Former Head of National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington has won his defamation cases against Kaieteur News, and its former Editor-in-Chief Adam Harris over articles published which among other things, described him by an informal term which means a person, who is dishonest or a criminal.
Having been successful with his claim, Brassington was awarded $18M in damages, along with $220,000 in court costs.
During 2014, Kaieteur News, owned by Glen Lall, in its ‘Dem Boys Seh’ Column published articles defaming Brassington.
Among other things, the newspapers published that he used information as director and office of NICIL to invest in Hand-in-Hand Trust; and that he was instrumental in awarding a road construction contract for US$18M for the first phase of the Amaila Falls Project to Synergy.
The newspaper also published information which also inferred that he and others sold shares in GTT and took the money and that he had engaged in criminal fraud for personal gain and in the conduct of his offices.
In fact, the newspapers, according to court documents, published that Brassington should be jailed for these wrongdoings.
In defence, the newspapers had claimed justification and fair comment.
However, having examined the evidence, Justice Fidela Corbin-Lincoln found that Kaieteur News failed to provide any documentary or other evidence to prove the truth of the statements.
The newspapers, in its defence, outlined several averments with respect to the alleged facts upon which the defence of fair comment is based.
But the Judge noted that the defence of justification and fair comment failed. With the articles having been published online and reached outside the jurisdiction, Justice Corbin-Lincoln found that the words complained of would convey to any ordinary reasonable reader that Brassington is dishonest.
The Judge pointed out that Kaieteur News neither apologized nor issued a retraction.
Rather, she said the evidence shows that the newspapers repeated the libel and/or the substance of the libel in other publications. In her judgment, the Judge said that Kaieteur News did not communicate with Brassington prior to the publication or request a comment or response to the accusations.
Brassington’s evidence was that after the publications his family suffered gravely. He submitted that he was the subject of ridicule and suspicion as a result of the publications and that his friends would telephone him about the publications. He gave evidence with respect to what his children reported to him was allegedly being said by their schoolmates and teachers.
Brassington had filed 25 sets of claims for damages for libel against Kaieteur News.
Having weighed all the aggravating and mitigating factors and having regard to the the purpose of an award of damages, the awards already made and the fact that libel is actionable per se, the Judge ordered that the newspapers and its former Editor-in-Chief jointly and severally pay Brassington damages in the sum of $18,000,000.
The Judge further ordered that Kaieteur News and its former Editor-in-Chief shall jointly and severally pay Brassington costs in the sum of $220,000.
Attorney-at-Law Timothy Jonas appeared for Brassington, while Attorney-at-Law Shaunella Glen represented Kaieteur News and Adam Harris.
Editor’s Note: This story previously stated that the lawsuit totalled $15M however it has since been amended to reflect $18M.