TAIPEI, Taiwan: – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has again successfully sued a radio station in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) even as the station struggles to pay him EC$430,000 (US$164,000) from a previous judgement
Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Judge Jennifer Remy on Monday struck out the defence of BDS Limited, owners of Nice Radio, and talk show host Matthew Thomas in a case filed on behalf of Gonsalves.
Gonsalves’ lawyer Grahame Bollers had claimed that Gonsalves had been slandered by words spoken by Thomas and broadcast on Nice Radio on February 22, 2007.
According to court documents, Thomas slandered Gonsalves while commenting on, among other things, the dismissal of an employee of the Eastern Caribbean Group of Companies, Gonsalves’ visit to a monastery in Trinidad, Gonsalves’ pardoning of a drug felon, and the issuing of a diplomatic passport.
Bollers claimed that Gonsalves had been “gravely injured in reputation as a [b]arrister-at-law and [s]olicitor in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court as well as his office as Prime Minister”.
The claim also said that Gonsalves had been “brought into public scandal, contempt and ridicule and has suffered loss and damage”.
Dr. Linton Lewis, who is also chairman of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), appeared on behalf of the defendant.
He argued that the statements were made in the exercise of freedom of speech on the conduct of Gonsalves in his capacity as leader of the “Unity Labour Political Party”, as Prime Minister and Head of Cabinet of the government of SVG.
However, Justice Remy, in an 18-page judgement, ruled that the defendants were “liable jointly and severally to the Claimant for damages to be assessed”.
She also granted an injunction preventing the defendant or any other person “from further speaking or publishing the said or similar words defamatory of the Claimant”.
Additionally, the judge “prescribed costs to the Claimant based on the quantum of damages awarded”.
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court last year November ordered Nice Radio and host of the NDP New Times programme Eduardo G. Lynch to pay a total about EC$430,000 (US$164,122) for defaming Gonsalves’ character.
Lynch had accused Gonsalves of using state funds to pay for a family trip to the Vatican to see Pope John Paul II.
Gonsalves said that the judgment should be a lesson to those who try to destroy his character:
“Don’t run a campaign against me based on lies and falsehoods which damage my character. I will take action,” he told reporters.
He had said that he intended to give the money to charity.
Nice Radio has since launched a fund asking listeners to donate to its efforts to raise the money’s even as it appeals to the Privy Council in London.