Archive for May 27th, 2013

Moyle to receive full state funeral

| 27/05/2013 | 16 Comments

Edna Moyle (199x300).jpg(CNS): The former speaker of the Legislative Assembly who passed away last week will be honoured with a full state funeral which includes the first ever lying-in-state at the Legislative Assembly this Thursday. Cayman officials said Monday. Edna Moyle will be given a full ceremonial funeral starting with the lowering to half-mast of the Cayman Islands’ flag outside the Government Administration Building on Elgin Avenue Thursday morning. The former representative from North Side will be buried on Saturday in her home district at 3.00pm at the WO Chisholm family cemetery in Grapetree Point, North Side but her funeral will begin with a funeral cortege from George Town to Frank sound where the service will be held at the Clifton Hunter High School site.

During the lying-in-state at the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, May 30 senior government officials will pay their respects at the start of the official lying-in-state that will continue from 10.00am until 3.00pm. During this time, members of the public are also invited to attend the Legislative Assembly building to file past the coffin. A guard-of-honour from the police, prison and fire services will watch over the proceedings.

“Only current and former post-holders of the most senior public service positions are entitled to receive this honour. These include the Governor, the Premier and former Leaders of Government Business, the Chief Justice, the Speaker, as well as the Deputy Governor,” government officials said in a release.

Moyle represented the district of North Side in the Legislative Assembly from 1992-2009 and served as a Cabinet Minister from 2000-2001. She was a founding member of the PPM and when they were voted into office after the 2005 eelction she served as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly during that administration.

Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose, who is responsible for protocol, urged the public to attend in memory of Moyle’s role in the development of the country. “Members of the Legislative Assembly are responsible for the introduction of laws that govern our society, and Cabinet Ministers set policies that affect each and every one of us.  As a MLA who was also a Minister and Speaker, Mrs Moyle had a particularly significant role to play. It is fitting that the country should mark her passing in this way,” he said.

The funeral will be rebroadcast on CIGTV20 at a date to be announced the GIS release stated.

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Miller and McLean deny any UDP talks

| 27/05/2013 | 18 Comments

ard n ezz_0.jpg(CNS): Following comments individually to the media that neither of them had engaged in any talks with the United Democratic Party in order to prevent the PPM from forming a government, Arden McLean and Ezzard Miller issued a joint statement Monday formally denying the rumours. The independent members-elect categorically denied that they had met or negotiated by any means, such as phone, text or email, with the UDP regarding theformation of a government. In face of rumours that the two men had talked with the UDP about a possible alternative government, the independent members not only refuted the allegations but pointed to their record over the last four years.

“The leader of the Progressives, Mr Alden McLaughlin, himself acknowledged in his press conference this past Saturday that the East End member, Mr Arden McLean, and Mr Ezzard Miller have worked tirelessly over the past four years to rescue our country from the UDP. For anyone now to suggest that we were conferring with the UDP is incorrect,” the elected representatives for North Side and East End said. "And what would be the point of negotiating with three people who could not form a government?" they questioned.

Speaking to CNS earlier on Monday, both men had already denied that they had been involved in talks with the UDP but Miller acknowledged that they had been involved in talks with the C4C candidates and both men pointed to what they believed was a constitutional barrier to McLaughlin forming a government with Juliana O’Connor-Connolly as speaker.

McLean also denied having stated that he would not work with McLaughlin in government on the eve of the election as others had, and said the only emphatic statement he had made prior to the election was that he would not under any circumstances work with McKeeva Bush or any member of the UDP to help that group be part of a new government.

Meanwhile, it is understood that UDP officials made several approaches to PPM elected members as well as the C4C and Miller. The North Side member said he had not engaged in talks with any of the UDP and did not return calls made to him by McKeeva Bush, which he guessed were in connection with the PPM’s failure to get an outright majority.

Although offers were made by members of the UDP party hierarchy that Bush was prepared to take a back seat in a coalition government that included the independents and some PPM, the UDP’s attempt to cobble together a coalition appears to have been rejected by all those who were approached.

Although the PPM was returned as the largest party, without cooperation from at least one other member of the mixed group of nine that was also returned, McLaughlin could not form a government.

Given the opposition among those who had been elected outside of the UDP to Bush becoming premier, the PPM leader was probably anticipating that most of those six candidates would move to support him leading the next government, given the result. However, with the exception of Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, none of the other candidates have voluntarily agreed to support the new PPM  administration.

Miller has made it clear he will not, and has stated that he will be returning to the south-east corner on the opposition bench, where he will remain an independent opposition voice. McLean has said he will not block McLaughlin’s appointment as premier but he has not yet stated if he is willing to sit on the government benches and offer his support or whether he will be joining Miller and Bush on the other side of the chamber.

Meanwhile, the C4C, who are still hoping for more government representation, have also failed to indicate if they are going to join Bush’s opposition, make a move to form an alternative opposition of their own or support the PPM and McLaughlin as premier.

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AG denies Bridger allegations

| 27/05/2013 | 56 Comments

Sam bulginAG_0.jpg(CNS): Cayman’s Attorney General has vehemently denied allegations made against him that he did not tell the truth in connection with the discredited Operation Tempura corruption investigation into the RCIPS. Samuel Bulgin released a statement Monday not only rejecting what he said were ‘scurrilous’ allegations by Martin Bridger but expressing his surprise that they have been found worthy of possible investigation by British authorities. In the wake of the news that the UK’s Scotland Yard has recommended an investigation into what happened during the bungled police investigation, over which it had oversight, Bulgin said there was not a shred of “independent or contemporaneous evidence” that he had not been truthful to the investigators.

In the statement posted in full below, the Cayman Islands attorney general suggests that the allegations contained in the latest reports about the internal police investigation, which took place in Cayman between 2007 and 2009, were another “scandalous move” in Bridger’s on-going campaign, which now also involves the former police commissioner, Stuart Kernohan.

Bulgin stated that the two men had already cost the Cayman Islands millions of dollars and were seeking to cause the country further financial and reputationaldamage to the country.

“Not only do I strongly deny but also resent any assertions of my being untruthful to the Tempura investigators,” Bulgin said. “There is not a shred of independent or contemporaneous evidence to support such a scurrilous claim and, to the contrary, the documents from that time demonstrate conclusively that the allegation is not true. It is remarkable that Mr Bridger's one-sided and inaccurate account of events, which are to his own entire discredit, should have been thought worthy of further investigation,” he added.

Bulgin insisted that once the documents were examined, Bridger’s account would not stand scrutiny as he suggested that Bridger was discredited as a result of the bungled investigation. He added that he was considering defamation action against those whom,  he said, were pursuing personal agendas with the “disgraceful and unfounded attack”.

At this point, however, the Metropolitan Police has indicated that it believes an investigation should be launched, based partly on evidence that was presented by Bridger in his continuing complaints to the UK authorities about the truth behind the now infamous investigation.

Allan Gibson the head of New Scotland Yard has reportedly written to the current governor, Duncan Taylor, stating that the claims against the officials involved amounted to possible "misconduct in public office, attempting to pervert the course of justice and possibly wasting police time,” as he told the governor he believed that the allegations did “contain sufficient detail” to warrant a criminal investigation.

Meanwhile, the governor's office has confirmed that Duncan Taylor has received the Met letter suggesting an investigation.

"I can confirm that the Governor has received a letter from the Metropolitan Police and is considering it carefully. Before the Governor can respond, he needs to take independent legal advice. This advice has been sought and is awaited," a spokesperson for the office stated.

See Bulgin’s statement in full below and related story on CNS:

Jack and Bulgin face enquiry

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Mac will lead opposition

| 27/05/2013 | 71 Comments

macLA.JPG(CNS): While the government front bench remained in question Monday as Tara Rivers continued to consider the offer of a Cabinet post made to her by the premier in waiting, there seemed to be no challenge to McKeeva Bush’s role as opposition leader. According to the constitution, it is the leader of the largest party that is expected to take up that position, which points to the former premier and leader of the UDP. Although the C4C entered into an agreement of some kind to work with the two independents in an effort to negotiate their way on to the PPM front bench, there is no indication that the group of five will be coming together to oppose Bush’s candidacy as the official leader of the opposition.

While the C4C team and the independents were all still holding out on supporting McLaughlin’s government, hoping for more seats at the government table, Tara Rivers is set to meet with her constituents on Monday evening regarding her decision to join it as a minister but has said that there should be a coalition government with at least one more Cabinet seat going to independents.

The PPM had agreed to extend their deadline for Rivers until 8am Tuesday, ahead of their press briefing to confirm the Cabinet, giving her one final chance to join them.

Meanwhile, Arden McLean echoed comments by Miller that section 45 of the constitution did not give McLaughlin a majority, regardless of his invitation to Juliana O’Connor-Connolly to be speaker. However, the former PPM member said he would not be attempting to block McLaughlin as premier, despite what he believed were constitutional issues that were thrown-up by the election result.

McLean also vehemently denied that he had ever said he would not work with the PPM prior to the election but had indicated that he would wait to see what happened. He added that his position had been that he would not, under any circumstances, work with Bush in government.

While all of the independent candidates may still be hoping for a slice of government, none of them have commented on how the opposition will shape up and whether the C4C candidates will be scrutinizing government through Bush or whether they will be seeking to pull together a non-aligned opposition group to sit in “opposition to the opposition”. This term was coined by Bush when he moved to the opposition benches following the vote of no confidence in December for his UDP administration and the subsequent split from his former colleagues.

When Bush chose to sit on the opposition benches in the few short meetings of the LA after the downfall of his government, it was clear that, despite his fracture with his former government colleagues, he was equally in opposition to the then formal opposition leader and even informally challenged McLaughlin for the job on the floor of the House, as at the time he, like the PPM leader, had four seats.

Bush’s UDP now only has three seats in the LA but the C4C, which although not a party is not constitutionally prevented from being an official opposition, have three seats and the eastern independents have two. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly has offered her support to the PPM government and, in order to avoid a hung parliament, has accepted the nomination as speaker. 

Unless the C4C and the independents join forces to become the official opposition or unless they do decide to follow in O’Connor-Connolly’s footsteps and offer to support McLaughlin’s government, they will be joining Bush on the opposition benches with him as leader.

Miller, who was the only one of the ‘independents’ group to talk about his opposition role, told CNS that he would continue to oppose what is necessary and did not need any title.

He said he had acted as a clear but independent opposition voice, scrutinizing government and representing the people of the Cayman Islands without the tag of opposition leader during the last administration and he was happy to do so again during the next one.

Tara Rivers will be holding a meeting at the John A Cumber Primary School in West Bay Monday evening at 7pm to speak with the district about the offer made to her.

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Rivers holds out for more

| 27/05/2013 | 105 Comments

rivers - Copy (210x300).jpg(CNS): Although the C4C and independent candidates who won seats in Wednesday’s election are denying they have any influence over Tara Rivers' decision to hold off on accepting the Cabinet seat offered to her by the premier in waiting, she is reportedly still seeking a seat for Roy McTaggart as a condition of her acceptance. In the wake of the election result, which gave the PPM nine seats, just one shy of an outright majority, it is understood that Arden McLean, Ezzard Miller, Roy McTaggart, Winston Connolly and Rivers all met Friday and made an agreement to work together to hold out for at least two, if not three, Cabinet seats and the speaker’s chair to force a coalition government.

In additionto failed attempts at picking off some of the PPM team, not only by the independent group but also by the UDP, representatives from the UDP were also trying to persuade the independent candidates that former premier McKeeva Bush would be willing to sit on the back benches of a coalition government if they were to join forces.

However, McTaggart and Miller have both vehemently denied any involvement in talks with the UDP. Miller said he had received solicitation from the party members and had nine missed calls from the party leader, which he did not return. However, Miller has admitted making an early bid for the premiership on Thursday morning as the fnal results came in. He confirmed sending a text to a member of the PPM suggesting a cabinet with him as the leader, which included McTaggart and Connolly and some PPM members but not Rivers.

On Monday, Miller told CNS that was merely “a suggestion” based on the belief that some PPM members were not happy with their leader and would therefore be interested in a coalition. However, once it was clear they were all happy to back McLaughlin, Miller said he changed course and asked that the PPM meet with the three C4C members as well as himself and his political partner, Arden McLean, but he said McLaughlin never responded to that request.

Meanwhile, an offer was made directly to Tara Rivers by McLaughlin of a Cabinet seat and it was also made clear that the speaker’s post was available. When Rivers came back to the PPM refusing the offer and asking for two more Cabinet seats and the speaker, McLaughlin reiterated his original offer that the Cabinet seat was open to Rivers alone and the speaker was still available to either of the political veterans.

On the eve of the election Miller, , McTaggart and Connolly had all made it very clear they would not support a PPM government led by McLaughlin, while McLean had avoided commiting himself either way.  Rivers too did not go on record at any time to state she would not work with McLaughlin and, as a result, remained the most likely candidate for the new premier in waiting to invite into his government. In addition, Rivers’ emphatic break-through in such an important district made her the obvious choice to give West Bay government representation.

However, Rivers has still declined the invitation following the failed attempts by the C4C and the independent members to horse-trade for more influence over the new government, which was sealed on Saturday when Juliana O’Connor -Connolly agreed to support the PPM leader and to accept the nomination for the speaker’s position.

Despite claims from Miller that the five had agreed to work together to persuade the PPM administration to form a coalition-PPM led government, McTaggart told CNS via email Monday that neither he nor Connolly had any influence over Rivers.

“I am not able to speak on behalf of Tara and Winston as they are independent MLA's (elect),” he wrote when asked to comment about the change of events since Thursday,when the team that campaigned on a platform of 'Country First' appeared to be putting themselves first when presented with their first important decision.

“I am aware that Tara has been offered a cabinet position by Mr McLaughlin. To the best of my knowledge, she is considering the offer and will make her own decision whether to accept or decline the offer. She is under no obligation to seek the advice/counsel of the C4C. It is NOT a C4C decision as your heading suggests,” he said referring to the title of the email sent by CNS, “Government and C4C's decision not to join?”

In addition, McTaggart was quick to deny any talks with Bush and said the rumours that the independent candidates are or were in negotiations with the UDP were false. “This is simply not true,” he added.

However, it is clear that the C4C and the independents had collectively requested McLaughlin tosit down with all five of them and his team of nine with the goal of having all fourteen form a government across the front and back benches.

Given the strength of the PPM’s position, the attempts at backroom deals collapsed over the weekend, but Miller told CNS Monday that he still did not believe that even with the support of O’Connor-Connolly that the PPM was in a constitutional position to form government. This notion was dismissed by the PPM team, who have already informed the governor of the make-up of the next administration, though not all of the portfolios have been finalized as a result of the offer still being open to Rivers.

Nevertheless, the North Side member, who swept to victory in his constituency with over 70% of the vote, said he was happy with the status quo.

“I am happy in my south-east corner and I will do what I have always done, which will be to represent the people of North Side and to look out for the interest of Cayman,” he said. “McLaughlin can expect the same kind of constructive and critical analysis of everything he brings to the Legislative Assembly as McKeeva Bush got,” Miller added.

He said he was disappointed that the leader of the PPM, in the wake of the result, had refused to meet with him, McLean and the C4C elected candidates to sit down and discuss the formation of the best possible government.

As the clock ticked towards the swearing in of the new parliament on Wednesday, time was running out for Rivers. Having called into Rooster’s talkshow Monday morning insisting that the PPM leader should give more, it is becoming increasingly likely that she will not accept the seat without at least one more for her C4C colleagues. However,  given the result and the emphatic comments by McTaggart last week that he would not support McLaughlin as premier, the PPM leader is extremely unlikely to want to give a Cabinet post to a man who has publicly stated that he does not have faith in him as the country’s leader.

As a result, and unless things change before the end of play Monday, it looks like the people of West Bay have lost out on a chance of government representation and the PPM will be functioning with a tight majority.

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Jack and Bulgin face enquiry

| 27/05/2013 | 12 Comments

jack2 thin_0.jpg(CNS): Former Governor Stuart Jack, Attorney General Sam Bulgin and the FCO's Caribbean Policy Adviser Larry Covington could face a criminal inquiry for allegedly lying to Metropolitan Police officers investigating corruption within the RCIPS, a Scotland Yard review has concluded. Jack has been cited by the Met in a letter to the current governor, Duncan Taylor, for possible attempts to pervert the course of justice over a break-in at the Cayman Net News office in 2007 by two of its staff. The senior investigating officer of "Operation Tempura", Martin Bridger, has claimed that Jack did not tell him that he had authorised the search and that if he had, the investigation would have lasted for only a couple of weeks. However, Jack has categorically denied the allegations made by Bridger, implying that he had told him about his part in the break-in.

In a statement to CNS, Jack said, “I categorically deny the allegations made by Martin Bridger. One can only assume that Mr Bridger’s continued attempts to undermine my credibility are designed to further his own interests in relation to the forthcoming civil proceedings in the Cayman Islands.

"Such baseless accusations are deeply upsetting to my family and harmful to my reputation. I look forward to giving evidence as a witness when those civil proceedings come for trial in the Cayman Islands Grand Court. I have no doubt that the Court will find Mr Bridger’s remarks to be wholly unsubstantiated."

Bulgin has also vehemently denied the allegations.

Bridger told CNS that he has documented evidence of his interviews with the former governor, the attorney general and Covington, the FCO official who was based in Miami at the time of the investigation. He said that these have been shown to the Metropolitan Police and on the basis of these interviews, Met officials had decided that an investigation into their conduct was warranted.

Stuart Kernohan, who was the Cayman Islands commissioner of police at the time, and his deputy, John Jones, have both made statements that Jack was fully aware of and had authorized the search of the Net News officers by John Evans and Lyndon Martin, who were both working as reporters at the newspaper at the time.

Much of the controversy over the investigation, which has cost the Cayman Islands millions of dollars, is now over the question of whether Jack knew about the break-in or not, as Bridger's position is that his entire investigation was based from the very start on a false premise. Kernohan, who was suspended when the investigation was made public in March 2008 and eventually sacked from his job, and Jones, who has since retired from the RCIPS, have supported Bridger's call for an investigation into the conduct of the officials.

"If it is shown that they lied to me in the course of the investigation, that is immense," Bridger told CNS. Jack has retired but Bridger said that AG Sam Bulgin and Covington could not viably remain in their posts if such an investigation takes place, in the same way that Kernohan and Jones were suspended from the RCIPS when Operation Tempura was in progress.

“From the outset, and continuing until this day, I have called for a full investigation into the conduct of the Governor and member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Stuart Jack, Samuel Bulgin the Attorney General, the Chief Secretary George McCarthy, and others involved in this fiasco,” Kernohan stated in April. 

According to the The Independent on Sunday, which says it has seen the letterfrom the Yard's Commander Allan Gibson to Taylor, copied to Simon Fraser, the head of the Diplomatic Service, the claims against Jack and the other two officials, which Jack strongly denies, amount to possible "misconduct in public office, attempting to pervert the course of justice and possibly wasting police time.” Gibson wrote, “It is my view the allegations are serious and contain sufficient detail to warrant a criminal investigation."

The FCO is continuing its fight to keep details of Tempura secret. The Cayman Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert directed the Governor's Office to release a copy of a report relating to a complaint filed by Martin Bridger about the operation to a freedom of information applicant. However, Justice Sir Alan Moses stayed the release on appeal. The British judge approved Governor Taylor’s application for judicial review and the next step is to set a date for the substantive hearing, but in the meantime the report remains secret.

See documents regarding Operation Tempura in the CNS Library

Related articles on CNS:

Former Cayman governor silent on Tempura probe

Ex-London cop speaks out on RCIPS probe secrecy

Governor wins legal review in Tempura secrets battle

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Competitive swimmer and tourist both die at sea

| 27/05/2013 | 4 Comments

(CNS) Updated 4:57pm: Police have now named the two men who died in separate water-related incidents this weekend. Pablo Jose Perez Iarza, a member of the Uruguay Special Olympic team, who was in the Cayman Islands to participate in the Butterfield 800 meter swim, was found dead in the ocean off Seven Mile Beach on Saturday afternoon during the race. Suspected of having a cardiac arrestwhile competing, the police confirmed Monday that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. In a second incident, Joseph Edward Johnson of Flagstaff, Arizona, who was visiting the Cayman Islands on vacation, drowned at Rum Point on Sunday when he got into difficulties in rough waters around the reef. An attempted daring rescue by the police helicopter unit was unable to save the man’s life.

Police said Iarza (41) was pulled from the water unconscious in the vicinity of the Avalon Condos on Saturday 25 May at about 4:25 pm after emergency personnel were dispatched to the scene. He was taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town, where he was pronounced dead at around 5:07pm.

Officials from the local Olympic Committee, Butterfield Bank (Cayman) Limited and the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association (CIASA) offered condolences to the family and friends of Iarza.

"This is a great loss for the Special Olympics movement and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his coach, his teammates and all of Special Olympics Uruguay," the leadership of Special Olympics International said in a statement Monday. SOCI Chairman Nick Freeland thanked medical personnel and said the precise cause of death was being determined by the hospital.

In a separete incident on Sunday, the emergency services received a report at 4:15pm that 64-year-old Joseph Edward Johnson had been missing in the water around Rum Point Drive for more than 25 minutes. A spokesperson for the RCIPS said Monday that a marine, air and land based rescue was immediately deployed. 

The police helicopter was the first unit to arrive at the location – some four minutes after the report, the RCIPS stated. The helicopter crew spotted the missing man on the reef in the Driftwood area, about 50 yards from shore. Marine and land based resources were a short distance away but due to the urgency of the situation, the helicopter crew made the tactical decision to hover and deplane one of their tactical flight officers onto the shore.

The helicopter hovered about three feet from the beach and the officer alighted. Together with two of the missing man’s friends, he went out into the water to bring him back to shore. The wave height at the time was around 2-3 feet and crashing across the reef, the police said as they described the daring rescue attempt.

In the meantime, the helicopter landed nearby and the second tactical flight officer attended the beach with the medical equipment and the AED. CPRwas carried out on the man until the arrival of the EMT unit a few minutes later. Johnson was then taken to the hospital in George Town, where he was pronounced dead at 5:40pm.

Police said that post mortem examinations would be held in due course.

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