questioned why the Speaker was heading to the UK to have this matter addressed.

But Bush clarified Wednesday that he was going to London anyway to attend the CPA meeting.

“I will report on it [the CPA] meeting later,” Bush told the Cayman Compass.

Opposition: Gov’t needs to decide on Bush’s future in the LA

The Opposition has called on government to make a decision on House Speaker McKeeva Bush if he does not voluntarily step aside from his post.

Leader of the Opposition Arden McLean contacted Premier Alden McLaughlin Monday to discuss the issue and the way forward, according to a statement released Tuesday, four days after an alleged assault involving Bush.

Bush in a statement Monday said he didn’t remember the incident.

The Opposition statement said the premier confirmed that he is in discussions with his caucus.

“In the absence of him [Bush] voluntarily choosing to stand aside to seek the professional help he clearly needs, a decision must now be taken by the Unity Government of which he is a member,” the statement said.

Bush’s statement “substantiates the rumours about his actions on 21st February 2020”, according to the Opposition.

“The seriousness of this incident means it may very well progress into a criminal matter and the public must be cognisant that the vast majority of registered voters are potential jurors. In addition, there are disciplinary procedures within the Legislative Assembly that may be employed,” the statement said.

“However, in the interest of fairness and natural justice, our actions as legislators must not be seen to impede, prejudice or influence a criminal investigation that may result in a matter before the courts,” it added.

The Opposition said it noted Bush’s apology for his actions, but said, “it is clear that he is not dealing with the challenges of his grief and use of alcohol.

“However, what Mr. Bush fails to note in his public statement, is the very privileged and public role that he occupies as Speaker of the House. Whilst this matter remains under criminal investigation, this incident leaves a very public stain on our Legislative Assembly,” the statement said.

Pointing to the public outcry, the Opposition said, “the court of public opinion recognises the seriousness of his actions, especially, as it resulted in a woman being injured, in the line of work”, adding that the hashtag #sheisupported, which has been trending since the incident, “attests to this.

Roper weighs in

Meanwhile, Governor Martyn Roper has expressed concern over the allegations.

Roper, in a brief statement to the Cayman Compass Tuesday, said, “I am greatly concerned by any allegations of assault, especially when these relate to violence against women.”

However, he stopped short of commenting further on the matter saying it is now under police investigation.

“I have every confidence that they will deal with it in accordance with the law, which applies to everyone equally. It would not be appropriate for me to comment further until this process is complete,” Roper said.

North Side MLA Ezzard Miller also issued a statement on Tuesday, which called for Bush’s resignation or removal.

Although the police have not formally named Bush in its investigation, the House Speaker issued a statement Monday on the alleged incident, which happened Friday night at Coral Beach on West Bay Road.

It involved the female manager at the bar.

Police, in their statement on the incident over the weekend, only said a “public figure in the Cayman Islands” was the suspect in the matter.

On Monday they said that a team, consisting of a superintendent and detectives within the Criminal Investigations Department, is investigating the alleged assault.

They also appealed for witnesses to come forward and assist with the active investigation.

While Bush apologised, in a statement released Monday, he said he could not recall what happened and was told that he “reacted badly” when he was being helped to his feet after he passed out and fell at the West Bay Road bar.

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