Former President wins $20M defamation lawsuit against Kaieteur News

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Former President Donald Ramotar

High Court Judge Navindra Singh today awarded $20 million in damages to former President Donald Ramotar who successfully mounted a defamation lawsuit against Kaieteur News, its publisher, Glenn Lall and former Editor-in-Chief, Adam Harris.

Apart from damages, Ramotar was also awarded $2.4M in costs.

The lawsuit for the tort of defamation stemmed from publication made in the Kaieteur News during June 2019, which suggested that the former President corruptly signed and granted two Petroleum Prospecting Licences for the purpose of carrying out prospecting operations in the Kaieteur and Canje Blocks.

In a written judgment, Justice Singh held, “The publications unmistakably convey the impression that the oil Blocks were sold and/ or disposed of and no longer the property of Guyana when in fact the agreements signed by [Ramotar] only granted Petroleum Prospecting Licences for the purpose of carrying out prospecting operations in what are known as the Kaieteur and Canje Blocks, a fact that must have been known to [Kaieteur News] or easily discoverable by examining the contracts.”

“The Court finds that the publications clearly attacked [Ramotar’s] character, labelling him as a dishonest person that engages in fraudulent or criminal practices and further that he engaged in such conduct when he was the President of Guyana thereby stealing from the people [citizens] of Guyana,” the judgment noted.

Taking this into consideration, the Judge found that Ramotar was defamed by the publication and awarded damages and costs against the newspapers. Kaieteur News’ publisher Glenn Lall and its former Editor-in-Chief were represented by lawyer Nigel Hughes, while Ramotar was represented by lawyer C.V. Satram.