Former Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace, left, and his former secretary, Rishatha Nicholls. (IWN file photos)

The High Court ruled on Thursday that former opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, defamed his former secretary, Rishatha Nicholls, in statements he made about her on radio on April 23 and 24, 2014, just under a year after firing her.

Nicholls welcomed the decision of the court, telling iWitness News, “It is basic. It is something I expected because it would not have gone any other way. It is more or less the same issue that came out of the Labour Department. So I didn’t expect it to have gone any other way else.”

Eustace, who has been Member of Parliament or East Kingstown since 1998, fired Nicholls in March 2013, after almost 12 years as his secretary.

She brought a claim of unfair dismissal 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.

In the letter of dismissal, Eustace said he was firing Nicholls for failure to write up a vote book, the disappearance of monies donated to political activist Elwardo “E.G.” Lynch, and loss of confidence.

Eustace was sued after he failed to comply with the demands of the law firm of Marks & Marks, which in two letters to him on Nov. 12, 2014, said that Eustace defamed their clients in calls to “AM Mayhem” on Hot 97 radio on April 23 and 24, 2014.

The firm said that Eustace’s 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 issue a public apology on the same radio programme and publish the apology in the local newspapers.

They also demanded that Eustace fully retract “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 also demanded that Eustace give “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.

Asked on Thursday if she thought that her reputation has been reinstated as a result of the court ruling, Nicholls told iWitness News:

“It gives me some relief, more or less, that the law sat down and actually looked at the issue in its entirety and realised that, more or less, there was not an offence that was committed on my part.

“So I respect the fact that I can honour due process and live by the law and do what is right. So it is not a matter of — I would never be able to be freely innocent in terms of my peace as before. I understand and recognise that. But the thing is that it gives more relief that all of that burden is past because, at least, I have something from the law that I could now say to people, that look, I did not do something.

“So this is what it is: you went to court, you made sure you faced your opponent, give him his entire freedom to defend himself and to let the court know what and what, which he couldn’t do, and know now that I would have gotten my justice, this is mine.”

Meanwhile, Maia Eustace, Mr. Eustace’s daughter and member of his legal team, told iWitness News separately on Thursday: “We respect that the court has ruled. We are disappointed but resolute. Mr. Eustace and the legal team shall review the court’s judgment and take instructions from Mr. Eustace as regards our next steps.”

According to Thursday’s judgement, parties will now have to discuss the level of compensation that Nicholls will receive – if Mr. Eustace does not appeal the ruling.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Wow! They got one politician showing arrogance but why do they ignore an even more powerful politician that does even worse. Not long ago there was another arrogant politician from an arrogant political family that told the nation that a young model was mentally incompetent […]
    Strange that nothing happens to this hateful corrupt politician!

    I find it more insane when you have a politician that uses failed economic policy causing the nation to get poorer and poorer losing more and more jobs but nevertheless he continues the same disaster policy. Look up the definition of “insanity” and ask yourself if it shouldn’t be that politician that shouldn’t be put in a mental institution.
    Unfortunately, ULP politicians can normally get away with anything…only those in the Opposition will be accountable, as this article proves.

    • Sadly, I can think of someone far worse and the people seem to have wanted him as Prime Minister. If we are to believe the vote.

  2. Who lied to the Nation?.0

    Who lied to the Nation still lingers, for no court can judge the intent of the heart. Some one must come out and speak the truth.

    The question I am asking (1) Is the alledge misappropriation of fund been settled , Did consent given to used funds been settled, or the mispresentation of facts are it settled?

    Very unfortunate that this episode never settled outside the of the law. Winning a legal case does not prove one right or wrong. There are a lot of men and women in prison, hangs or confine to instritutions who are innocent or guilty.

    Two things cannot change Truth and Lie regardless how we try to twist them.

    No man can destroy the truth and a lie will always be lie regardless who may argues and win in the eyes of man, but your conscience will always guilty of it, and so that burden will always be there with you. The court does not erase a lie from a man only he she will have to come clean and free themselves of it. Both parties must clear the air.
    The conscience of man will always be sour with or sour by a Lie, regardless who they may convince by fine talks ,legal or technicality. Lie cannot automatic turn into truth. It only comes from one 💓 Heart.
    “The heart bear all thing,” “From abundance of heart mouth speaks”
    “Deceit lie in the heart” Psa 51:17, 12: 20
    “The Lord look at the 💓 heart” 1Sam. 16: 7

  3. IF YOU WOULD PLEASE PARDON ME ….

    Sic. C., Mr. Arnhim Eustace was Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Eustace\-Cato was the third person to serve as Prime Minister of SVG. Please at least acknowledge the historical record of this country and of former Prime Minster Arnhim Eustace. Give Jack his Jacket. What is good for the Goose, IS good for the Gander. QED
    Yours very sincerely
    Steve Huggins
    Amateur local historian, SVG

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