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Jomo Thomas, left, and  Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in September 2013. (IWN photo)
Jomo Thomas, left, and Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in September 2013. (IWN photo)
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KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent (CMC) — Lawyers representing Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves are seeking half a million dollars in damages from the former speaker of the Parliament, Jomo Thomas, after claiming that he had libelled their client in his weekly newspaper column.

The lawyers wrote to Thomas, who is also an attorney, claiming that in his “Plain Talk” column on Aug. 13, and appearing in the Vincentian newspaper, Thomas “falsely and maliciously published” an article that contained “defamatory words”.

The column in question dealt with the protest outside the Parliament on Aug. 5, when Gonsalves was hit on the head with a missile and had to be flown to Barbados for further medical treatment.

The lawyers claimed that by using the alleged defamatory words, the author was suggesting that their client had committed “misbehaviour in public office, an offence punishable by imprisonment and /or civil sanction and damages.

“Further, and additionally you meant and were taken to mean that he had abused his office to persecute people and deny them their legal rights”.

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The lawyers claim that as a result, the reputation of their client, “who has had an impeccable record of service as a barrister at law for 40 years, an elected representative for over 27 years and as Prime Minister for over 20 years, the longest serving Prime Minister, ever, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. You have caused my client severe damage and loss”.

The lawyers said they were seeking EC$200,000 in damages and EC$50,000 in legal fees from Thomas and the publishers within a four week period, adding that failure to do so would result in legal proceedings being instituted.

In addition, the lawyers are also seeking EC$200,000 from Thomas after his column appeared in the online publication, iWitness News, on Aug. 13.

They said that online publication later removed the article after their client had telephoned the publisher and brought “to his attention the defamatory publication.

“Nevertheless it had been viewed by…over 65,000 readers,” the pre action protocol letter noted.

The lawyers said they are seeking the same level of financial compensation and has given the former speaker, who once contested a general election on behalf of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP), under Gonsalves’ leadership, the same four-week period to make the payment.

The lawyers said that their client “has considered, not to pursue any claim, at this time, against” the publisher and the online publication “in all circumstances of this matter”.

14 replies on “PM seeking half a million dollars in damages from former Speaker”

  1. Does this not happen in Parliment all the time..then its laughed off,one against the other why sue now ..?

  2. Monica A Rosa says:

    Don’t pm have enough money. Where will homo Thomas get that kind of money. You all stop this poppy show talk. Down in saint Vincent. Down there is only He say and they say. Have mercy on you all.

  3. Reincarnation says:

    This reminds me of another Red Socialist in history […] In those days that dictator had full control of the courts and sent people and reporters critical of his actions to the Gulag. […]

  4. The rules of parliamentary privilege allow elected members to air views that would be considered defamatory if uttered in public. Why? In the interest of parliamentary debate and the absolute freedom of speech, something allowed by the Constitution and laws of SVG but regulated when it comes to non-Parliamentary debate.

    You can call your opponent a liar and an thief in Parliament and may be sanctioned or silenced by the Speaker for doing so but cannot be sued in a court of law for the uttering these words.

    If you say the same on the street outside the Parliament you can be sued to the skies.T

  5. Ralph is trying to silence opposition in SVG. This is nothing but a Starlinist, Mousallini and Mackavillian approach to governing this country

  6. What is happening down in St. Vincent? Bombastic Ralph trying to extort again! He is an officious ‘little’ man who has an over-inflated sense of importance and thinks he can run a dynasty in St. Vincent. Ralph, I’m not one to put myself in other people’s internal affairs, but “d people dem tiad a yuh – go siddung one side” and allow our sister Vincentians to breathe. I hope Kay Baptiste Bacchas will free out oppressed brothers and sisters.

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