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Prakash ordered to pay damages to brother

News day / In a preamble to delivering the ruling, CJ Archie noted while some may say that politics had a morality of its own, freedom of speech was not a complete licence.

He also noted that in society, often times people take the liberty to make ‘toxic, injurious, and downright irresponsible’ statements.

Ramadhar, former COP chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan and founding member Iqbal Hydal were in December 2015, ordered to pay specific sums to Kishore Ramadhar (Prakash’s brother), Rudy Hanamji and Satu Ann Ramcharan. In his ruling, Justice Vasheist Kokaram held that the slanderous statements, went beyond the boundaries of responsible speech and based on facts, which were simply not true.

“It was a collateral and unrelated attack on the claimants with the intention of bolstering his position as leader of the party and the direction of the party at the expense of the claimants reputation,” Kokaram had ruled.

Only Ramadhar appealed the judge’s ruling and his attorneys, led by Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, argued that the words spoken were neither referable to or defamatory of the three; were covered by qualified privilege; were a proper reply to an attack and were fair comment on a matter of public interest.

In their majority ruling, CJ Archie and Justice of Appeal Gregory Smith dismissed all four grounds argued by Ramadhar and ordered that he pay twothirds costs of the appeal which had to be defended by the three.

Justice Prakash Moosai dissented and his reasons were not immediately available.

In the written ruling, Justice Smith held that the trial judge was ‘patently aware of the law’ and as the arbiter of the facts, he properly applied the law to the facts and circumstances which were before him at trial. “The exercise was fairly performed and in the present case I find no reason to second guess the impressions he formed and the findings he made on the contested facts before him,” Smith said.

Ramadhar was ordered to pay his brother $90,000; the same amount to Hanamji and $75,000 to Ramcharan.

The defamation claim filed by the three arose out of statements allegedly made by the COP leader and the party’s chairman at a COP National Council meeting on November 10, 2013, regarding a letter dated October 1, 2013, in which the three were accused of sending to the then Opposition PNM, information about the COP’s membership.

Ramadhar has stated his intention to appeal this latest ruling at the Privy Council.

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