Hate mail mess

JLP's Daryl Vaz going after PNP's Colin Campbell as vicious text message goes viral

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, November 10, 2019

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Lawyers representing Cabinet member Daryl Vaz are threatening legal action against the People's National Party's (PNP) Director of Communications Colin Campbell over comments in a hate mail that has gone viral on social media.

The anonymous message makes several allegations surrounding the recent decision by the United States (US) to yank the visitor's visa it had issued to Vaz.

A similar post, with equally damaging allegations, has also gone viral surrounding PNP Vice-President Phillip Paulwell, whose visa was also recently revoked by the US.

While there is speculation about who authored either of the posts, attorney-at-law George Soutar has written to Campbell charging that he forwarded to a WhatsApp group dubbed 2019 PNP MPs and Caretakers, the mail which “makes defamatory, false, scurrilous and vicious allegations about my client [Vaz]”.

Soutar further charged that Vaz has evidence to show that Campbell, “published the defamatory matter to in excess of 60 recipients, and it has since been widely distributed on social media”.

According to Soutar, in a letter seen by the Jamaica Observer, the content of the message is consistent with a post on the social media site Twitter which Campbell authored and published a few hours earlier.

“The material in these electronic communications is defamatory and has damaged my client's reputation, and as communication director you should know that your action in publishing/forwarding can give rise to a cause of action.

“Consequently, we offer you the opportunity to make amends by issuing a public apology via social media and both national newspapers, and enter into discussions regarding compensation. Should you not respond as indicated above within seven days, my client will pursue litigation without further reference to you,” warned Soutar, a veteran Queen's Counsel.

In confirming that he had initiated legal action Vaz, the minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, told the Sunday Observer that he was moving to protect his reputation.

“I have been involved in political life for 33 years, since 1986 when I became one of the youngest councillors ever elected; and from the day I entered politics there has been an orchestrated attempt at character assignation against me.

“It is something that I have faced, and fought, since 1986, and I will always continue. When these things happen if you do not deal with them, and deal with them appropriately through the proper channels, you will encourage other people to do these sorts of malicious, vindictive acts,” said Vaz.

He added: “You will recall I had a similar issue with the attorney-at-law David Rowe (now deceased) which I fought for five years in the courts in the United States, and I was successful in all cases brought against him.

“I intend to do the same thing in this situation and I intend to pursue it, not only for me, but so that other persons will not suffer the same fate that I have suffered for 33 years because of personal or other agendas.”

Vaz had filed action against Rowe, whom he accused of being the author of widely distributed hate mail that libelled him and several other high-profile Jamaican politicians and businessmen.

In that case Vaz used forensic experts to prove that the mail originated from Rowe's computer, and he told the Sunday Observer that he is prepared to do the same, if necessary, this time around.

According to Vaz, he has reported the matter to Police Commissioner Antony Anderson with a request that it be investigated.

In the meantime, Campbell yesterday confirmed that he has received the letter from the attorneys representing Vaz.

“They have made their claims in a letter to me and I have sent it on to my lawyers KSJ (Knight, Junor and Samuels),” said Campbell.

“I can also tell you that I do not know anything about this and I did not originate it. I saw it just like they did,” added Campbell.


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