ST. VINCENT: – The High Court has struck out the defence of talk show host Junior Bacchus and BDS Limited, owners of Nice Radio, in a defamation case brought against them by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
The judgement stems from statements Bacchus made last year on Nice Radio.
Bacchus had commented about the alleged ownership of state lands by Gonsalves, his wife, and the chairman of National Properties Limited, a state-owned company. (Go to the homepage to subscribe to I Witness-News)
“This serious allegation was presented as a fact and there is no indication in the defence that any steps were taken to verify his information or that any comment was sought from the claimant,” Master Cheryl Mathurin said in a written judgement.
She further said there was no indication that the defendants tried to verify ownership of land by searching at the Land Registry.
“… [T]the tone of the article is not investigative and does not raise questions as to if and how the claimant came to own state lands, as alleged. There is no question anywhere that there was any urgency in informing the public of this matter,” the judgement said.
“In the premises, having examined the pleadings of the defendants, I conclude that they have no prospect of establishing that they acted in accordance with the tenets of responsible journalism or that they had a duty to broadcast to the public and that the public had an interest in receiving the broadcast,” the judgement further said.
“In conclusion, I find that the defendants have no prospect of succeeding on the defences pleaded, of fair comments and qualified privilege and that these defences are incurably bad and, as such, the defences are struck out with cost to the claimant to be accessed upon application,” it further stated.
PM: Don’t slander me
“I always tell fellas don’t go about and just slander me so,” Gonsalves said at a media briefing on Monday, Oct. 18.
“And, worst of all, when you bring in [my] family. Just leave me alone with these things,” said Gonsalves who has successfully sued other Nice Radio talk show hosts. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)
“Don’t judge me on the basis of how you all operate — just being willy-nilly. No. I don’t own any state lands. And if I were to own any state lands, it wouldn’t be surreptitiously. It would be through proper procedure. I own no state lands. And you hear what the judge said: they have no prospect of establishing that they acted in accordance with the tenets of responsible journalism. The fellas just lie; just lie. It is as though there is a drug going abroad with some people, called Liagra. You get it to keep you permanently lying, when it comes to Ralph. So, this is what happens. This is what happens,” Gonsalves said.