Bush responds to video release of Coral Beach incident

House Speaker McKeeva Bush responded to the release of the CCTV footage of the Coral Beach incident used in his conviction last year, saying “The people spoke and they’re seeing now.”

Bush issued the brief comment to Cayman Compass following the posting of the exclusive footage on Friday.

The Compass, in partnership with Nelsons law firm, obtained the footage used in the assault case against the House Speaker last year and released it in the public’s interest.

The CCTV footage shows Bush’s interaction with the female manager of the West Bay Road establishment.

The Compass reached out to Premier Wayne Panton following the release of the CCTV video, but he is yet to comment on the situation.

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Progressives and Opposition Leader Roy McTaggart issued a statement Saturday, saying the video reminds me why the Progressives refused to campaign or form a government with Mr Bush following the elections”.

“We could have come to an agreement with him and retained the Government but chose not to do so. That was not a serious option we could consider again after his admission of guilt and conviction by the Courts. Mr Bush’s sentence was suspended for two years until 2022.  We remain satisfied that we took the right decision,” he said.

McTaggart stated that this is not an issue the Opposition would use to gain “political advantage” and “categorically state that we were not aware that the Compass was publishing the video until after the fact”.

On a personal note, McTaggart said, “it is especially important that everyone, particularly our young people, understand that the type of behaviour displayed in the video is not acceptable and cannot be condoned. As a society, we have a lot of work to do to raise awareness of and eradicate violence and harassment towards women”.

Bush was convicted in December of assaulting the female manager at the bar after pleading guilty to two of the three charges laid against him. He was found guilty of the third.

Former Premier Alden McLaughlin was also contacted for comment on the video, as Bush was a part of his coalition government when the incident occurred.

McLaughlin said he was “the former Premier on whose watch the assault occurred and who consequently refused to go back into office with McKeeva Bush following the elections”.

He suggested, “I’m sure you intended to send them [messages] to the current Premier who with full knowledge of Mr. Bush’s guilty plea and subsequent conviction chose to go into government with him.”

How it all happened

Bush was arrested following the alcohol-fuelled altercation last February.

The West Bay West MP consistently maintained he was not the aggressor in the 21 Feb., 2020 incident at Coral Beach Bar.

In an interview with the Compass earlier this year, Bush said he “wished a thousand times I hadn’t let that woman get that close to me because of arguments over gratuities for the staff”.

Those comments contradicted his initial claims last year that he could not recall the incident after issuing a statement apologising.

Then Progressives leader Alden McLaughlin, after facing intense public pressure and a possible vote of no confidence against Bush from the Arden McLean-led Opposition, triggered early elections.

McLaughlin and his successor vowed not to engage with Bush, and maintained that position over the campaign trail and subsequent horse trading that ensued after the elections results were released.

The Progressives had retained their seats and one alliance member seat, but lost Prospect.

The country was then forced to wait for the lawmakers to form alliances to create a coalition government. In the intervening days, there was a lot back and forth between the competing alliances.

All the while the Progressives kept Bush out of their mix as they sought to establish links with other Independent members, including Panton.

Eventually Bush teamed up with Panton and independent legislators to form the PACT government.

Two MPs, Sabrina Turner and Isaac Rankine, had signed an agreement with the Progressives-Alliance, but backed out after a social media-led campaign was launched, pressuring them to re-sign with PACT.

They were originally named in the 10-member letter that Panton took to the Governor to show that he commanded the majority support to form the government and take premiership.

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