High Court Judge Jo-Ann Barlow has found the statements made by Leader of the Alliance for Change (AFC) Khemraj Ramjattan against former party member Charrandass Persaud following the December 2018 no-confidence motion to be defamatory.
Persaud, who had voted in favour of the no-confidence motion, led to the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU + AFC) Government being toppled.
In the lawsuit, which Attorney-at-Law Christopher Ram filed, Persaud attributed Ramjattan to stories carried in the Guyana Chronicle titled “Cops closing in on Charrandas” and the Stabroek News under the headline “Ramjattan: Charrandas Persaud is villain, not hero.”
He also mentioned statements Ramjattan made on a talk show, GlobeSpan 24X7, streamed on Facebook and YouTube on February 23, 2019.
Following the comments, it was noted that Ram wrote Ramjattan on February 27, 2019, and requested that he retract the statements, but he never did so.
Persaud had contended that these published statements were intended to “lowering his reputation, character, morality, and honesty as an attorney at law in the eyes of right-thinking members of the public.”
In her ruling, Justice Barlow said the Court found that the statements were “defamatory.”
“They tend to lower the plaintiff in the estimation of right-thinking members of society and expose him to hatred, contempt or ridicule and cause other persons to shun or avoid him,” Justice Barlow said.
She added, “The words went further than accusing the Claimant of being disloyal. Those words viewed objectively spoke of dishonesty most foul.”
In determining what measure of damages is appropriate, the Court noted that in such matters as these, damages are awarded as compensation and are based on the circumstances of the particular case.
As such, the Court determined that $7 million is appropriate in the circumstances of this case. The Court further ordered that Ramjattan refrains from making statements suggesting that Persaud was compensated financially for his vote in the no-confidence motion.
He is also required to pay Persaud $150,000 in costs on or before August 25, 2022.