Former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall has filed a $125 million lawsuit against his successor, Basil Williams, for alleging that he had stolen a series of Commonwealth Law Books from the State while he occupied the office of Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs.
Attorney General Basil Williams declared last month that charges are looming against Nandlall, who admitted to having the books but has denied stealing them; but Nandlall has explained that the books were acquired under an arrangement with President Donald Ramotar and in regard to his appointment as Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs.
Nandlall is also contending that because he has critiqued the performance of Attorney General Basil Williams, he is being victimised, but the Attorney General is dismissing that contention.
Nandlall has now moved to the court, seeking damages in excess of $25 million each for slander and libel published on the March 24, 2017 at a press conference hosted at the National Communication Network Inc; another $25 million for libel published on page 11 of the Guyana Times newspaper on March 25, 2017; damages in excess of $25 million for slander published during an outreach programme in Berbice on March 26, 2017; and another $25 million for libel published by Demerara Waves Online News on March 27, 2017. He is also seeking exemplary/aggravated damages and interest on all damages awarded pursuant to Section 12 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act Chap 6:02.
Nandlall is further asking the court to issue an injunction restraining Williams by himself, his servants and/or agents from publishing or causing to be published, or saying or causing to be said, or repeating concerning the claimant, defamatory words regarding the law books.
According to the court document seen by this media house, Nandlall commenced subscribing to Lexis Nexis (UK), publishers of the Commonwealth Law Reports, sometime in 2003, and to date still does; with the arrangement that individual Law Reports are shipped to him along with an invoice, which he pays upon receipt of each Report. However, during discussions with the then President, Donald Ramotar, prior to his appointment as Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Nandlall requested that as a condition of his service, Government of Guyana take over payment arrangements with Lexis Nexis (UK) in relation to the said Commonwealth Law Reports for the period during his tenure in office.
“This was agreed upon as a condition of the claimant’s service as Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs. Lexis Nexis (UK) were accordingly informed, and sometime during the claimant’s tenure, the payment arrangement for these books was changed and the Ministry of Legal Affairs began to pay for the said Law Reports. When the claimant demitted office, he so informed Lexis Nexis (UK), and requested that the payment arrangement that existed hitherto be reactivated, and the same was done,” the legal document outlined.
Approximately 14 Commonwealth Law Reports were received under the aforesaid arrangement.
A few months later, the claimant learnt from press reports that the defendant had commissioned a special audit into the said Law Reports. During the probe, former President Donald Ramotar had written Auditor General Deodat Sharma, informing him that an arrangement was made with Nandlall, as part of his employment contract, to pay for the continuous subscription of the books while he occupied office.
Despite this explanation by the former President, and with no evidence of misconduct being found by the Auditor, Nandlall’s court documents say, Williams continued the scandalous allegation, accusing the claimant of dishonesty and legal impropriety.
To this end, the former AG is contending, unless the court puts a stop to Williams, the “malicious and unwarranted” attacks would continue; hence his decision to file the lawsuit against his successor for his utterance of words which are false, malicious and defamatory.
“In the consequence, the claimant’s reputation and professional standing (have) been seriously injured, and he has suffered considerable distress, anxiety and public humiliation,” the court document outlines.
After hearing the submissions of the application last week, the High Court has granted an interim injunction restraining Williams, his servants and/or agents from publishing or causing to be published, or saying or causing to be said, or repeating the allegations against Nandlall.
The defendant, Williams, has been given 28 days to file a defence to the claim filed, and the matter will next be heard on May 17.