Mac case behind closed doors

| 08/09/2014

(CNS): Cayman’s former leader, McKeeva Bush, answered his bail Monday when he appeared in the dock at the Grand Court in anticipation of his trial on corruption charges. Despite the arrival of the jury pool, the judge released them shortly after the session began explaining that there were several issues to be resolved between the crown and Bush’s legal teams before a panel could be selected. Following the jury dismissal Bush was formally arraigned and pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of misconduct in public office and breach of trust relating to the use of his government credit card between July 2009 and March 2010, before the case went behind closed doors.

Bush is accused of using his government issued credit card for personal benefit over the period in question at hotels and casinos in Florida, Las Vegas and the Bahamas. The crown claims that Bush spent or withdrew some $50,000 for personal use over eight months when he was traveling overseas and caused government to incur fees of around $500.

The opposition leader and former premier denied all eleven counts read out in the court before the proceedings were closed and the judge placed a formal gag order on reporting of the ongoing discussions until the case opens before a jury.

The trial, which is now expected to begin in earnest towards the end of the week, will open against the backdrop of questions in government regarding the abuse and misuse of credit cards held by civil servants and government ministers, past and present. Bush has stated categorically over the last few months that he has done nothing wrong and used his card for legitimate purposes as the leader of the country at the time.

Bush is represented by leading British QC, Geoffrey Cox, who is also a serving member of the UK parliament as well as a ‘big wig’ on the international legal stage. Meanwhile, the crown has also gone to the UK for its lead prosecutor. Duncan Penny was made a QC just this year but already has a reputation as an expert in corruption. The case is being presided over by visiting UK judge Justice Michael Mettyear.

Bush (58) is the  longest-serving member of the Legislative Assembly, representing the district of West Bay for around 30 years. He was arrested in relation to these allegations in December 2012 and after refusing to resign he was ousted from the office of premier when former members of his then UDP Cabinet sided with the the opposition leader at the time in a no confidence motion.

Despite the circumstances, Bush pressed on with his political career and crossed the floor to the opposition benches with three members of his former UDP Team, Mike Adam, Captain Eugene Ebanks and Elio Solomon. He was charged several months later in March 2013 just ahead of Nomination Day for the 2013 General Election. The now opposition leader has maintained that the investigations and charges against him were all designed to ensure he lost that election by the former governor, Duncan Taylor.

While Bush easily held on to his own seat, Tara Rivers, now the education minister, who was running on the C4C ticket, took the second seat in the district. Although the UDP leader still managed to carry Ebanks and new party member Bernie Bush, he was unable to secure any further seats in any other district for the party. While the UDP was broken by the allegations and subsequent fallout, only Juliana O’Connor-Connolly survived from the former UDP government, as Bush’s former district colleagues Rolston Anglin and Cline Glidden were unable to hold on to their West Bay seats when they ran as candidates under the new People’s National Alliance banner.  In Bodden Town, Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour also lost their seats after just one term in office.

Since the election the UDP announced a name change to the Cayman Democratic Party but there has been little development of the new party structure as Bush’s attention as opposition and party leader appears to have been largely diverted by the legal case. 

See more on the legal teams on CNS later.

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Category: Crime

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