Jun 10, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO), Roxanne Myers, has initiated legal proceeding against attorney-at-law and People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Member of Parliament (MP), Sanjeev Datadin, and online media entity, Newsroom (Guyana), claiming in excess of $150M in damages for libel.
According to court documents drafted by her lawyer, Nigel Hughes, and seen by this newspaper, the DCEO is suing for$150M in damages in relation to a news interview done on March 6, 2020 and published by Newsroom on that same date.
According to Myers, in that interview, Datadin used words to the effect that, “the Deputy CEO has been saying that no one is allowed to serve any orders” and the “DCEO is still refusing to let anyone into the building and specifically refusing to allow the marshals in to serve” which was meant to convey that she in effect acted illegally and corruptly in the performance of her duties and barred court marshals from serving legal documents of operatives of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
“The defendants published the official designation of the claimant as one who acted illegally, corruptly, ultra vires in her capacity as Deputy Chief Elections Officer as it pertains to the March 2, 2020 elections,” Myers said in the Statement of Claim (SOC) matter.
Based on the published assertions of the lawyer, Myers said too that it is safe to say that Datadin as well as Newsroom intended to convey to the public that she was acting above the law, having “arrogated or attempting to arrogate herself jurisdiction or influence the outcome of the of the Region Four elections result and control or otherwise direct Marshals of the Supreme Court of Guyana.”
In addition, the document noted that the willful malice of this allegation is to be found in the failure of the defendants (Datadin, Newsroom) to contact the claimant (Myers) and give her an opportunity to exonerate herself.
Specifically, it noted that Newsroom never put the allegation to her or invited her to counter the utterances of the attorney, who now sits as a MP for the ruling PPP/C party.
Further, Myers contends that given Datadin’s lack of experience of the processes and procedures of the Guyana Elections Commission in the conduct of the Regional and General Elections,” it was reckless for the defendants to publish those slanderous statements in the context of such advertised ignorance.”
Additionally, the DCEO noted that the gravity of the allegations made by the defendants constitutes an intention to not allow her the opportunity to defend herself or “at the very minimum educate Datadin on the role, if any, that she played on the day, which he made the slanderous/defamatory statements.”
“The defendants falsely and maliciously published the aforesaid slander/defamation. The words contained in the impugned interview expressly referred and were understood to refer to the claimant… The words were untrue, undiluted and penned in a malicious falsehood,” the document added, while noting that Myers denies obstructing or otherwise impeding the court Marshals in the functions of their duties on March 6, 2020.
She denies further ever denying access to anyone lawfully entitled to be present at the GECOM command centre at Ashmin’s building located at High Street, Georgetown on March 6, 2020.
In this regard, Myers said that the interview, which was published on the Newsroom website, as well as the company’s Facebook page portrayed a false narrative that she is was dishonest, of questionable character, devoid of integrity and unfit for the office she holds.
Taking all of the above into consideration, the DCEO has asked the Court several reliefs, in addition to the more than $150M in damages. The claimant has requested an injunction that will prevent the defendant from making any further publication; a retraction/apology for the false, malicious and defamatory statements, as well as a mandatory injunction, which will prevent the online news outfit from publishing similar statements.
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