Feb 13, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – The High Court has awarded Winston Brassington, former Executive Director of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), a government owned investment company, $20M in a libel suit he brought against Kaieteur News.
The case is related to a series of lawsuits filed by the former NICIL Head over the “Dem Boys Seh” articles, which he claims, contained offensive and defamatory content against him.
According to the claim, the reference in the article to “that fat crook Brazzy” in the satirical column of the newspaper meant and was understood to mean that the newspaper and its editor sought to convey that he, as NICIL’s head was “dishonest, had been guilty of criminal activity and corrupt practices” in the conduct of his work.
The projects included the award of a road construction contract for US$18M in the first phase of the Amaila Falls Hydro Project, the Pradoville Two Housing Project, East Coast Demerara, and the sale of the state-owned Sanata Textile Complex.
Kaieteur News, its publisher Glenn Lall, and its former Editor-in-Chief, Adam Harris, were all listed as defendants in the matter.
In response to the lawsuit, the defendants had through their lawyer, Nigel Hughes, pleaded justification and fair comment. However, in the ruling delivered electronically by Justice Singh noted that Lall and Harris insisted on asserting the truth of the libel by pleading a defence of justification and of fair comment despite there being no factual basis for such a defence.
Additionally, the judge noted Mr. Lall acknowledged that the Plaintiff requested a retraction, stating “I did receive a letter from the Plaintiff asking for a retraction but noted that the defendants refused to retract the libel.”
“The defendants have not apologised or expressed any regret over the publication of the libel,” Brassington added.
Given the circumstances, Justice Singh outlined $10M was assessed for aggravated damages.
Further, the Court awarded the sum of $10M damages for defamation to Brassington against the defendants jointly and severally.
The Court also awarded with interest on the said award at the rate of 6% per annum from July 30, 2014 to February 12, 2021 and 4% per annum thereafter, until fully paid in addition to another $1M as costs to the plaintiff against the defendants jointly and severally.
In his judgment, Justice Singh outlined too, that in assessing the appropriate quantum of damages in the case, the Court took into consideration that the libel attacked the plaintiff’s personal integrity and professional reputation; the plaintiff was a very public figure serving in an office that essentially; handled matters of public concern; this indeed makes the libel very grave.
Added to this, the Court considered the nature of the libel was bound to cause distress, hurt and humiliation of Brassington.
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