View from the southeast corner

| 14/12/2010

The article written by Brent Fuller and published in The Compass on Wednesday, 8th December 2010, under the headline “Closed-door FOI review set” and further subtitled “FOI Commissioner wants key role” in my view carried several inaccurate statements and was written in a style that would lead readers to believe something sinister was being done.

Let me deal with each inaccurate statement in turn.

1. In the first line of the article the author make the statement: “It appears the legal review of Cayman’s first Freedom of Information Law will not be done before the eyes of the public."

The author of this article was present in the press box when the premier moved the motion several months ago, in public, to establish this committee of the whole House with Madam Speaker as chairman, in accordance with the FOI law. The FOI law states in Section 58 (1): "This Law shall be reviewed from time to time by a committee of the Legislative Assembly appointed for that purpose," and in subsection (2): "The first such review shall be conducted not later than eighteen months after the appointed day."

The Legislative Assembly Standing Orders (2006 revision) lays down specific rules in sections 70,71,72, 73 & 74 that all select committees are expected to follow, and section 73 subsection (4) says: “The proceedings of and the evidence taken before any select committee and any documents presented thereto, and decisions of such a committee shall not be published by any Member thereof or by any other person until after the Committee has presented its report to the House."

In my view this statement is a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth and is an offence under section 18 (2) a. of the Immunities, Powers and Privileges law (IPP).

2.The author continues: “A six-member Legislative Assembly subcommittee is scheduled to begin meeting ‘in camera’ — privately — this month to review Cayman’s Freedom of Information law."

This statement is also inaccurate as it is not meeting in camera (privately). This subcommittee is bound to conduct its affairs in accordance with Standing Orders.

In my view this statement is also a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth because the truth is known to the author, and the statements is an offence under section 18 (2) a. of the Immunities, Powers and Privileges Law.

3.The editorial goes even further, when in the first paragraph it reads: “We suppose someone in the ‘secret’ subcommittee that we guess is going to be deciding the fate of Cayman’s Freedom of Information law will say something like this over the coming weeks …”

In my view this is also a deliberate misstatement of fact as no subcommittee nor select committee can make any decisions as to the fate of the FOI law. All either committee can do is make recommendations in a report that will be tabled and therefore made public. The only body that can make any changes to the existing FOI law is the Legislative Assembly, either by government presenting an amending bill of a private bill or by a non-government bill, both of which is done in public with the press present.

In my view, this is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts that should be known to the newspaper and is an offence against the IPP law.

4.The editorial goes on to say in paragraph three: “in attempts to head off this foolishness — since we haven’t been invited to participate in any hearings of this secret body …”

This in my view is also is an offence under section 18 (2) c. as I believe it touches the conduct of members when they are accused of doing foolishness.

5.The worst statement in the editorial reads: “ It is in fact the direct opposite of what is supposed to occur under the FOI law."

The deliberate accusation that the subcommittee and the select committee is in contravention of the FOI law is untrue and the Legislative Assembly acted in full compliance of the FOI law in establishing the select committee, and the select committee acted within its remit to establish the subcommittee. In my view this is also a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts and that the truth was known to the author, and that it is an offense under section 18 (2) a of the IPP law.

Now having read the article and the editorial and being contacted by several friendly and not so friendly supporters accusing me of being a part of tampering with the FOI law in secret, I had three choices an a member of the Legislative Assembly: ignore the article and editorial and do nothing, use the privilege provided me by the IPP law to attack and castigate the author and The Compass, or use the process provided me as a member under the IPP law to have the Attorney General decide if the parties should be prosecuted before a court of law and let the Court decide if guilty and what punishment should be handed down.

Far too often in this country of late we are content in our accommodating culture to let our institutions be attacked and degraded with no response. The fact that we tolerate and often acquire to the statement that Caymanians are lazy, can’t learn, and the high level of crime that is tolerated because we stand by and ignore the perpetrators and refuse to report them to the police and other authorities. I believe it is time to act and stop ignoring the obvious.

The second choice is not part of my modus operandi as a politician, so it was not open to me. I sit in my southeast corner of the Legislative Assembly with disgust as members, institutions like the press and members of the public are attacked with immunity. I find it almost laudable that the darlings of the press and media are the four members who voted against the motion, several of whom had the most critical and uncomplimentary things to say about the paper and the author. I did not criticize or castigate either The Compass or the author of the article; I simply gave the reasons for bringing the motion and asked the Legislative Assembly to take certain actions.

I chose the third option open to me to begin to defend our institutions and re-establish certain standards. I chose to move a motion of Privilege and ask the Attorney General to prosecute the reporter and The Compass under the provisions of section 18 and 19 of the IPP law and for Madam Speaker to cancel the press privilege of the author immediately.

This is what I do whenever I believe a citizen or resident has broken any of Cayman’s Laws: I report them to the relevant authorities and asked that they be prosecuted under the relevant or appropriate law. Normally such reports and request are done through the police. This option was not open to me in the Legislative Assembly so I made the request directly to the Attorney General.

Had I not done my duty, because in my view these infractions of the law were committed by the press, I would have no moral authority to tell any constituent member not to steal, exceed the speed limit or smoke ganja, for that matter.

The process which will follows is the normal one. The Attorney General will decide if there is a case to answer and, if there is, proceed to a court of law for the court to decide if they are guilty and to hand down the appropriate sentence, as provided for in the IPP law. Neither the Legislative Assembly nor I can decide, nor can the Legislative Assembly instruct the Attorney General who to prosecute.

On a further point, there are those who say that the select committee could decide to hold its deliberations in public by suspending Standing Orders. This is not so. A select committee cannot suspend any Standing Orders; only the Legislative Assembly when sitting can suspend Standing Orders by majority vote.

Oh, by the way, if the editor wants to contribute or be a part of the review, all they have to do is make a written submission and/or request an audience with the subcommittee to discuss their issues with the law and they will be treated in accordance with Standing Orders.

I fully understand in our democracy the pen is mightier than the sword and that it was not “good politics” to bring this motion, as is evidenced by the blogs and the more recent publications in the media. However, I am not one who is easily intimidated by the media, although in my thirty years around politics in Cayman I have endured my share of threats and ridicule by the media.

In my view, this is about a principle of respect for the workings of our Legislative Assembly and the members elected to that high office. The people have chosen the fifteen members in a proper electoral process to represent them and have the trust and belief that they will do what is best for Cayman and its people and any article written with such a slant that in my view appears to erode that trust or question the motives based on inaccurate statements should be challenged within the rules using due process of law.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It would now be nice to close this Post as we expected Ezzard would be I was just doing my job( or doing what I thought was right) as a real waste of space.It was interesting while it lasted how quick someone of our elected legislator can go from should be our nexy leader to: Are you serious you @#$%? It might not be a bad idea to put our Premier’s article in it’s place to make room for the next crime committed while our leaders are still in denial for us to pull our hair out one more time.

  2. Civil Dialogue says:

    Some of us simply cannot be pleased. Caymanians and guests, are we becoming complacent and naive with regards to legislated provisions which intends to protect society? I have the utmost respect for our laws and believe that they should be upheld when broken; to suggest that we should focus on a particular crime and not all is simply irresponsible. I agree that certain areas of crime needs more attention as failing to do so will further demise the tranquility of our society. All crimes should be dealt with effectively.

  3. David R. Legge says:

    Cayman’s remarkable success in the last half-century has been built on a foundation of shared values with other developed countries, most notably the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and states in Western Europe.

    These nations share a mutual belief in such pillars of democracy as a fair and just judiciary with multiple levels of appeal, freedom of worship, freedom of speech, and an unfettered free press (limited, of course, by such sanctions which govern libel, slander, and defamation).

    It is precisely this “comfort level” among like-minded nations that has enabled the growth of Cayman’s financial services industry and our tourism sector. Businesses and tourists alike trust the Cayman Islands and view us generally as a safe and secure destination, a free and open society—which we are.

    That is why I believe the action of the recent 9-4 vote of the Legislative Assembly to ask the Attorney General to decide whether to prosecute Brent Fuller and his newspaper, The Caymanian Compass, was an aberration, born out of frustration and emotion, rather than reason. (It is notable that leaders Premier McKeeva Bush [UDP] and former Minister Alden McLaughlin [PPM], in a rare display of bipartisanship, each voted against the motion.)

    I would wager that if the vote were to be reconsidered after this interim cooling off period, a more likely outcome would be 14-1—against. The one vote in favor would most likely be cast by MLA Ezzard Miller, who instigated the original measure.

    To respond directly to one poster (albeit an anonymous one), the fact that the reporter at issue is an American is, and ought to be, central to this discussion. The mere threat to jail any journalist—but especially an American journalist—has the potential to do catastrophic harm to these islands since it is antithetical to our so-called fundamental "shared values."

    I’ll be more blunt: Americans don’t like the potential jailing of their journalists, in their own country or, even more so, in a foreign country. U.S. media rally around such issues. No respected democratic country will support the Cayman Islands on this issue. It is a lightning rod, and, unless unchecked, I can assure you, the storm is on its way. I know the U.S. media.

    I’ll close with the following caution: If the Attorney General moves to prosecute Mr. Fuller and The Compass, Cayman News Service will not be far behind. On any given day, CNS publishes language far more critical of Cayman’s elected members and “institutions” than The Compass ever has. (For reference, re-read some of the postings on Premier McKeeva Bush).

    Members who voted for Mr. Miller’s motion have placed these islands on a very slippery slope (to mix metaphors, who would have thought that “thin ice” was a possibility in a tropical Caribbean country?), and Cayman’s elected members would be well-advised to reconsider their actions and undo what they precipitously, and foolishly, did.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Give your apporoach apparently our "shared values" amount to intimidation to get one’s way. The best way to demonstrate that democracy, fundamental freedoms and due process are in working order in the Cayman Islands is not by attempting to intimidate the Legislative Assembly into rescinding its motion but by letting the process play itself out. That is why there are checks upon the execise of power by one branch of govt. Fundamentally, what you are saying is that you do not trust or respect our institutions and process to yield the right result. You keep mentioning the oncoming onslaught by the U.S. media. Given your close connections with the same I am inferring that you are in the process of instigating that and that is what you are implicitly threatening in your posts.      

      • David R. Legge says:

        First, I have not contacted any U.S. media on this issue. Nevertheless, if our legislators are proud if their vote, why would they want to keep it "quiet"?

        It is naive to think that this issue can be contained to the Cayman Islands. It’s all over The Compass, Cayman News Service, television, and radio. Just Google "Brent Fuller" and you’ll see it’s already spread offshore. Were you aware that Cayman News Service has an enormous overseas audience, including (I know for a fact) a number of editors at major news organizations?

        Finally, you give me far too much credit by suggesting I’m capable of intimidating the Legislative Assembly. I would, however, ask that body to reflect upon its vote and, in its collective wisdom, reverse it.

        • Anonymous says:

          This is not an isolated incident.  The Government has sought to silence its critics in the media by a concerted campaign of intimidation.  Maybe you should look at some of the Premier’s comments about the media over the last 12 months.  There is a story there.  It might sound like hot air to someone in the real world, but in a place as small as Cayman where government patronage is integral to winning contracts and keeping employees it is very effective hot air.  

          In Cayman the only reference to "checks and balances" is in the sentence which ends "there are not any".

      • O'Really says:

        "Fundamentally, what you are saying is that you do not trust or respect our institutions and process to yield the right result"

        How does one trust or respect a process that starts out flawed? Millers own defence here states: " I chose to move a motion of Privilege and ask the Attorney General to prosecute the reporter and The Compass under the provisions of section 18 and 19 of the IPP law. " 

        Had Miller’s motion required the AG to review the reporter’s article in light of the provisions of the IPP and to decide if there were grounds for prosecution, that would be one thing. But he and those who supported him passed a motion which has, in asking the AG to prosecute, an inbuilt assumption of guilt ( I cannot be absolutely sure as I have not been able to find an actual copy of the resolution, but I assume Miller knows what he moved).

        You seem to be keen on form, so does this seem like good form to you? As for the " right result ", to me this is the AG refusing to act, but then the capabilities of our MLA’s who voted for this are called into question ( again!), their lack of respect for the concept of innocent until proven guilty put on show ( again!) and their desire to put the press in its place when unsupported in law paraded for all the world to see.

        Alternatively maybe the AG decides to prosecute. Whatever the ultimate outcome of such an action, there is only one loser and that is Cayman. There I was thinking the function of the LA was to protect and serve the people of the Cayman Islands, not let their egos get the better of them, but as I think about what I have just written, I realise I am, as many have suggested, a complete idiot.

         

        • Anonymous says:

          "How does one trust or respect a process that starts out flawed?"

          The whole point (which you continue to miss) is that the process itself will sort out any flaws. The first step in that process is for the AG to decide whether the elements of the offence have been made out, and if so whether it is in the public interest to prosecute. It may well not proceed beyond that point  but if it does then it will be a matter for the courts to decide whether accused has been proven guilty. The decision of the court at first instance will be subject to appeals and so on. Apparently you have taken on the role of both the AG and the courts and have already decided the matter (athough you are  ill-equipped to do so) and so you see the performance of these important functions as mere "form". 

          When a complainant asks the prosecuting authorities, be it the police or the AG, to press charges against an accused it is a little silly to suggest that this shows that the complainant has no respect for the presumption of innocence. Second, I do not think there is any dispute about the facts, but rather about the proper interpretation of the facts and the application of the law to those facts.

           

              

          • O'Really says:

            How I can " continue to miss " the point when this is only my second post on this thread and the first dealt with a different aspect of the issue, is difficult to understand, but I’m sure that you will explain it in your usual tedious and pedantic style.

            Given that my penultimate and ultimate paragraphs touched on the two broad options of the AG either burying or pursuing prosecution, it’s hard to see how you conclude I have " already decided the matter…" but this is indicative of the clarity of thought you bring to the discussion.

            You hide behind the process, much as Ezzard did in his defence, while ignoring the wider issue of ramifications in the real world. As your process, which almost certainly should never have been started, unwinds, the loser, in some shape or form, will be Cayman. You need not care about this, but Ezzard is paid to care. 

            • Anonymous says:

              You "continue" to miss the point because your argument has already been addressed not only by me but by other posters as well.

              Since all of your contributions on this subject have essentally been in defence of Mr. Fuller and the Compass (while I have taken a more neutral stance) it isn’t difficult to conclude that you have already decided the matter. Also, to conclude that the outcome, no matter what, will be damaging to Cayman, is to indicate that you have already decided the rights and wrongs of the matter.  

              Re "clarity of thinking". What’s this, the best defence is a strong offence?   I have shown how you are seriously lacking in that department, particularly with regards to the silly comment about presumption of innocence.          

               

              • O'Really says:

                I’ll be impressed if you can find a comment in my posts on this thread that defends Mr.Fuller.

                Clearly in your mind my belief that Mr. Miller was wrong to promote a motion for the AG to prosecute Mr. Fuller and the Compass, as opposed to Mr. Miller requesting the AG to review the article and IPP to determine if an offence had been committed and act accordingly ( or even just leaving matters in the hands of the Speaker), is the same as defending Mr. Fuller. And you take offence when I suggest the clarity of your thinking could be improved? Nice one.

              • I'll be Frank says:

                I think everyone is missing the point another key point.

                It should go without saying that everyone should obey the laws of the land, even American journalists. However, is the law of the land that would be evoked to prosecute Mr. Fuller being enforced uniformly? Hardly.

                In fact, how many times has the "Powers, Privileges and Immunities" law ever been enforced?  I can’t think of a single time.

                Now how many times has the integrity of an MLA been questioned in print or on talk radio, or even on this website where the Premier is routinely called a dictator?  The answer is all the time.

                This little show of power by the Speaker and Ezzard Miller was deliberately focused on Brent Fuller, a foreign journalist.  I’m sure the MLAs don’t like the fact that a foreign journalist  (and a newspaper teaming with foreign journalists) wrote a story and editorial that reflected on them badly. The Speaker’s admonishment and Miller’s motion were meant to muzzle a bothersome press and to put foreign journalists in their place so they’d show proper respect and just write nice things about them. This was mere bravado from Miller, the man who would be king.

                Sadly, all of this makes you wonder if Mr. Fuller will get his work permit renewed.  I really don’t know how a foreign journalist can do his or her job here now.

                I don’t know if Mr. Legge was so far off in his post. If Cayman were to go ahead with the prosecution of Mr. Fuller, it could be seen that he was being prosecuted because he was a foreigner, who just happened to be American.  I don’t think the US State Department would just sit back and let that happen, especially it could be demonstrated that he’s being prosecuted for something that happens here all the time.  This charge is pure sham and I don’t think the legislators actually think it will be pursued.

                All that said, Sam Bulgin isn’t stupid.  He’s not going to proceed with this kind of action, one which would undoubtedly make big news all over the world. I can see the headline now: "American journalist faces a year in prison for being disrespectful to politicians".  That’s just the kind of message you want to send out to the world (not to mention US tourists). But even if Bulgin decided to go forward, the Governor would probably step in and stop it.

                But, as another has said in a previous post, the verdict is already in even without hearing from Mr. Bulgin. The Speaker, the nine MLAs (particularly Miller) got flogged by the whip of public opinion and if they were smart, they’d go lick their wounds in a dark corner for the rest of the year and think very carefully before ever pursuing a similar course of action again.

                • nauticalone says:

                  Vey well said!

                  And at the end of the day all this Political Posturing will result in waste (or worse, increased internatioal damage/fallout) exactly when we can least afford it.

                   

                   

          • Anonymous says:

            Referencing the recent news that the AG has decided not to prosecute, it establishes my point that the process would sort out any flaws. However, it would be helpful if the AG would say whether he found that the elements of the offence were not made out or whether he simply decided that prosecution was not in the public interest.

            Hopefully, CNS will not censor this post as it did my last (and yes I am familiar with the comments policy and there was nothing that ought to have been found objectionable except perhaps my particular views on the subject).      

             

            • O'Really says:

              With respect, given that the process to which you continually refer covers every conceivable outcome, claiming it proves your point is moot. How could it not?

              The real point is that not that the process is self-correcting, but that it should never have been put in play by Mr. Miller in the first place. Even if the AG were to clarify why he took the decision, it would make no difference. Either Mr. Miller misunderstands the law ( and his subsequent explanation that he has asked the AG many times to prosecute and failed suggests this is so ) or, while there may have been a case to answer, it was not in the public interest, something which should be uppermost in an MLA’s mind.

              Using the floor of any democratically elected body to press for the prosecution of the press is a big deal, as I suspect Mr. Miller now recognises and is not something to be undertaken lightly.This fact is now out there and available to be dragged up whenever one of Cayman’s competitors or critics takes an adversarial position. This is not good for Cayman. To have one of its senior members to go out of his way to demonstrate his ineptitude and to be joined by 8 other members is not good for the reputation of the LA or the public’s confidence in their elected officials.

              And this was the best case outcome!

               

              • Anonymous says:

                "The real point is that not that the process is self-correcting, but that it should never have been put in play by Mr. Miller in the first place. Even if the AG were to clarify why he took the decision, it would make no difference".

                You are all over the place. First, you say we can’t trust the process because it started out flawed and now you say that the point is not that the process works. You claim that you had not already decided the matter but now you say that the process should never have been put in play in the first instance, i.e  you had pre-determined the issue (even without the AG’s reasons). 

                His reasons of course make a tremendous difference. If the reason was that there was no offence in this particular case because there was some missing element then it does not exclude the possibility of such prosecutions in the future. If he has determined that LA Powers Immunities and Privileges Law runs counter to the Bill of Rights and the ECHR, or that it is not in the public interest to pursue such actions against journalists then that is an entirely different matter and the motion may have unintentionally changed forever the nature of Cayman’s media coverage. For example, the tone of CNS’s viewpoint article is a deliberate poke in the eye of the legislators.       

                • O'Really says:

                  I see you are still wearing your legal blinders when the issue we have in front of us goes way beyond the legal process.

                  The damage done to the reputation of Miller, the Speaker, those who voted in favour of the motion, the LA generally and Cayman’s reputation in the eyes of a global community ( which is fundamental to Cayman’s continuing economic prosperity ) cannot be put right by your process, no matter how much you believe it is flawless. Any kudos derived from the process working ( something which we do not know but I will concede for the purposes of keeping this post short ) cannot compensate for the negative sentiments generated both within Cayman and externally. That this is beyond doubt is evidenced by the open letter condemning Mary Lawrence and the LA for breaching our own Constitution. Whether the assertions of the Centre for Law and Democracy are correct is irrelevant; their mere involvement means the damage is already done, as it was the moment our MLA’s voted in favour of seeking prosecution. 

                  You are entitled to believe that adherence to process trumps real world consequences in this case but I doubt you have many supporters. It’s Christmas, so in the spirit of the season I say Peace!

                   

                   

                   

                   

                  • Anonymous says:

                    We do not actually disagree that some damage was done by the motion. It was rash. People are people and will make errors in judgement from time to time. You cannot undo what has been done, not even by rescinding the motion. My real concern is how best it should be resolved. I don’t think it should be resolved by intimidation whether it is by the threats or pressure by foreign media, the U.S. State Dept. or meddling letters from an assorted bunch of "international" human rights activists. We have a process. Part of that process is for the Human Rights Commission to examine the Law and the L.A. Standing Orders and opine whether there is any incompatibility with the Bill of Rights and the ECHR.    

                    Peace indeed!  

      • Anonymous says:

        "Fundamentally, what you are saying is that you do not trust or respect our institutions and process to yield the right result".

        Do you trust or respect our institutions and process to yield the right result?Does anyone?

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, of course I do. If you, Mr. Fuller, and Mr. Legge don’t then it tends to support Mr. Miller’s point that this issue is really about a lack of respect for our institutions. 

  4. Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause says:

    Enough said, the yeas got it. Get back to work in January 2011 and eackle the HIGH CRIME subject and please stop the weekly interviews on ROOSTER to make you look innocent, you are I believe another wolf in sheeps clothing. Merry Christmas and TRY and have a Happy New Year! God Bless us all we’ll need it… Oh and your Excellency Mr.Governor careful not to get a Sunburn and a couple ofwise words coming from you, would not hurt at this TIME.

  5. David R. Legge says:

    Let me be crystal clear—in fact, as clear as the turquoise waters of Cayman’s Caribbean Sea:

    What our elected members have done, in one vote initiated by the member from North Side, Mr. Ezzard Miller, is the following:

    First, they have formally moved toward criminal prosecution and possible imprisonment of an American citizen, journalist Brent Fuller.

    Mr. Fuller wrote a story, published in December 8 edition of The Caymanian Compass, that by any journalistic standard was neither libelous nor defamatory. It was also materially and factually correct.

    On behalf of Mr. Fuller, this situation demands the immediate attention of the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C., which is charged with looking after the well-being U.S. nationals living, working, or traveling in foreign countries. As long as this issue lingers, Mr. Fuller is at risk.

    Second, this 9-4 vote of the Legislative Assembly to proceed toward prosecution of both Mr. Fuller and his newspaper, the venerable Caymanian Compass, places the Cayman Islands squarely in the company of oppressive countries that historically have prosecuted and imprisoned writers and journalists who dare to criticize their regimes or institutions.

    The most obvious countries—all of them Communist—include China, Cuba, and the former Soviet Union. This is not the kind of company that Cayman should be keeping.

    To allay the damage that this vote is bringing to the Cayman Islands and, by proxy, the United Kingdom, His Excellency The Governor, Mr. Duncan Taylor, who is charged with ensuring the good governance of these islands, should intervene IMMEDIATELY, using his “reserve powers,” if necessary. In this instance, silence is tantamount to sanction.

    For perspective, it is inconceivable that the Parliament in England or the U.S. Congress in America would ever vote to move toward prosecution of an American journalist and their countries’ leading newspapers in these circumstances.

    For the record, the Premier of the Cayman Islands, the Hon. McKeeva Bush—an oft-times critic of local media—had the wisdom and foresight to vote against Mr. Miller’s motion, as did three of his colleagues.

    The Honorable House, which is now in recess until after the New Year, would be well advised to call itself back into special session to repair, to the degree possible, the damage it has imposed on these islands.

    Unfortunately, a decision by the Honorable Attorney General, Mr. Sam Bulgin, not to proceed with prosecution will not be sufficient, since the collective will of the House has already been expressed in its vote. Members must now move to limit the fallout from their regrettable actions.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      The US State Department. Reserve Powers. Now you are completely ‘over the top’. Calm down and get a grip. Because you are an American citizen does not mean you are above the law of any foreign land. 

      It seems that unwittingly you have exposed the root of the problem here – a sense of superiority over not only our local institutions but also our local laws.    

      • David R. Legge says:

        My submission has nothing to do with a sense of superiority over anyone or anything. That’s too simplistic and, frankly, too trite. This has to do with universally recognized rights of free speech and a free unintimidated press.

        Threatening an American journalist with prosecution and possible incarceration for writing a truthful story, in my view, is a most dangerous path for any country—the United States, Great Britain, or, yes, the Cayman Islands—to go down.

        • Anonymous says:

          Your whole posts smacks of a sense of superiority. Clearly your purpose is try to intimidate the legislative assembly because Mr. Fuller is not just any journalist is an AMERICAN journalist and we know what the big and powerful United States can do to us.  

          As you know perfectly well Mr. Fuller has not been threatened with prosecution for writing a truthful story (that is too simplistic and trite) but rather that his articles may potentially run afoul of the Legislative Assembly (Powers, Privileges and Immunities) Law.  The Attorney General is reviewing whether the contentions have merit and whether it is in the public interest to prosecute. If you are correct that there is no case to answer then you have nothing to worry about. Let the process determine the matter. What we do not need at this point is more charged emotions, inflammatory rhetoric and hype. That can only worsen the situation.           

    • Anonymous says:

      Just what we need – more hysteria. Why is everyone who becomes involved in this whole saga acting as if they are crazy?! This is now even more extreme than the motion itself.  

    • Anonymous says:

      I completely agree with David Legge that these is a huge issue here and Ezzard has moved the country backward with this motion. It is ironic that this has happened after the new constitution is in place.

      The heavy handedness of Ezzard and the others who supported him was an attempt to intimidate the press and to do it under the guise of protecting the reputation of the LA. What nonsense.

      The fact that the majority of people here still need the shelter of anonymous contributions because of the reality of retribution is a thorn in the side of the egos in power in the country.

      Ezzard is not a young turk rather he is an old hand who has the view that it is his way or the highway. Sorry Ezzard this is a democracy and there is freedom of speech and thought here.

      Thank God for the laws to protect people from the heavy handed politicians of the country.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The viewpoint writer suggests that the 4 MLA’s who voted againts his motion are the "darlings of the press"

    Which press is he talking about? Surely Mckeeva cannot be considered the darling of the press core? 

    Also why have the press not given kudos for the decision to allow MLA’s to vote their conscience and not be bound by collective responsibility and for those who voted against the Motion?

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      I think he means "darlings" on this particular issue. The point is that the press has given them kudos for not voting in favour of the motion (even though they had disparaging things to say about the press in their debate of the motion). 

  7. anonymous says:

    Ok Mr. Miller we get it.Now get back to your PAC of wolfes and be as agressive starting from the top. The Governor, deputy governor and financial secretrary to get the ball rolling and GET YOUR reports done. Your good at making noise but action speak louder then words. I don’t think the UK wants to take over a newspaper. Madam speaker with all due respect you had your share in your days of the marl roads.Sounds familiar NOW keep OUR and YOUR Honorable HOUSE in ORDER.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It’s a shame Mr. Miller doesn’t know about any corruption whatsoever occuring in our government. If he did, I am sure he would focus on that rather than trying to have the Compass prosecuted for nothing.

    Only in Cayman would one of the world’s wimpiest and synchophantic newspapers be viewed as outrageous and reckless by politicians.

    Our politicians are so clueless. Politicians any where else in the world would thank God every day to be blessed with such a bland, press release regurgitating rag such as the Compass. Just imagine how fast these "statesmen" would crumble if they ever had to face the journalistic wrath of an average high school newspaper in the UK or US.

    • Anonymous says:

      How can you say that? Ezzard has the RCIPs on speed dial and calls them whenever he sees or smells anything amiss.

      He is a hero.

      But like the fabled mythology hero Achilles he is flawed and does not know it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand, is Ezzard arguing that our government is NOT sinister and foolish?

     

    Who in their right mind would take such a position?

  10. nauticalone says:

    This over re-action by Ms. Mary and Ezzard (and the others voting for it) has done far more to "impunge the inegrity of the LA" than the articles in the Compass. And amounts to wasting valuable time! Surely they could/should have made their own statement in a more dignified and mature manner.

    Talk about "making a mountain out of a mole hill". How must this attitude and behavior look on an Interntional level also?….

    Ezzard; all humans err at times….even you. Let this go please.

    Signed,

    Embarassed.

  11. Hallowe'en Jack says:

    Why are we all reacting with shock about Ezzard over-reacting in a self-publicizing and grandiose manner?  Just another day at the office/flaming at the radio station for him.

  12. Dred says:

    Ezzard,

    While I agree with all you have stated I would say to you that you have probably pushed the envelope too far. I believe the correct thing to do wouldhave been to have demanded the compass to retract and apologize for the inaccurate representation.

    I would have personally forced them to state line by line where their story was wrong or face criminal charges.

    I believe you jumped the gun. I have never sat in the LA to see how they act and treat you guys but this is about being a bigger man. Lets also keep in mind how the media has also been under constant attack from the UDP. 

  13. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Ezzard! I accuse you of foolishness in the first degree! In luring me in to read your commentary, you, sir, have stolen five minutes of my life that I can never reclaim. I shall file a formal report with the RCIP. 

    Seriously Ezzard, you were far more dignified and made a lot more sense when you were spending all of your time standing up for the inalienable right of all Caymanians to park in handicapped zones. Don’t overreach, my friend. Know your talents and limitations. 

  14. Slowpoke says:

    Ezzard, your time would have been better spent writing something like:

     "Yikes, I overreacted in the heat of the moment, as I tend to do.  Although I strongly disagree with the Compass article and editorial, I will address this issue respectfully and cordially with the reporter and editor/publisher.  By demonstrating this adult and mature behaviour, I and my fellow politicians will hopefully be able to earn the respect and trust of the electorate." 

  15. Warwick Hunt says:

    Ezzard, the problem is with Govt, which includes you:

    "……..in my view carried several inaccurate statements and was written in a style that would lead readers to believe something sinister was being done.."

    Whenever Govt does ANYTHING nowadays one might suspect a sinister undertone, or a questionable motive, such is the (deserved) terrible reputation amongst the local population of the self-serving useless bunch of ?@#()’s in the LA. 

    And trying to prosecute the press is just another example of either MLA naivity orbullying, …………….namely the reverse of what we should hope for and expect from our representatives.

    So notwithstanding how you sometimes listen to Govt with "disgust", you are also in your own way part of the problem.

  16. Libertarian says:

    Ezzard

    There was nothing wrong with you or Ms. Mary speaking out against what you both believe to be unprofessional journalism. Nor calling out by name the person who was responsible for such a story! That was your freedom of speech.

    However, may I say Sir, not every wrong must warrant a prosecution or some kind of punishment. You can warn, you could have had the correct news story published, you could have had a one-on-one discussion with Mr. Brent Fuller, but for you to prosecute someone because of their freedom of speech no matter how negative that speech was… well… there is where you went wrong!  

    And you also attacked the very media that could help you get re-elected. I think from the start, you should have left this issue of "unprofessional journalism" in the hands of Ms. Mary.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard likes to throw bombs, this one has exploded to close to him though. The speaker and the nine idiots that followed him have lost major cred, you could not catch Mckeeva in that trap, to smart, Thank God we still have still have the English governor to stop this foolishness if the AG is so stupid to pursue this matter.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      i would hold out much hope for the governor …..he has remained silent on muerous issues of bad governance over the last 18 moths….

  18. Anonymous says:

     The fact that Ezzard Miller and Miss Mary have joined forces to criticize, suppress and prosecute the media just points to how pervasive the idealogy of the UDP has become.

    This country is well on its way to one party, one person rule.

    Tragic!

    • Anonymouse says:

      "This country is well on its way to one party, one person rule."

      I thought we had already arrived at that point once the results of the last election were known.

      However the request for the Attorney General to prosecute the media did not come from either Party, but from an Independent MLA and an unelected Speaker of the House.

  19. Caymanians for Good says:

    I know this is not going to be popular post but i have no problem with that. I do not even agree with Ezzard’s stance most of the time but the erosion of the ideals and our institutions are a slippery slope, whether done from the inside or the outside. The Compass, owned by an overseas company, clearly does not care on this erosion in Cayman even seemingly willing to add oil to the slope.

    This idea that everything that anyone does in or outside of government should be made public is “FOI gone mad”. There are issues of national security, commercial propriety and privacy of an individuals data (medical or legal details, etc) that should remain private. A subcommittee with no powers to change the FOI law has clearly be misrepresented to the country…and no doubt on purpose.

    While the excitement and local politics of FOI has taken Cayman by storm we need to settle down to the point where we are not wasting resources and headlines for the sake of these juvenile styled politics and press.

    I support Ezzard on this even though it is not politically correct. It is my opinion that the comments Mr. Uzzell of the Compass about the LA and in particular the Speaker is outrageous and seem particularly personal, unnecessarily. We Caymanians should not accept this. Next week it maybe your parents or friends berated by this monopolistic newspaper. Once the respect for the institutions goes it is gone. Look at the situation with the crime and the police.

    If the Compass wants to keep this stance on this story that is bad enough however to not apologize to the Speaker is clearly wrong. It appears grudges never die.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not a popular post because I think you may have a grossly inaccurate view of the scope of the FOI requests.  If you read the law you will find that there is already enshrined in it safeguards for all your points. It’s under exemptions if you want to take a look. http://www.foi.gov.ky

      I also believe you may be under selling the subcommittee, as, although they have no direct powers we all know how this works and has worked in the past. And besides when is it ever a good idea to let those people affected by a law to review it and make recommendations? Fox and hen house spring to mind.

      As to respect, I’m afraid the actions of those on the inside of the LA sealed their fate a long time ago, no hand wringing will elevate it back to where it should be.

      I do agree that Mr Uzzell lost some support by resorting to a personal attack, but taken in context where one of his staff and his life’s work were directly challenged and I think I may too have said the odd thing that would best not be printed.

  20. Anonymous says:

    "This in my view is also is an offence under section 18 (2) c. as I believe it touches the conduct of members when they are accused of doing foolishness."

    Ezzard: You are engaged in foolishness.  Stop it right now.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Never trust anyone who tries to suppress the operation of a free press.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard Miller feeling the need to write this explanation of his ill chosen motion urging for the prosecution based upon an editorial is fiddling while Cayman burns.

    Obviously the clear verdict is in; that Ezzard was wrong with this motion but beyond this motion he shows a need for control of the press and of free thought that is concerning. Ezzard’s motion represents a step backward in the development of communication within the country.

    He was back stepping on Talk Radio 14 December when he tried to soft sell his contribution based upon the amount of time he spend addressing the LA,what nonsense.

     

  23. Anonymous says:

    Respected can not be legislated it must be earned.

    Ezzard, I am afraid you are losing the respect you have been "earning" recently with this action.

    We need a stronger press not a stifled press.

    I am proud of the press in Cayman for standing up against this attempted government meddling with freedom of the press.

    We need more sunshine not more pulled shades from our "leaders".  Open the doors and let the public see!!!!!

  24. David R. Legge says:

    One problem with the actions of the Legislative Assembly, and the Speaker, is that there was no problem with either the original Compass story or its editorial. I have been a publisher, editor, and reporter for more than 30 years and am hypersensitive to libel and defamation, and neither of these articles even remotely committed either offense. Most regular readers of the work of Cayman’s reporters would agree that Brent Fuller is among the most meticulous, fair, and objective correspondents in the Cayman Press Corps.

    I take serious issue with the Speaker’s notion that covering public meetings of the Legislative Assembly is a privilege, not a right. Collectively the Legislative Assembly is a public body, elected and paid for by the people. If the doors are open to the public (as they are), they’re open to the press. Period.

    Also, again putting on my editor’s hat, this story is potentially "nitroglycerin." My counterparts in the U.S. media—and the U.S. Government—LOVE stories like this. Elected members I talk to in Cayman are often concerned with the damage that some news outlets sometimes do to the Cayman Islands abroad. In my opinion, they pale in comparison to the potential fallout from these recent House actions, initiated by MLA Ezzard Miller.

    This morning, December 14, Mr. Miller, appearing on the radio talk show “Crosstalk,” proclaimed that the Cayman media have repeatedly over the years disparaged the “institutions” of the Cayman Islands, showing and encouraging among the populace a lack of “respect.” Does Mr. Miller really believe, as he indicated on the air, that respect can be legislated, rather than earned?

    Additionally, Mr. Miller repeatedly declared that his role to move toward prosecution of Brent Fuller and The Compass was, after all, rather inconsequential. He said his contribution was merely to offer the motion, which might lead to prosecution. He was doing nothing more than, in his words, “getting things started.”

    Years agowhen I was covering police beats, an arsonist who lit the match that led to the conflagration told me the same thing.

    So what is to be done?

    For Brian Uzzell, the path is clear: 1) Continue the "no apology" posture, since there was no offense, 2) Involve the Governor immediately, since he may need to dust off his "reserve powers," 3) Engage the best attorneys and Queen’s Counsel he can afford to litigate this case without compromise, should it be filed. If he were to fail to defend his reporter and newspaper vigorously, he might as well post an "Out of Business" sign on the front door of The Compass. Knowing Brian Uzzell, I’m confident he will do the right thing.

    For the Attorney General, I would hope (and expect) that this entire matter would simply "die" in his chambers. He’s too pragmatic a man to pursue this losing issue. I would hope he would come out with a public statement to this effect very quickly, rather than let the matter languish. The longer this issue remains unresolved, the greater the potential danger for these islands.

    In closing, I believe the elected members who voted for this ill-conceived prosecution will regret following Mr. Miller over this precipice. They have based their actions on the worst possible "test case," and they’ll lose in court (should it come to that). Even worse, we’ll all lose in the court of public opinion—both on and off the island.

    • Anonymous says:

      You’ve completely missed the point, David. The motion has nothing to do with defamation and Ezzard was not claiming the article was libelous. Did you read the viewpoint?

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr. Legge, I understand your urge to defend your brother journalists but, with respect, it does not appear that you have researched this matter well. In particular, it appears that you have not read the LA Powers Privileges and Immunities Law in order to understand the offences contained therein, or for that matter Mr. Miller’s article where he sets out the bases for his contentions. You take issue with the Speaker’s "notion" that it is a privilege because evidently you have not bothered to read the Law.  You have merely made a bald assertion based on your own supposed authority that the articles did not "remotely commit" offences of libel and defamation. 

      As far as respect for our institutions is concerned Mr. Miller is entirely correct.  The Legislative Assembly as a foundational institution in this society and the offices it represents do not have to "earn" your respect, sir. You must learn to separate that from the opinions that you hold of individual members. This is well understood in any civilised society. The idea that foundational institutions such as the legislature and the courts in order to be respected must earn the individual respect of each person who is either born here or comes to these shores is patently absurd since each individual can then establish his own subjective standard of how that respect is earned and justify his own misconduct in the interim. It is a philosophy that can only foster anarchy and lawlessness.  You are intelligent enough to know better but you appear to be playing to the crowd.  

      That being said I do not believe that thereshould have been a motion to prosecute Mr. Fuller and the Compass. I believe that the reprimand and suspension of privileges by the Speaker was sufficient in the circumstances. It is also the case that there is no chance at all that the AG will pursue such a prosecution regardless of whether the elements of the offences are made out. It would have been an ultimately self-defeating step except for that the fact that the Compass has responded by excluding itself from the L.A.   

      All of this is unfortunate. But make no mistake, Mr. Fuller and the Compass have their fair share of the blame.       

  25. Anonymous says:

    foot, meet mouth!

  26. O'Really says:

    In reading your defence of your decision to call on the AG to prosecute Brent Fuller and the Compass, it appears to me that what you call facts are, for the most part, interpretations and I would like to give you an alternative set of interpretations in the hope that you may yet come to your senses.

    1)“It appears the legal review of Cayman’s first Freedom of Information Law will not be done before the eyes of the public." 

    Any reasonable interpretation of this sentence would lead a reader to the conclusion that what is being addressed is not the legislative procedure by which the review has been authorised, nor the process by which the final official report is released to the public ( the 2 legs on which your defence appears to be based), but the manner in which the actual review is being conducted, ie in a session or sessions of the subcommittee which are to be held behind closed doors with no press or general public access. Since as far as I am aware this is a reflection of the subcommittee’s intended course of action, it seems to me entirely factual.

    2.“A six-member Legislative Assembly subcommittee is scheduled to begin meeting ‘in camera’ — privately — this month to review Cayman’s Freedom of Information law."

    Again, it seems to me that no interpretation of this is required. Unless you are now saying that the review meetings will be open to the public and that this was always the intention, which Fuller somehow got wrong, this is factually correct. According to the AG, the full session of the LA which authorised the subcommittee was held behind closed doors, so the public has some indication of just how open MLA’s want to be on this subject.

    My understanding is that Standing Orders permit, but do not mandate, reviews to be held in private. I will readily concede that your knowledge of Standing Orders is superior to mine, so it seems reasonable to assume that if an order mandating that the reviews be held in private exists, you would be aware of it and have quoted it in your comment. The absence of any such quote speaks volumes. The LA and the subcomittee have the option to hold the meetings in public with full press coverage and have chosen not to do so.

    3. Technically, you may well be correct that the formal process for changing the law was not accurately presented in the Compass article, but after much consideration, I find my response, to quote Dick Cheney, is " so what?"

     4. Any reasonable interpretation of the Compass’ use of the term "foolishness" is that it relates to the decision to hold the subcommittee meetings in private. Whether this is foolish or not is clearly a matter of interpretation, not fact. 

    And just to set the record straight, are you seriously suggesting that no MLA’s have acted foolishly, or that if they had, they should not be called on it? 

    5. " It is in fact the direct opposite of what is supposed to occur under the FOI law"

    Once more you have chosen to rely on the LA’s adherence to procedure in establishing the subcommittee to suggest this is a mis-statement of fact. Once more we are in the area of interpretation, not fact and once more I cannot help but think that a reasonable interpretation of this sentence is that it refers to the objective and spirit of the FOI law, that transparency in government is important and necessary and consequently the decision of the LA to hold meetings to review the FOI in private is in fact " the direct opposite " of the spirit of FOI.

    If you are lucky, the AG will decide on this matter in a way which saves not just you, but Cayman from your actions. At a time when the entire world ( well outside of Cayman ) is hugely sensitised on the subject of press freedom and covert government actions by the Wikileaks saga, you wish to expose Cayman to the full glare of an adversarial world press. Way to protect your islands.

  27. Peoples Front of Judea says:

    Mr Miller, you do know what an Editorial is don’t you :

    "An article in a publication expressing the opinion of its editors or publishers."

    Now for your points:

    1) "It appears the legal review of Cayman’s first Freedom of Information Law will not be done before the eyes of the public"

    As you quote in the law, the review will be done by a select committee in private, only their recommendations will be made public. So the legal review is not done in public. This may be the law, but the editorail is still correct they have just omitted that it is the law, but this is an editorial!

    2)"A six-member Legislative Assembly subcommittee is scheduled to begin meeting ‘in camera’ — privately — this month to review Cayman’s Freedom of Information law."

    Once again true see above, they will review the law, even if they only make recommendations

    3) "We suppose someone in the ‘secret’ subcommittee that we guess is going to be deciding the fate of Cayman’s Freedom of Information law will say something like this over the coming weeks"

    As we have established the sub committee is meeting behind closed doors so is private or secret (ie not done in public view). And any recommendations made if taken up by the LA will decide the future of Cayman’s FOI.

    SO true statement again

    4) Foolishneess, well it’s an editorial and I think most people will look at the LA wasting a whole day discussing a journalist while our elderly are being beaten in their own homes may lead them to the same conclusion. If you were a man of the people and not an MLA how would you see it, try walking in our shoes. Do you see that as tolerating crime> trying to prosecute a journalist, wasting the AG and police time that could be spend catching these violent criminals, over what appears to be the LA’s pride?

    The only statement that would need a retraction is your 5th point, and frankly is that worth a whole day of the LA’s time. Work it out all the MLA’s and the Speakers salaries divided by the days they sit in session and I ask you is that value for money?

  28. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for your explanation, Mr. Miller. I think that there is a case to answer by the Compass and Mr. Fuller but I also think that prosecution is a little extreme in the circumstances.

    Now that Mr. Miller has laid out his case it seems to me that it is incumbent on the Compass and Mr. Fuller either to acknowledge that their report was inaccurate and/or misleading or demonstrate that Mr. Miller’s assessment is wrong. It would be arrogant simply to assume the position that any conduct is justified in the name of freedom of the press and that it is sufficient that they may enjoy the support of the unthinking masses. 

    The issue at stake here is not whether you like the Speaker, Mr. Miller or his views or indeed any of the MLAs. It is also not about whether the Speaker in her former life has a journalistwrote pieces harshly critical of the government, or whether serious crime is rampant. It is about the respect that should be accorded the institution that is the legislative assembly and the office that the members hold. When we cease to respect our institutions then we give way to lawlessness generally and our society must crumble.  

    I hold no brief for any of the parties but I was honestly appalled at Mr. Uzzell’s response whereby he launched a personal attack against the Speaker which smacked of utter contempt. It seems that he may have compounded the problem and added fuel to the fire.    

  29. Anonymous says:

    Please stop wasting everyone’s time and sit together with the other elected members and figure out how to stop the crime wave which is killing this country.

    Once everyone can feel somewhat secure again walking to their parked car at night or being in their own home, then we can perhaps focus on analyzing BS as this one.

    In the meantime, if you want to be in politics, be ready to be torn down. Imagine if all politicians in other countries would chase down every reporter who ever wrote an article that could be interpreted in different ways…..Gosh!

    • Anonymous says:

      The increase in crime will kill this country in the near-term but can be reversed fairly easily. 

      The erosion of the right of the media to report on Government’s activities will kill this country in the mid-term and it will be more difficult to reverse its effects. 

      The continuation by this Government to implement misguided policies and shield its decisionmaking from the public will kill this country forever.

  30. Anonymous9 says:

    Very well said Jules Rimet.

    I don’t understand why Ezzard didn’t just sort it out with Brent directly so that a retraction of any ‘wrong’ statements could be made if deemed necessary.

    Why the big hoopla?? Why the public spectacle. Constantly making a fools of yourselves.

    Respect is earned and there is not much of that going on these days.

     

  31. JTB says:

    What a load of sanctimonious self-serving guff.

    Mr Miller, if you aspire to lead this country, you need to grow up and accept that scrutiny and a free press are parts of democracy, and that respect must be earned rather than demanded.

  32. Anonymous says:

    MLAs will be disappointed if they believe that they can vote themselves the respect of the people in the same way that they vote themselves raises and perks. MLAs have no difficulty voting themselves big pay raises whenever they want, and they have even voted to allow themselves to "double-dip", to collect pensions for serving as MLAs while they are still serving as MLAs. That was an outrage far greater than any difference in interpretation of the word "secret".

    No one likes MLAs who behave like bullies. Today’s Compass editorial is right. Many of our MLAs are there not because the majority of voters thought that they are absolutely wonderful. They are there in quite a few cases because they were the least objectionable among the options available. To the extent that is correct, perhaps some should no longer be referred to as "Honourable" but as "Least Objectionable". 

    The fact that they wasted almost an entire day in the LA last week whining, puffing themselves up and trying to muzzle the media suggests to me that the least objectionable we chose are not worth the votes they got.  If they want respect let them earn it by passing the laws we need to bring the crime in this country under control.

     

    • Joe Average says:

      perhaps some should no longer be referred to as "Honourable" but as "Least Objectionable".

      Well said!  Least objectionable is so true. This is the state of politricks throughout the world.  Aswe march off like lemmings (sheep to the slaughter?) to the polls.  Choices????  Democratic elections??? C’mon, even in so called "democratic" countries the only discerning difference is we get the opportunity to elect OUR dictators.

      And we get that chance once every four years. So what. It matters not who #crews you. After that we’re forgotten as they push themselves up to the trough.

      Choosing the lesser of two evils is NOT democracy. Show me another difference between the facade of democracy and a dictatorship and I’ll change my mind.

  33. Andrew Reid says:

    Attacks on freedom of the press are nothing new in these islands.

    Consider the following excerpts from "Patronage, Personalities and Parties – Caymanian Politics from 1950-2000" by J.A. Roy Bodden in which the author examines the challenges faced by the Nor’wester Magazine:

    "Its existence was, and still is, a tribute to its publisher Desmond Seales, its editor Jim Graves and its prominent and often controversial senior investigative journalist, Mary Lawrence."

    "Years of vilification, harassment and victimization led to a high attrition rate among its outstanding journalists and editorial staff."

    "In the long term however, the strength of the anti-Nor’wester campaign proved too much……….Mary Lawrence found it prudent to leave the publication…."

    "To those familiar with the action of vindictive politicians in Caymanian society – ‘the choke hold was being applied’."

    "No one it seems had the maturity and fortitude to declare that a threat to press freedom somewhere was a threat to press freedom everywhere."

    "One is also at a loss, as to whether such a seemingly casual removal of an important arm of the society was just another manifestation of the arrogant, high handed and vindictive policies of a political cabal…".

     

  34. John Evans says:

    Cayman is reviewing their FOI laws, so is the UK.

    We have a pretty good idea all ready what is coming out of the UK review – more restrictions on access, higher fees, limits on the ICO/CIO’s powers and generally less FOI. The reason for this is partly that FOI has proved highly embarrassing to all those involved but also because it costs a small fortune to run.

    Whether it becomes law or not over here is questionable but the fact that these changes are being considered is cause for concern. Even more worrying is the fact that some of the most determined lobbying for the  changes is coming from the very departments that never wanted FOI in first place and those who have been the most obstructive when it comes to handling requests.

    In simple terms FOI has forced many organisations in the public sector over here to be a lot more careful how they do business, something that has not gone down well particularly with the police who seem to be one of the main advocates for change.

    I cannot believe, reading some recent headlines, that the review in Cayman is anything but more of the same. There is a clear reluctance in some areas to respect the legal requirements of FOI, which is blatant contempt for boththe rule of law and the decisions of democratically elected representatives, and it rather looks like this is being approached not by tackling the offenders but by changing the rules to suit them.

    Mr Miller, would it not make more sense to deal with the abuse of FOI within government rather than attacking the press for doing their job?

     

  35. Anonymous says:

    Presumably the next time that someone suggests that the odd fridge or washing machine might be handed out around election time, a similar course of action will be taken, assuming that it is a misrepresentation of the facts.

    Also can’t help but observe that suspending standing orders doesn’t seem to have proved too difficult for the LA in recent years.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard is generally intelligent and often I agree with his views, but it is incidents and the situation he created in the LA that makes him someone I could never give my vote to. Underneath it all, he is a very dangerous man. XXXXX

  37. Anonymous says:

    I have just 2 brief points to make regarding this nonsense:

    First, with all due respect to Mr. Miller and with reference to any ill-founded assertion that the MLAs were somehow absolutely bound to exclude public oversight of FOI sub-committee activities, those of us who have paid attention over the years know that the LA suspends various standing orders on a regular basis whenever this serves their convenience or whim. There can be no doubt that had there been any interest in allowing the public to be aware of what the sub-committee was doing, an appropriate motion could have made this happen. Shame on the members of the LA for not doing this if in fact it was necessary – which I very much doubt.

    Second, the excuses provided with respect to the referral to the Attorney General completely ignore the fact that the citizens of this country have every right to expect that the MLAs will spend their time tackling issues such as the crime which is tearing this country apart. We are ANGRY that MLAs collectively waste so much of the resources of this country on puffed up juvenile behaviour and pretending that they are high and mighty. Get real and get to work or get out and make room for those willing to work for the good of this country. Respect for Members and the institution will follow when we see that you have earned it.

  38. da-wa-u-get says:

    It would appear that the words in the respective Compass articles may not have been entirely accurate, however, in my opinion the choice of words did not distort or misrepresent the intention of government regarding the issue under discussion and the fact that the FOI law is going to be reviewed behind closed doors (in secret) by the people who have complained about the provisions of that law the most voiciferously.

    Given the comments made by the Premier in public regarding the FOI law and his history of trying to force his opinion on the Government and the Peopleof these Islands by any means, the public has good reasons to be more than concerned about what restriction will be placed on the public in trying to obtain information to which they are entitled.

    Any distortion that the Compass may be guilty of, pales in comparison to what elected Public officials routinely practice.

     

  39. Rabble Rouser says:

    Ezzard, I have often sung your praises as the most sensible and reasonable MLA now sitting, but you got this one wrong.

    This is not about minute facts, or you and I would have to give credence to any arguments about possible new benefits that could arise from putting a dock in East End. The fallacy here being that we must first accept that putting a dock in East End is not a bad idea.

    Asking the Attorney General to bring charges against a reporter for impunging the integrity of MLAs when murders, armed robberies, home invasions, and a host of other violent crimes are taking place daily without any charges being placed leads people to suspect that there is no longer a connection between MLAs and the people who put them in office.

    If the press should appear to suggest that certain MLAs have little in the way of integrity to impugne (Compass Editorial 14/12/10), then that is no more than what a vast amount of people already think.

    Shake it off, and get back to work. There are far bigger problems facing this country.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Do you know what could be the unintended result of this action made by Ezzard?

    Historically the media have backed down to the will of the government and Ezzard may have opened a Pandora’s box with this development.

    When the news media earn their spurs in dealing with government and the legal system and become fluent with legal and human rights beyond the Cayman Islands the politicians will no longer enjoy their untouchable status.

    Ezzard has forced the media to grow up and stand up. Ironically the issue was a mountain made of a mole hill.

    The history of secrets is well known in Cayman perhaps this will change.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Miller is the one that appears to misrepresent the facts. Standing Orders allow for meetings to be held in public, it was decided to hold the review of the FOI law in private or "in camera". Mr Miller has the nerve to speak of duty, Mr Miller where was your sense of civic duty when you sat in Exco and allowed your brother politicians to preside over secondary education facilities of the lowest quality.

    Secondary education facilities that turned out a mass of uneducated, ill equipped youth that have now no option but to seek less than noble methods of eking out a living.

    When I see my brothers in Northward I see a society that has failed them, particularly their so-called elected representatives.

  42. Jules Rimet says:

    Respect?  The gist of this article is that we have not shown the MLA’s enough "respect".  Not my words, Ezzard’s – "In my view this is about a principle of respect for the working of our Legislative Assembly and the members elected to that high office."

    Given the behaviour of this current crop of MLA’s, with their petty name calling, rushed and unworkable statutes and collective self-obsession, it is hard to hold a positive view of the class of 2009.

    Ezzard’s utterly disproportionate reaction to public criticism does not assist their cause, rather it harms it.  Rather than thinking, as Ezzard does, that this is good use of Assembly time, the Attorney-General’s time and considerable public funds, the vast majority of us see this as complete overreaction bordering on attempted censorship.

    Ezzard, we do not have a great deal of respect of politicians at the moment.  Your position not even a "high office" in any sense of the term.  Rather than trying to force us to respect you, why do you, and your brother politicians, conduct themselves in a manner we ultimately leads us to respect you all?