Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
People’s Action Movement
June 13, 2010
Judge Francis Belle today, Friday 11th June, 2010, dismissed with costs an application filed by the defendants Prime Minister Denzil Douglas and Cedric Liburd to obtain several orders in the longstanding defamation case brought against them by People’s Action Movement Deputy Political Leader the Honourable Eugene Hamilton.
MP Hamilton, the elected Representative for Constituency No 8, had sued Douglas and Liburd in 2 suits for slanderous statements made during a political campaign in 1993. The defendants have sought repeatedly to delay the hearing of these matters which are now consolidated and which had been set down in December 2009 and April 2010 for trial by jury.
The Hearing which began on 10th June, had been scheduled for Prime Minister Douglas to come to Court with his diary to set a date when he would be available for trial following his application to vacate the last trial dates set for April 26 to 28, 2010.
The Defendants through their lawyer, Anthony Astaphan S.C., had asked the Court to be allowed to produce witness statements to support their defence of fair comment, and for a witness summons to be issued to the Chairman of National Caribbean Insurance Company Limited, Mr. Jonathan Bass, for him to produce all documents, contracts, correspondence and a number of other things during the period when Mr Hamilton had been General Manager of National Insurance for them to be able to properly present their case. The Defendants also asked the Judge to give directions in the selection of the jury for the trial.
Mr. Hamilton, who is represented by Mr Terence Byron C.M.G., argued that the application was bad on a number of grounds and should be dismissed. In particular, it was argued that the Defendants were only fishing for material to try to bolster their case after all these years, when they had refused to identify what the comment was that they said was fair. Mr. Byron also argued that it was unfair for the Defendants to target Mr. Bass with the threat of contempt of court if he did not produce documents which the Defendants are not even sure exist.
The Judge upheld the arguments of Counsel for Mr Hamilton and dismissed the Defendants’ application, and then granted an award of costs to Mr. Hamilton. A new date has been set for the trial which will now begin on November 15, 2010 and is expected to last 4 or 5 days.