ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Although he did not win damages in all five areas of his defamation lawsuit against MP Molwyn Joseph, the secretary of the Free and Fair Elections League George Rick James said he is satisfied with the award of $7,500 in general damages as compensation for injury to his feelings.
Justice Jennifer Remy yesterday ordered Joseph, the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) MP who made the defamatory remarks about James in October 2010, to pay the sum at a rate of five per cent interest per annum starting from the date of her decision.
The adjudicator also instructed Joseph to pay James prescribed costs (legal fees).
When he emerged from the hearing in the High Court, James was elated because the judgment vindicated his position on the matter.
“In libel cases you have to file a very broad case and paint it with broad brush because every word or every sentence that is said can have something in there that is libelous. I am very delighted. I was never at any time under any apprehension that the outcome would be any different,” a smiling James said.
He said his aim was to “clear up” the misinformation about his character and the details surrounding his attendance at the Tribunal that was looking into the conduct of commissioners at the Antigua & Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) two years ago.
Joseph was speaking on ZDK Radio’s Fire & Steel Programme in October 2010, when he uttered the defamatory comments, which can not be repeated since doing so would constitute further defamation of James’ character.
The ALP MP’s remarks suggested James’ behaviour was unethical when he attended the Tribunal and was later called as a witness in the proceedings.
“There was nothing illegal in doing so,” James said. “I want the public to know that there is nothing wrong in that. There is no law that says if you attend hearings in a case that you can not testify in that case afterwards.”
While James won general damages and costs, he was denied the application for aggravated and exemplary damages and a public apology from Joseph.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)