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Jack to pay in defamation claim

Thursday, May 8 2014

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Jack Warner...
Jack Warner...

INDEPENDENT Liberal Party leader, Jack Warner, has accepted liability in the defamation claim against him brought by Chaguanas councillor Faaiq Mohammed.

Warner’s position was relayed to Justice Vasheist Kokaram at a hearing at the Port-of-Spain High Court, yesterday, where the judge also struck out several portions of affidavits filed by both men, and their witnesses.

Mohammed, a 25-year-old student of international relations at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, filed the action in November last year, after he complained of defamatory comments made by the ILP leader, earlier in November, last year, after Mohammed voted for the United National Congress’ candidate for presiding officer at the first meeting of the Chaguanas Borough Corporation.

Mohammed was eventually expelled from the ILP.

Warner’s lawyer, Om Lalla, told Kokaram his client’s position was relayed to Mohammed’s legal counsel, and all that remains was the quantum of damages to be paid to Mohammed as neither side could arrive at a figure at yesterday’s hearing.

Lawyers representing both men have indicated that they will meet within the month, to hold discussions, to arrive at an agreed figure.

Lalla said his client wanted to bring the matter to an end.

Kokaram has advised that the issue of the quantum of compensation can be done under the cover of confidentiality.

Both sides are to return to court on May 29, at which time they will inform the judge of the outcome of the discussions on compensation.

In default of any agreement being made, Kokaram has given directions for the filing of submissions on the issue of quantum of damages, and parties will return to court on June 9.

At yesterday’s hearing, Kokaram also dealt with evidential objections filed by attorneys representing both Mohammed and Warner, striking out substantial portions of both men’s witness statements and evidence submitted by Warner’s witnesses.

In his ruling the judge struck out the evidence on the basis of irrelevance and lacking in probative value.

In his defamation claim, Mohammed also called for an apology from Warner and demanded payment of a sum in damages “to demonstrate the baselessness of the allegations, and to compensate Mohammed for the injury to his reputation and distress caused by Warner’s statements.”

Representing Mohammed are Senior Counsel Avory Sinanan, Kelvin Ramkissoon and Nizam Saladeen.

In his lawsuit, Mohammed also claimed that his vote incurred Warner’s ire, and at several subsequent press conferences and in conversations with the media, Warner castigated Mohammed and publicly accused him of “selling out to the UNC.”

He also alleged that Warner engaged “in an exercise and campaign of public defamation and humiliation of him” by repeatedly broadcasting defamatory words against him in the Chaguanas community.

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