The place – the “Mirage” above Hot and Spicy Restaurant on Albert Street. The date – last Friday evening. The occasion – dinner in honour of the victims of the Lindo Creek massacre. Some of us from the media sat at the very first table. As we discussed the libel writ for $200M by the Finance Minister against Juan Edghill, Travis Chase of HGPTV Nightly News of Channel 67 leaned over the table and said to me, “Freddie, how much libels you get?”
I didn’t give him a figure but said that he would be shocked to know some of the people who have sued me for libel. I described for Chase who some of these folks are – people who say they champion free speech, people who say they are against intolerance in the exercise of power, people who are public figures engaged in social activism, people who are engaged in open discussion about society in general, people who enjoy high prominence in society.
But once you publish even the most graphically known flaws or mistakes about them, they sue.
I am not naming names here. Many of the writs that I got in my thirty-year media career have never been made public so people do not know who the plaintiffs were, but they are from persons who enjoy high national status.
Of course, most Guyanese in and out of the territory would know that I chalked up a piece of history by being the only academic to be sued by a sitting head of government in the CARICOM region. I refer to President Jagdeo’s libel suit of 2009.
I didn’t want to bore Chase with the details of these past litigations but the one that stands out for me because of a certain ugly dimension was Dr. Hughley Hanoman when I wrote for the Stabroek News.
Editor-in-Chief David De Caires called me in and informed me that the paper’s lawyer, Miles Fitzpatrick would argue the case for the newspaper only but will not defend me. I wasn’t surprised. I knew Fitzpatrick, who I grew up seeing and hearing about his activism against the Burnham Government, didn’t like me because I remain, maybe up to this day as the only dark-skinned, working class human being who refused to kowtow to class and colour. If I ever write my memoir, Fitzpatrick will earn an entire chapter.
The subject around the dinner table returned to the libel against Edghill and I wanted to shout out that the Finance Minister should have gone for contempt of court rather than libel. But the ambience didn’t allow for such an exclamation. Here in this column, I could freely express myself.
I will stay away from any discussion of the Minister’s court action since it is sub judice but I could now openly claim that Minister Jordan should have gone for contempt of court proceedings against Edghill. I wished he had sought the kind of writ Edghill sought against me drafted by Senior Counsel, Ashton Chase.
I quote from the first page of Edghill’s affidavit; “That a writ of attachment be issued against the respondents for PENAL CONSEQUENCES,” (emphasis mine).
What Ashton Chase drew up was a document for contempt of court that requested the court to impose imprisonment. Edghill wanted me to go to jail. These are the kinds of people that once ruled and ruined this country and want to control it again. Their hypocrisy knows no limit.
In a letter of condemnation of me in the Wednesday, December 20, 2017 edition of this paper, Edghill wrote; “Mr. Kissoon’s attempt of driving me into silence has been unsuccessful, he should seek another target.”
One would not believe that the person who penned that letter moved to the courts to have me put in jail for my right to criticize. He complained that I cannot drive him into silence but he sought to drive me into Camp Street jail. Do the Guyanese people think Edghill and company including his leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, would change if they get back in power?
These people are irredeemable. The Jagdeoite cabal, including Donald Ramotar, has perpetuated a sickening hegemony on this country and to date, not even a vague apology has emerged from their pen and their voice.
Tomorrow, the Caribbean Court of Appeal will rule if Jagdeo can contest the presidency again. I find it mysterious that the Guyanese nation is gripped with anxiety over this court case. If it goes Jagdeo’s way, he will lead the PPP into the 2020 election but he, Edghill and the PPP’s school of hypocrites are feasting over their own delusions. Jagdeo, Edghill and their cohorts are remnants of the past.
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