ST. JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda, January 3, 2020 (CMC) – Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, has dismissed a threat of a lawsuit, by the Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda True Labour Party (ABTLP), Vere Bird 111, insisting that the statements he is alleged to have made that were defamatory, were not so.
“I don’t see how he could make the case of defamation. In any event, I stand by my statements, so let him bring it on. The reality is that there’s nothing that I said there, that was defamatory,” Browne said.
The lawyer for Bird filed the claim in the High Court on December 12 last year, seeking damages for defamation for words that had been published and broadcast on social media on November 5, 6, and 8, last year.
The social media post concerned an alleged Cabinet decision giving Bird an acre of land for a purchase price of EC$25,000, and Bird, in a December 4 letter, had called on Prime Minister Browne to retract the statements made, giving him a seven-day period to do so.
In the latter, the lawyer for Bird requested that Browne, “immediately retract the defamatory statement and remove it from your Facebook page, “provide an apology to my client in terms to be approved by him; (3) give an assurance and undertaking in writing that you will not repeat the publication of these or similar allegations concerning my client; and (4) provide an offer in damages (compensation) to properly compensate my client for the defamatory statement, made by you, and the injury to my client’s reputation, the distress caused to him and the costs to which he has been put in the matter”.
But Browne said that if Bird denies knowing anything about the allegations made, then he would most likely to be implicating his father, Vere Bird Jr, who was then the Minister of Agriculture.
“If that is the case, why it is now, after 15 years, Vere Bird 111 is trying to make the claim that he knew nothing about it. He can go and sell that to the marines and, anyone who believes that, will believe that pigs could fly, Browne responded..
Browne said that the lawsuit is part of a strategy by the opposition parties, here, to frustrate his administration.
“There is a strategy within the UPP (United Progressive Party)….in which they are trying to tie me up in court whenever I oppose them and, as far as I am concerned, it will not work, because I always make sure I stand on the side of the truth, and if you notice, they have not won one single case against me.
“So they could bring all the litigations. I always make sure that whenever I make my statements that they can stand on the basis of being factual.”