QC: Case too slim to answer

| 08/10/2014

(CNS): The defence attorney representing McKeeva Bush said he had advised his client not to answer the charges of corruption and abuse because he believed there was no case against the former premier of the Cayman Islands and it should never have reached a court of law. Geoffrey Cox QC said the opposition leader had a right to silence, especially in a case which was as “slender and non-existent” as this one. That was why Bush had read a written statement to the police when he was arrested, refused to be interviewed, and why had not taken the witness stand during the trial. The lawyer said that Bush had been right all along about the witch hunt and in a free country he should not have to answer what the lawyer suggested were trumped up charges.

Cox said that Bush had never discussed the fact that some of the cash that he had withdrawn on his credit cards went into slot machines with senior civil servants because he knew his opponents would use it against him. While his client may have been foolish, Cox pressed home his position that Bush had done nothing criminal.

As a result, he made it clear that he had advised Bush not to answer the case, because “there was no case” and the crown had failed to prove anything criminal at all in the use of his CIG card. With witness after witness demonstrating Bush’s innocence, the lawyer said, there was nothing for his client to say from the witness stand.

Duncan Penny QC, the crown’s attorney who prosecuted the case against Bush for the alleged misuse of a government credit card and abuse of office, had focused on Bush’s silence and his decision not to take the stand. He questioned why the former premier was reluctant to address the jury on oath about his use of the government card as a line of credit for his gambling during business trips and personal visits overseas. 

But Cox said that in any democratic country with such a slim case, Bush did not have to prove his innocence and the truth had come from the mouths of the crown’s witnesses, who had said over and over again that there was no written policy regarding the credit cards and no formal ban on cash withdrawals.

The lawyer said Bush had been foolish to givehis opponents ammunition to use against him, referring to the gambling, and that was why he had not told the financial secretary, Kenneth Jefferson, or the deputy governor about how he used the cash as he knew what was happening. The lawyer said that the day after his arrest, when he called Jefferson to his house to discuss an independent and impartial review of credit card use in government by everyone, Bush already knew “what was cooking”, referring to the claims about a conspiracy to embarrass the then premier and tarnish the Cayman Islands.

“Knowing how he was being hunted, is it a surprise that he didn’t confide it?” Cox asked the jury rhetorically, as he justified why his client had not told anyone in government about the cash being used for slot machines. “He knew his political opponents would exploit it.”

Following the presentations from both the defense and the crown’s attorneys, all that remains is for the judge to direct the jury. Justice Mettyear is expected to begin those directions at 10am this morning (Wednesday 8 October) before sending out the four women and three men of the jury to deliberate on their verdict.

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Category: Crime

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