A lawyer for opposition politician Benjamin “Ben” Exeter has written to radio personality Dwight “Bing” Joseph and Boom FM demanding an apology and compensation for statements that Joseph alleged made on the radio station last month.
Exeter, a member of the opposition New Democratic Party, was the party’s candidate in Central Leeward in the Dec. 9, general elections. Exeter, who is the holder of a licensed firearm,is due back in court on Monday, April 4, for trial on a charge that he had the gun at a public meeting. He pleaded not guilty to the charge.
In his letter on Tuesday, March 29, the lawyer, Israel Bruce, said that Boom FM in its “OMG” programme on Feb. 18, 2016, published “inaccurate and downright false information” about Exeter.
Bruce further said that Joseph, one of the hosts of the programme, knowing that his statements were false, “went on to recklessly make use of such statements without in the alternative go to the source to verify whether or not the information which you were about to publish was indeed false.
“My client is deeply hurt by your publication which when taken in context had a single motive, that being to make him out as being some who went to the function intended to commit a criminal offence in that he was armed with gun and further prepared with some 50 rounds of ammunition,” Bruce said.
He said Joseph and the staff of Boom FM had more than one opportunity to have checked his statement and seek to verify its truthfulness.
The lawyer detailed what he said were two opportunities that Joseph had to check the accuracy of the information — when other contributors to the programme questioned it.
“In the most irresponsible and reckless of ways he proceeded to confirm that his information was indeed correct. This implied that your station did seek to and did verify that Mr. Exeter had 50 rounds of ammunition on his person at the time of his arrest,” Bruce said.
“Not even this second opportunity suggesting that your staff double check your information moved you to take the journalistic, moral and legal high road. Instead Mr. Joseph used it to reconfirm that your information was indeed correct,” Bruce further said after detailing what he said was the second opportunity.
“In your false distribution and publication of the said words, your station Boom FM sought to disparage my client and further to damage the reputation of my client and as such he has suffered significant distress and embarrassment.
“We are further satisfied that your false statements were designed to further impact the current criminal matter in which my client is before the court involving the possession of the gun.
“There is every conviction with us that this was purely designed to impact negatively on Mr. Exeter, who is known to be involved in national politics, such that he is seen in the eyes of the voting public as being an undesirable and an unsuitable person for public office,” Bruce wrote.
The lawyer is demanding that Boom FM and Joseph each tender a public apology to Exeter and have the apology broadcast on the “OMG” programme on BOOM FM, at the same time of the day when the alleged statements were reportedly made.
He is also demanding that the station and Joseph each make a public apology to Exeter and have it published in a weekly newspaper circulated in St. Vincent and the Grenadines of the complainant’s choice. This is to be done within 14 days of the date of the letter.
Bruce is also demanding that the station and Joseph each compensate Exeter in the sum of EC$250,000, payable at the office of Bruce Law Chambers within 21 days of the date of the letter.
“Failure to so do can and will results in legal actions being taken against you in the court of Laws in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Bruce wrote.
Joseph told iWitness News on Tuesday that he has received Exeter’s letter and has forwarded it to his lawyer and reserves further comments on the development.