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Will Eustace, Cummings accept PM’s offer?

Will Eustace, Cummings accept PM’s offer?

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It is still left to be seen whether two members of the Opposition will accept an offer made by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves{{more}} to discontinue cases in which he has judgements against them.

In an interview yesterday, Grahame Bollers, lawyer for Gonsalves, told SEARCHLIGHT that he will be writing this week to the lawyers for Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace and Member for West Kingstown Daniel Cummings,with the Prime Minister’s offer to

discontinue.

However, it is uncertain whether the opposition parliamentarians will accept the Prime Minister’s offers.

The judgement against Eustace, which Gonsalves is willing to set aside, was entered on November 7, 2011, by Justice Gertel Thom and was in relation to Claim 98 of 2010.

The Prime Minister’s case was brought in relation to a series of radio advertisements which were repeatedly broadcast on Nice Radio by the New Democratic Party (NDP) between February 9 and 24, 2010. The advertisements made reference to drug trafficking, money laundering, encouragement of the drug trade and rape.

In her judgement, Thom made an order that an assessment for damages was to be made within three months.

SEARCHLIGHT contacted the Leader of the Opposition yesterday, and he was adamant that the matter had not yet been settled.

Eustace said that the counter-claim which he had filed had not yet been settled. When the counter-claim came up for hearing in court yesterday, it was adjourned to February 1, to allow the parties to decide how they intend to proceed in light of the Prime Minister’s offer.

Cummings on the other hand told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday that while he has already discussed his matter with his lawyer, he does not wish to comment.

“I am not going to comment at this stage. In the process of time, my lawyers will make a statement,” he said.

The judgement against the Member for West Kingstown was entered on April 16, 2008.

The claim form in that case states that on June 9, 2006 on Nice Radio, Cummings said “How could the Prime Minister justify every other trip overseas. Every other trip, his wife and children going to all parts, corners of the world, at our expense, most of the time.”

SEARCHLIGHT understands that lawyers for Cummings have already lost three appeals in that matter.

Bollers told SEARCHLIGHT that he has already filed an application for assesment of damages in relation to the Cummings matter. The assessment came before Master V. Georgis Taylor-Alexander on November 16, 2011, and Cummings was given until December 5, 2011 to file submissions in response to submissions by the Prime Minister, who is asking for damages of $140,000 and interest from 2006.

A ruling on damages was expected to be given on February 20, 2012. However, lawyers for Cummings have filed another appeal to the Court of Appeal to have the judgement set aside.

Bollers said, based on instructions from the PM, he will discontinue the cases, once the defendants agree this is what they want.

“Once they accept his offer, we will discontinue,” Bollers said.

“We see what their responses are.”

Last Wednesday evening, just before debate on the 2012 Budget wrapped up for the day, the Prime Minister announced to the nation that he intended to instruct his lawyers not to proceed with High Court judgments in his favour, in separate defamation suits against Eustace and Cummings.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT after the adjournment, Gonsalves said he decided to discontinue with the cases because he wanted to make a personal gesture in the efforts towards national reconciliation.

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