We all knew the details of Speaker McKeeva Bush’s drunken assault on a woman prior to the Cayman Compass’ publication on 18 June of the CCTV footage from the incident.

A vast majority of us, however, had never seen the footage presented as evidence in the trial, which was played in court proceedings open to the public.

We believe – as any ethically sound news outlet should believe – people have a right to know, with as much clarity as possible, exactly what took place at Coral Beach in February of 2020 concerning an official in elected office. It’s our duty as journalists to provide this information and let members of the public form an opinion for themselves.

In order for justice to be done – and be seen to be done – the public and the media are granted access to legal proceedings. This is one of the fundamental tenets of journalism: The public has a right to access information. So the Compass, in partnership with Nelsons law firm, reached out to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to inquire about the possibility of obtaining the video.

Everyone in Cayman, it seems, has formed an opinion about the incident, based on the video.

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That’s why we see the release of the footage as a success.

For some, seeing for themselves the events that took place that night changed their opinion about the incident and, possibly, Bush himself. For others, the video further confirmed the opinions they previously held.

That’s exactly what we sought to achieve – to provide the information and let you decide for yourself.

It is not for news organisations like the Compass to seek to dictate opinion about the content of the video or make judgements about the verdict of a trial. It is, however, beholden on a journalist to provide the public with accurate information, from which they are free to draw their own conclusions.

With sensitive material and per due process, conditions from the ODPP were attached to the release of the footage prior to it being provided, notably obtaining the consent of the victim in the incident.

The Compass took steps to provide all the relevant elements of the video in its coverage, so members of the public have the full picture of facts.

The public interest in publishing material used in the conviction of an elected official for assault is undeniable and we made the video available on our website as soon as it was released to us – literally the same day.

Whether seeing the footage makes viewers more or less sympathetic to Bush or his victim is not something we wish to influence.

We believe the release of the video gives everyone in Cayman a clearer picture of what happened and better evidence to draw their own conclusions.

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