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Colin Graham’s Facebook post libellous, says judge

Colin Graham’s Facebook post libellous, says judge

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A statement made on Facebook on Monday by New Democratic Party (NDP) activist and Hot 97.1 FM radio disc jockey Colin ‘Hitman’ Graham is said to be libellous and defamatory.

“It imputes that the judge is biased and has allowed one party in a matter on which he was called upon to adjudicate to interfere{{more}} with his impartiality,” said a judge who read the statement.

Graham, on Facebook, voiced his displeasure over what he considered as a prediction made by lawyer Anthony Astaphan on the outcome of the application filed by the Government to have the NDP’s election petitions thrown out.

Shortly after the decision was handed down at the High Court in Kingstown, Graham posted, “So wait did Mr Ass-to-fan really know ahead of time what Justice Cottle ruling was going to be???….His comments on radio days before the ruling were….it could be a case of win, lose or DRAW…..These were his words….if people follow the judgement properly you would clearly understand what is going on here…..did Mr Ass-to-fan and others really have a hand in this judgement (hence the reason it to (sic) so long) and knew just what it was going to be beforehand????”

He added, “….are these guys all playing Vincentians for fools???? They are continuing to add fuel to fire….and if they continue it will soon explode!!”

Graham has since apologized to Justice Brian Cottle and senior counsel Anthony Astaphan over the post, but another judge, with whom SEARCHLIGHT spoke, said that Graham’s words are clear.

“There is no ambiguity. The judge was mentioned by name. The words go to the judge’s integrity, the very thing on which he relies to hold his post. A judge is the guardian of the rule of law and the constitution. He is to ensure that no one is denied a fair hearing. His (Graham’s) statement, yes, it’s obviously defamatory. Libellous, because it is in written form and published,” said the experienced judge, under condition of anonymity.

The judge added that the comments bring the judiciary and, by extension, the entire legal system into disrepute and are designed to lower the judge in the esteem of others, as it attacks his character, disparages him and injures his reputation by statements which are patently untrue and which cannot be proven.

“There was no draw in the matter. My understanding from what I have heard (which may not be correct) is that he (Justice Cottle) simply said he did not have jurisdiction to deal with the matter in chambers. The application ought to have been made in open court. Once the petition is listed, the other side will take a point in limine and the application will be granted then. There was absolutely no draw.”

The judge added that while Graham may attempt to hide behind fair comment on a matter of public interest, he has not stated honestly what the judge has done.

“It will not stand. There is clearly a malicious intent.”

It is not certain if the persons at the centre of Graham’s comments will take further action. (LC)

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