by Linda Straker
- Seven days from 13 December 2019 to respond to pre-action protocol letter
- Letter demands cease and desist from repeating the claim; apologise and pay compensation of EC$350,000
Claudette Joseph, the Public Relations Officer of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has seven days from 13 December 2019 to respond to a pre-action protocol letter from Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell. If she fails to comply with the demands, a defamatory lawsuit will be filed against her in the civil court.
The letter to Joseph said that on 2 December in a live news conference from the headquarters of the NDC, she uttered words that can have negative effects on the Prime Minister who is the Minister for Finance and is also the person under whose ministry the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme falls.
“You made certain statements on behalf of the NDC about our client which we believe are defamatory in nature, and geared to impugn on his good name, his standing and reputation,” said the letter from the law firm of Nigel Stewarts and Associates. “These statements are therefore completely false and malicious in all respect and were intentionally made by you to cause damage to our client’s reputation.” The letter demands that Joseph, who is a lawyer by profession, cease and desist from repeating the claim; apologise and pay compensation of EC$350,000.
In the news conference whose speakers were former Political Leader and Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas, and Joseph — who was elected to the PRO role in early November 2019 — they expressed concern about the recent Al Jazeera production called “Diplomat passports for Sale.” The documentary is claiming that several Caribbean islands with citizenship by investment programmes are selling diplomat passports.
The segment on Grenada focused on the failed Grenada Sustainable Aquaculture project which was to be located in St Mark. While speaking on the matter, Joseph said that the Prime Minister was also an investor in the project and directed members of media to watch a Youtube video where he is disclosing the information.
“Our client denies uttering those words but merely to say that he has invested in the parish,” the letter informed Joseph.
The Prime Minister is known to own a historic house in St Mark which is undergoing significant refurbishing and upgrading.
As for the project, in October 2018, government placed a notice on its CBI website announcing the suspension of applications in respect of the project until further notice. In March 2019, the Prime Minister announced that an investigation was been conducted. An update is yet to be provided.
The letters ended by informing Joseph that failure to comply with the demands of the letter will give the firm no choice to proceed with legal action.
Calls to Joseph for a comment on the development proved futile as her telephone went unanswered.
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