Lawyers for Rishatha Nicholls, dismissed former secretary to Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, have written to Eustace accusing him of defaming their client and demanding apologies and compensation.
The Law Firm of Marks & Marks, in two letters to Eustace on Nov. 12, said that Eustace defamed their clients in calls to “AM Hayhem” on Hot 97 radio on April 23 and 24, 2014.
The firm said that Eustace’s alleged statements on the radio programme on April 23 “meant and were understood to mean that Mrs. Rishatha Nicholls was involved in corruption and had committed the criminal act of theft, an offence that is punishable by imprisonment…
“By your false and malicious utterances, you have gravely injured our client’s character and reputation,” the firm said, and demanded, on behalf of Nicholls, that Eustace issues a public apology on the same radio programme and publish the apology in the local newspapers.
They are also demanding that Eustace fully retracts “these false and malicious statements and publicly admit that they are untrue.
“This retraction can be included in the public apology or published separately both on the said radio programme and local newspapers,” the letter to Eustace said.
The firm is also demanding that Eustace gives “a written undertaking to our client that you would not publish these false and malicious statements or any other defamatory statements against her” and that Eustace compensate Nicholls “in an amount to be agreed upon by our Chambers”.
“Failure to meet any of these demands within seven days hereof would result in legal proceedings being brought against you in the High Court of Justice,” the firm said.
The firm is also alleging that statements Eustace reportedly made on “AM Hayhem” on April 24 “meant and were understood to mean that our client had committed the criminal act of theft, an offence punishable by a term of imprisonment”, adding that the statements had damaged Nicholls’ character and reputation.
The firm is demanding, on Nicholls’ behalf, that a full retraction be published on Hot 97 and in the local newspapers “accepting that the words complained of are false and malicious”.
They are also demanding that Eustace makes a public apology on the “AM Mayhem” morning show print the apology in the local weekly newspapers and give “a written undertaking not to slander our client in any form in the future”.
The firm is also demanding that Eustace pays into the firm compensation in a sum to be approved by the firm.
“Failure to meet any of these demands would result in proceedings being instituted in the High Court of Justice in order to secure justice for our long suffering client,” the firm said.
The letters demanding apologies and compensation are the latest in a string of developments since Nicholls was employed as Eustace’s secretary from Aug. 1, 2001 to March 28, 2013, when she was fired without severance pay.
She brought a claim of unfair dismissal case before the Hearing Officer of the Department of Labour, who ruled that Nicholls was unfairly terminated.
Eustace appealed that ruling, and the Appeals Tribunal of the Department of Labour on March 14, 2014 upheld the decision of the Hearing Officer and ordered that Nicholls be compensated in the sum of EC$16,199.99, which Eustace paid.