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PM files $760,000 libel suit against TNT Mirror

PM files $760,000 libel suit against TNT Mirror


It will cost the TNT Mirror TT$760,000, an apology and a retraction of an article if they want to avoid a law suit by Dr Ralph Gonsalves for allegedly defamatory statements made in an article in the February 9, 2007 edition of their publication.

This according to a letter dated March 05 and addressed to the Editor of the TNT Mirror in Barataria, Trinidad, signed by Attorney-At-Law Anthony Bullock of Trinidad. Included in the figure quoted is TT$10,000 for legal fees incurred “to date.”{{more}}

The newspaper editor is told that the news article with the headline “Ramesh versus Gonsalves” repeated and republished to the world “grave allegations of criminality and misbehaviour in public office made by Mr. Ramesh Maharaj.”

The letter says the allegations are maliciously made, completely and absolutely false and constitute a serious defamatory attack on Prime Minister Dr Gonsalves personally and by way of his office as Prime Minister of a sovereign democratic state.

The letter claims five grounds on which the words printed are defamatory in nature including that Prime Minister Gonsalves acted illegally and/ or with a corrupt and dishonest motive in that he agreed to release a person convicted of drug offences in exchange for a campaign contribution.

Another meaning attributed to the words being objected to is that Prime Minister Dr Gonsalves used his office as head of the Mercy Committee to secure the release for a drug dealer for his contribution of EC$500,000 to Dr Gonsalves’ recent election campaign.

“As a result, the Honourable Prime Minister has been into odium and contempt and has suffered considerable damage to his reputation as the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, not only in St Vincent and the Grenadines but in Trinidad and Tobago, the wider OECS, Caricom and the world,” Bullock writes.

The TNT Mirror has 14 days from the date of the letter (March 5, 2007) to adhere to the demands in the letter otherwise face litigation.