ATTORNEY-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C., on Tuesday, filed a lawsuit for the defamation of his character against A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) Member of Parliament, Annette Ferguson, for remarks she made stating that he was distributing identification cards on Elections Day.
The allegation that Nandlall had distributed identification cards to People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) supporters on the March 2, 2020 Elections Day, surfaced on the same day when the remarks were made by General-Secretary of the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R), Amna Ally and former Attorney-General, Basil Williams, at the Mon Repos Primary School, East Coast Demerara.
Ferguson had reiterated the remarks on March 22, 2021 at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown, during a round-table discussion hosted by the European Union (EU) Elections Observer team, in front of the entire forum, while speaking through a microphone.
The court documents filed by Nandlall quotes her as saying “…you have persons who are sitting in this room that were found distributing ID Cards on elections day, not the APNU/AFC. It is the very Attorney-General, Mr. Anil Nandlall, who was found distributing ID Cards in the lower East Coast corridor…”
Present at the round-table discussion were UN Resident Coordinator, Mikiko Tanaka; the United States (US) Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Mark Cullinane; Director of the International Republican Institute (IRI), Dorotta Tyzy; representatives from the political parties, constitutional service commissions, the press and other prominent authorities.
The Statement of Claim filed on behalf of Nandlall by the law firm, Satram & Satram, noted that, in their natural and ordinary meaning, and by way of innuendo, the words uttered by Ferguson meant and were understood to mean that Nandlall committed a criminal offence and an electoral offence, both punishable by imprisonment.
It goes on to state that Ferguson utterance means that Nandlall is guilty of electoral irregularity; that he was actively aiding and abetting persons to commit a criminal electoral offence and to commit electoral irregularities; that he perverted the electoral process; that he is dishonest and lacks integrity; that he was unfit to participate at forums like the round-table discussion and that he was unfit for public office.
CALCULATED TO DISPARAGE
“The aforesaid words complained of were calculated to disparage the Claimant [Nandlall] and intentionally done to and did embarrass, humiliate and injure the reputation and standing of the Claimant in his profession and office,” the court document stated.
The court document noted that Ferguson made the remarks knowing them to be false, and as a consequence, Nandlall’s reputation has been seriously harmed and he has suffered considerable hurt, embarrassment, distress and anxiety.
The Attorney-General is claiming general damages in excess of $10,000,000; aggravated damages in excess of $10,000,000; costs and other orders the Court deems just and reasonable.
Nandlall is also seeking an injunction restraining Ferguson and anyone acting on her behalf from speaking or publishing the said or similar defamatory remarks, as the court document noted, if Ferguson is not restrained by the Court, she will continue to publish the same or similar remarks.
Nandlall had previously issued a statement on the matter denouncing a video that was circulating on Facebook in which Ally and Williams made the accusation, noting that on the day in question he was called to the location by PPP/C candidates to observe a crowd misbehaving and abusing persons who were going to cast their vote.
“When Basil Williams and Amna Ally entered, I thought I was talking to intelligent, mature, experienced politicians who would have been able to rise above the foolish fray and, low and behold, they were mouthing the identical accusation,” Nandlall expressed in the statement.
The Attorney-General on March 23, 2021 had disclosed that he was awaiting a transcript of the recorded meeting to file legal proceedings against Ferguson where the burden of proof will be on her to prove before a judge in the High Court that the accusations she made are truthful.
“I don’t want when I go to court she denies saying so, although she said it in a whole room of people. I will have the recording with her voice on it so the judge will not have to be in doubt and I will not have to go to any great length in providing that these words were uttered and were uttered by her,” he said.
“She will go and explain to a judge of the High Court very soon how she knows that I was sharing out ID cards. Let them bring the person who saw me or let them bring evidence that they have that I was sharing out ID cards on Elections Day,” he added.