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Holness tells Phillips to apologise or face lawsuit

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

ATTORNEY-AT-LAW George Soutar yesterday wrote Finance Minister Peter Phillips, as well as lawyers for Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, accusing them of defaming Opposition Leader Andrew Holness and, in Dr Phillips’ case, demanding an apology within three days and payment to a children’s charity to be named by Holness as compensation for loss and damages.

In his letter to Phillips, Soutar said that on February 12 he and the People’s National Party (PNP) caused to be published in The Gleaner, statements concerning Holness.

Soutar explained that Phillips’ statements were, in his view, "by implication and/or innuendo", defamatory to his client.

Soutar said that the entire statement was defamatory but, for the purpose of the letter, he highlighted one aspect, under the headline "Construction of House", which made certain statements concerning Holness’ purchase of the land and the construction of his dwelling house thereon.

"These statements sought to suggest or impute that Mr Holness purchased the land and is carrying out construction thereon using funds that were obtained dishonestly, illicitly, illegally, and corruptly," Soutar told Phillips.

"These statements will tend to have the effect of lowering Mr Holness’ character in the eyes of well-thinking people. The damage has been made worse, because you have repeated these statements in a press conference held on the said 12th day of February, 2016 and repeated in several editions of The Gleaner and Observer newspapers," Soutar stated.

He said that his letter served to demand that: (a) within three days of its receipt, Dr Phillips must publish a suitably worded apology, giving it prominence, equal to that of the defamatory statements to be approved by his client; and (b) that Phillips pay an agreed sum to a children’s charity chosen by Holness. He said that this payment would be treated as compensation for the loss and damages suffered by Holness.

"If I do not receive a positive response from you, I have instructions to file action against you, seeking damages and other vindicatory reliefs as may be ordered by the court," he wrote.