Taylor had champagne on ice

| 25/09/2014

(CNS): The former governor of the Cayman Islands had intended to enjoy a quiet “bottle of bubbly” once McKeeva Bush had been arrested, the court heard Wednesday as the former premier’s defence attorney read from a number of emails between Duncan Taylor and an FCO official named in the court as just "Tony". When Geoffrey Cox QC continued to probe Manderson about his involvement in an alleged conspiracy, he revealed more emails that demonstrated Taylor’s eagerness to see the premier arrested before the 2013 election on the current as well as other charges that were pending but never brought against Bush for more alleged abuse of hisCIG credit card.

Cox read from the correspondence sent to the FCO updating "Tony" on the ongoing investigations where Taylor spoke about breaking open the champagne once Bush was arrested and charged. He had written that he believed “there would be a huge sigh of relief across the Cayman Islands” when he was eventually charged, at least in the credit card case.

As Cox probed Manderson over his part in the alleged political conspiracy to oust Bush from office, he pressed him about a meeting with the governor and the UDP Cabinet after his client’s arrest. However, Manderson persistently denied being present at any meeting where the governor had tried to persuade Bush’s then Cabinet colleagues to vote against him ahead of the no confidence motion in the LA following the arrest and after Bush had refused to step aside.

In the wake of the subsequent charges against Bush in March 2013, further emails from Taylor to "Tony" spoke about the governor’s desire to ensure that other charges which were expected to be added to the indictment against Bush were exposed.

These related to more alleged personal use of the card in New Orleans. Taylor told his FCO colleague that he “had tipped off” a local journalist so they could check the court records and write a report about the growing case against Bush.

Cox probed Manderson about his knowledge of the damning correspondence but the deputy governor continued to state that he did not know about the emails or the position that the governor was taking. The attorney described the governor’s actions as deliberately trying to “maximize the harm” that the arrest and charges were causing the serving premier as he accused the UK’s representative of disgraceful behavior. He suggested Taylor had deliberately sought to make matters worse for Bush and ensure his downfall.

The attorney also questioned Manderson over comments that Taylor made about the director of public prosecutions when it turned out that no further charges were brought against Bush. In his correspondence with "Tony" the then governor had implied that her office could have made some kind of an agreement and even “colluded with Bush’s attorneys” to prevent the extra charges being laid.

Manderson said that any urgency surrounding the arrest and charges against Bush was because everyone wanted the matter brought to a swift conclusion and resolved. He said the case had gripped the Cayman Islands.

“It was a sad day in our history,” he said, adding that there was a concern that the issue was dealt with as quickly as possible.

Manderson disagreed with Cox's suggestion that Taylor’s interference and intentions were politically motivated. The deputy governor described discussing various hypothetical scenarios with the governor about the possibleoutcomes of the investigations against Bush and the need for them to prepare and manage any eventuality relating to the case, whether he was charged before or after the election or not charged at all.

Under redirection Manderson later spoke about the constitutional role of the governor and his overall responsibility for good governance and that he was directly in charge of the police.

“The governor is responsible for good governance and when someone in high office is suspected of wrongdoing he had an obligation to see everything was done properly and progressed on both sides,” Manderson told the court.

As he concluded his evidence, Manderson said that he had been briefed on the eve of Bush’s arrest because he was acting as governor at the time. He had gone to a function the evening before and sat by the premier knowing he was to be arrested the next day, he said. However, despite knowing the premier and being friends for many years, he could not speak about it.

He described it as "a very, very difficult time".

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