Former PM Patterson seeking legal advice on libellous e-mail

Sunday, April 29, 2012

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P J Patterson is now seeking legal advice about a libellous e-mail alleged to have been authored by Professor David Rowe, the former Jamaican prime minister confirmed yesterday.

"I have referred the matter to my lawyers and await their advice," Patterson told the Jamaica Observer. He said he would withhold any further comment at this time until he had heard from his lawyers.

Patterson, himself an eminent lawyer, is known to guard his reputation jealously and is not likely to treat the e-mail lightly, given its global distribution through the Internet.

The e-mail under the name "Paul Azan", also libelled other prominent Jamaican politicians and businessmen, including former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, former Finance Minister Audley Shaw, former Information and Telecommunications Minister Daryl Vaz, former Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Christopher Tufton; Gordon 'Butch Stewart', chairman of the Sandals group which includes the Jamaica Observer, and Brian Jardim, his son.

When the possibility of lawsuits was first reported on April 4, an Observer source had pointed out that suspicion was aroused by the fact that after saying "some of the most nasty things" against the politicians and businessmen, the author had glowing words only for former ATL executives Patrick Lynch and Dr Jeffery Pyne, who are both facing fraud charges.

Yesterday, Tufton told the Sunday Observer that he was very distressed by the e-mail and had received many "alarming calls about it". He said he has started legal consultations and would likely take his cue from actions now being pursued.

Vaz is the first of the group to have filed a libel suit against Rowe on April 13, 2012 in the Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County, Florida, claiming that Rowe, "hiding behind pseudonyms... fabricated and published a document purported to be an official 'US Law Enforcement Memo to Turks and Caicos Special Investigation and Prosecutions Team'."

The document made "direct accusations of bribery, money laundering, corruption and close affiliations with a notorious convicted drug lord", Vaz said in court papers.

Rowe, a Jamaican-born Florida attorney, has denied being the author of the document in question and filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit as it had failed "to state a cause of action on which relief may be granted or to establish subject matter jurisdiction".

And well-known Jamaican attorney Abe Dabdoub yesterday made it clear he was not representing Rowe in Florida as "I am not a Florida attorney-at-law". But he said if Vaz filed an action against Rowe in Jamaica "I have undertaken to represent Professor Rowe in those circumstances".

Dabdoub was responding to suggestions that he might have been representing Rowe because documents from the Florida attorney to Vaz's lawyer had been copied to him. He admitted receiving the copied documents.

Asked if he represented Rowe in a second defamation case brought by Bruce Golding against Rowe in the Jamaican courts, Dabdoub said: "I was not asked to represent him in the Golding matter which came to my attention through the press..."

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