KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb. 25, IWN – Two cheques, totalling $206,122.37, were made out to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves on Monday, as full payment for a defamation judgement against Nice Radio.
“All the money was paid, but we paid in two tranches. The first tranche [was] $169,880 [and] the other one was $36,242.37 — somewhere there,” social activist Junior Bacchus told I-Witness News on Monday.
The money was paid on the day BDS Ltd., owners of Nice Radio, and Gonsalves’ lawyers were to return to court with the treat of receivership hanging over the station, which is widely regarded as closely aligned to the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP)
The judgement resulted from comments that Eduardo “E.G” Lynch, then host of the NDP’s “New Times” programme, made about Gonsalves almost 10 years ago.
Lynch had commented about the financing of a trip to Rome for Gonsalves and members his family, including his mother, who is now 93.
Gonsalves had said that the money from the lawsuit will be donated to charity, a point he reiterated on Monday.
He said that had he not made that commitment, he would have invested it in the beleaguered Building & Loan Association.
“If I didn’t have to give charity this $200,000 I am getting, … I would have put all of it inside of Building & Loan. But, the next one, I will put it there — the next ones, because there are several others,” he said in reference to pending judgements in other lawsuits he brought against Nice Radio.
Bacchus and lawyer Kay Bacchus-Browne, along with pharmacist Matthew Thomas, have led the Save Nice Radio Appeal, a campaign launched four months ago, that raised the money through a series of radiothrons.
Vincentians at home and in the diaspora, and other listeners to Nice Radio, contributed to the effort to raise the money.
Bacchus told I-Witness News on Sunday that Vincentians “felt there was a need to protect democracy.
“We see the demise of Nice Radio as a treat to democracy and they came forward, putting their money where their mouth is. To do this in this kind of economy, at this time, within four and a half months, is really a tribute to our people. I am really pleased by it,” Bacchus further said.
“It is really amazing that the Vincentian public can be so receptive in protecting democracy. Sometimes, we are all critical of people for not doing enough. But, this time, Vincentians put their money where their mouth is,” he said.