St. John’s Antigua- Opposition leader Lester Bird has associated himself with MP Asot Michael’s call for a retraction of an alleged defamatory article about him and St Kitts & Nevis Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas.
Earlier this week, Michael, who was Bird’s one-time junior finance minister, asked the author of the article, Dwyer Astaphan of the St Kitts & Nevis online newspaper SKNVibes.com to retract it.
Like Michael, Bird said the article is baseless and factually incorrect and a retraction ought to be done by SKNVibes, which published it last week, as well as Antiguan weekly newspaper NewsPages and online news agency Caribarena.
Bird accused the original author of defaming MP Michael and trying to reduce public confidence in the St Kitts & Nevis prime minister.
Of that, he said, “I think it shows a lack of appreciation that they must go and check the situation because it affects the reputation of the Member of Parliament.”
The former prime minister, who is also an attorney, said Astaphan’s choice to write many of the paragraphs in the article as questions does not exculpate him from defamation.
“The questions posed by Mr Astaphan amount to defamation because clearly the innuendo is there, particularly since the article was not factually correct. To pose them as questions does not exculpate you from the realization that you should not, by innuendo, raise certain allegations. No matter in what clever format you may seek to do it in, you are clearly being defamatory,” Bird said.
All three media entities have been threatened with legal action should they fail to retract the article and issue an apology by Tuesday.
However, all three have published in full MP Michael’s unedited letter to Astaphan and the media houses.
Meantime, SKNVibes reported that when it contacted Astaphan for comment on the development he said, “I’ve put this matter in the hands of my attorneys … they will deal with it appropriately.”