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Cayman Islands Leader Sues Newspaper

January 17, 2005

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (AP) _ The Cayman Islands government leader has sued a newspaper, alleging libel following the publication of an anonymous letter insinuating the government had awarded him a lucrative contract, the publisher said Monday.

The charges stem from a letter to the editor published Nov. 17 by Cayman Net News in which the author insinuated government leader McKeeva Bush was behind MC Restoration, a locally registered company that had been awarded a $10.7 million debris-removal contract following Hurricane Ivan.

Seeking damages, Bush filed suit against the newspaper and its publisher, Desmond Seales, who said he received the writ of summons Monday. Seales declined further comment.

In September, Hurricane Ivan tore through the main island of the British Caribbean territory of 43,000 residents, destroyed 70 percent of buildings and damaged many hotels, causing more than $3 billion in damages.

The dollar amount of damage in the islands _ a wealthy offshore financial center with high property values _ was higher than in other Caribbean countries that suffered similar hurricane destruction.

In the letter, the anonymous author played with words, saying the ``Mc″ in McKeeva was an abbreviation for ``Mac,″ which made him think of the song ``Mack the Knife,″ the leader of a den of thieves celebrated in theater.

``Something is starting to stink here. The contractors in Cayman have a right to demand explanations,″ the letter stated.

As a result, the lawsuit said, Bush’s ``personal and professional reputation has been severely damaged, and he has suffered great hurt and embarrassment.″

In a Dec. 15 article, Cayman Net News investigated MC Restoration stockholders. Bush was not mentioned by name, but ``a leading figure in the Cayman Islands government and ruling party is known to have met with the principals of MC Restoration on several occasions,″ the article said.

MC Restoration major stockholder Tom Moffitt, in a Jan. 14 Cayman Net News article, denied any Cayman Islander was a stockholder. Moffitt is a U.S. citizen.


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