Trinidad Express / Hanif Nazim Baksh, the ceo of A&V Oil and Gas Ltd, on Wednesday filed a claim for libel against Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
The lawsuit is linked to alleged defamatory statements made in two speeches made by Persad-Bissessar at United National Congress (UNC) meetings on September 10 and September 18.
The claim is also in respect of alleged defamatory statements published on Facebook, YouTube and social media.
Persad-Bissessar had quoted a Petrotrin internal audit, which she said stated Petrotrin has been billed by A&V for oil that was never produced, amounting to some $80 million.
Persad-Bissessar claimed Baksh was a close friend of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and also a financier of the People’s National Movement (PNM).
In the pre-action protocol letter dated September 15, Persad-Bissessar was advised that to avoid the commencement of legal proceedings, she has until 4 p.m. on Monday to give to Baksh and A&V in writing “a full and unequivocal retraction and apology in terms to be approved by Baksh and A&V” and such an apology and retraction must be published with the same prominence in which the defamatory words were published.
– Persad-Bissessar must also “give a written undertaking not to publish or re-publish any of the defamatory words or similar defamatory words against Baksh and A&V”.
– A video recording of the UNC’s political meeting must also be removed from the party’s Facebook page, as well as Persad-Bissessar’s speaking note on the issue.
– Persad-Bissessar must also “make an offer to pay to Baksh and A&V as compensation, the pecuniary loss and damage they suffered and continue to suffer as a result of the publication of the defamatory words” and “give a written undertaking to pay to Baksh and A&V the legal costs incurred by them as a result of the publication of the defamatory words”.
However, Persad-Bissessar answered the lawsuit threat, defending her decision to raise the matter in the public domain.
Persad-Bissessar said that as Opposition Leader, she had a duty to raise matters in the public interest and nothing she said was defamatory.
However, A&V Oil and Gas submitted in its lawsuit filed on Wednesday that there was no legal or factual; basis for the defences put forward by Persad-Bissessar.
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