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Kamla seeking damages

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

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Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar is seeking “substantial” damages from her predecessor, Patrick Manning over remarks made during a news conference earlier this month.
Lawyers for the Prime Minister in a three-page letter sent to Manning and made available to the media said that Manning had during a news conference to discuss the activities of the Security Intelligence Agency (SIA) on November 12, made statements that were “false and malicious and calculated to injure our client’s reputation in her public and private capacity”.
The lawyers claim that Manning’s statements were reproduced in a newspaper article and that “in their natural meaning and or by way of innuendo, the words…were understood to mean that our client and or the People’s Partnership coalition, of which she is the leader, received financial contributions or assistance from drug lords….
The lawyers claim also that the statements made by the former prime minister during the news conference “meant or were understood to mean that our client was a party to a criminal conspiracy the purpose of which was to facilitate criminal activities of drug dealers and or drug lords by comprising or weakening security agencies of the state”.
Earlier this month, the Prime Minister said that the SIA had been engaged in illegally tapping the phones of several prominent people including President George Maxwell Richards, members of the judiciary, media, sports personalities and even a comedienne.
In the letter to Manning, the firm Davesh Maharaj and Associates, said their client requires “ an unqualified withdrawal of the allegations…and a proper apology…in terms to be agreed.”
Further, the former prime minister is also being asked to give an undertaking “not to repeat the allegations or similar allegations” as well as “the payment of a substantial sum in damages to our client to demonstrate the baselessness of the allegations and to compensate our client for the injury to her reputation and considerable distress that has been caused”.
Manning is also being asked to meet “our client’s legal fees”.
The lawyers warn that if Manning fails to “withdraw promptly the allegations and apologise” the Prime Minister “will mitigate the damages to which she is entitled.
“If however, you force her to go through a long and drawn out libel action in order to clear her name, her only vindication will be an award of very substantial damages from the court”.