Private Sector Head threatens legal action against Adam Harris over ‘libelous’ article

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PSC Chairman, Captain Gerry Gouveia

Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and businessman, Captain Gerry Gouveia, has threatened legal action against newspaper columnist, Adam Harris, over a number of libelous statements, he (Harris) made, via an article published by the State-owned Guyana Chronicle.

The allegations against the top private sector official were reportedly made in an Op-ed column titled; “Gerry Gouveia’s interest in the elections may be a case of self-interest”, carried on page 9 in the Sunday, April 26 edition of the Guyana Chronicle.

Gouveia, through his Attorney Christopher Ram, has since written to Harris demanding an unqualified public withdrawal of the allegations, a proper apology in terms to be agreed and published; with commensurate prominence given to the original article.

Columnist Adam Harris

According to Ram, the said article levels a number of gravely defamatory charges against his client. These allegations include; that Gouveia is persistent in trying to have the ballot boxes for certain of the electoral regions closed to public scrutiny; that he needs the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) in office and that he has collected the Value Added Tax of hundreds of millions of dollars but failed to pay these sums over to the Guyana Revenue Authority; and that this matter was decided by the court and that he has appealed the decision.

Ram said the article also makes allegations about an investigation into a transaction involving state assets and imputing impropriety on the part of Gouveia.

According to the Attorney, these allegations are completely false and have no basis in fact. “As you can imagine, the publication of the article has caused immense damage to our client’s reputation and immense pain and distress to him and his family. The injury suffered by our client has been aggravated by your disreputable conduct which falls far below the standards of an experienced columnist in a newspaper owned and funded by the state.

“Our client intends to ask the court to conclude that the said article was malicious in intent and written with complete indifference to the truth in an attempt to besmirch his reputation and desire for the early conclusion of the March 2020 elections. Our client will also be asking for substantial damages to be awarded against you and the newspaper in order to deter it and you from behaving in a similar manner in the future,” Ram indicated in his letter to Harris.

Gouveia, through his Attorney is also demanding that the offending article be removed from the newspaper’s website.

Gouveia said he is willing to bring the matter to an end if the article is withdrawn and the necessary public apology is offered by the columnist.

The PSC had fielded a team of observers for the March 2nd polls. The organisation has since been actively involved in joining with other stakeholders in pressing for a credible recount process and for a winner to be declared based on those results.

The PSC had also appealed to the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Organisation of American States, the European Union and the Carter Center to return to Guyana for the commencement of the recount by GECOM.