by Roy R. Morris
Bees are not only stinging Dems these days.
According to court documents obtained by Barbados TODAY, veteran Member of Parliament George Payne was so hurt by comments allegedly made by party colleague, Edmund Hinkson, a parliamentary new-comer, after the February 21 General Elections that he is now suing him for defamation.
The claim form, filed in the Supreme Court by the law firm Smith & Smith on April 25, on Payne’s behalf, seeks “damages for defamation in respect of the words published and spoken of the Claimant by the Defendant on the 25th day of February 2013 at a meeting held at the Barbados Labour Party Headquarters Roebuck Street Bridgetown which was attended by thirteen (13) members of the Barbados Labour Party elected to the Parliament of Barbados in the parliamentary elections held on the 21st day of February, 2013”.
Among other things, Payne also wants the court to grant an injunction restraining Hinkson or his servants or agents from repeating the words of which he complained.
In the official court document, Payne’s attorneys stated:
“A meeting of the newly elected members of the Barbados Labour Party in Parliament was held on Monday 25th February 2013 at the Barbados Labour Party Headquarters, Roebuck Street, Bridgetown, St. Michael at 10:30 a.m. The main purpose of the meeting was to select the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.
“The persons who attended the meeting were Mia Amour Mottley, Cynthia Forde, Santia Bradshaw, Dale Marshall, Maria Agard, Ronald Toppin, Dwight Sutherland, Glyne Clarke, Trevor Prescod, Kerry Simmons, Jeffrey Bostic, Edmund Hinkson and the Claimant. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Dale Marshall.
“During the meeting, there were a number of contributions and interruptions and Mr. Edmund G. Hinkson was requested on more than one occasion to allow other members to make their representation without interruption. While the Claimant was making his contribution to the meeting, he was suddenly interrupted by the Defendant who indicated that he had no moral authority to speak about leadership and shouted out in a loud voice:
“You are a crook and a criminal; you are a big Queen’s Counsel and you committed fraud; you are totally unfit to be a member of parliament; you aint got any right here; you should be in prison”.
“The Chairman tried to calm him down and Mr. Ronald Toppin chided him for his outburst but in response to Mr. Toppin he retorted: “Don’t mind you, what do you have to show for the eighteen (18) years you were a Member of Parliament?”.
Other members spoke to him about his behaviour including Mr. Dwight Sutherland, one of our newest members who indicated to him that he should apologise for his outburst, which was disrespectful to a senior member and was sending the wrong message to the new members. To this he responded: “There are no senior members in here, we are all equal. George Payne is a political clown.”
“The Claimant felt humiliated, depressed and embarrassed by the comments made inasmuch as these statements were totally untruthful and because he had never had such damaging accusations made against him nor was he privy to any conduct on his part which would warrant such a damaging assessment of his character.
“It was the first time that the claimant had ever heard any person making any negative comments about him with criminal implications since his admission to the Bar in 1975 as an attorney-at-law or since his election to the House of Assembly in 1991 as a Member of Parliament. Furthermore, the Claimant has never in his lifetime been involved or implicated in any matter which would warrant such accusations.
“Since the Defendant made those accusations the Claimant has had many sleepless nights reflecting on the comments made by the Defendant with whom the Claimant has had very little dealing or contact in his political and professional life and can find no plausible or logical reason for these baseless attacks on him.”
The court document further states:
1. The words “you are a crook and a criminal; you are a big Queen’s Counsel and you committed fraud; you are totally unfit to be a member of parliament; you aint got any right here; you should be in prison”, are unfounded false and defamatory and in their natural and ordinary meaning mean and are understood to mean that:
(a) the claimant is dishonest and has been convicted of a criminal offence;
(b) that the claimant has committed fraud;
2. By innuendo, the words mean and are understood to mean that as a Queen’s Counsel, he should be disbarred from practising law because of having committed fraud.
(a) that the Claimant is unsuitable and unfit to be a member of parliament and should be disqualified from being a member of Parliament.
(b) that the Claimant should be convicted and imprisoned for criminal offences committed.
In consequence, the Claimant’s personal and professional business, political and civic reputation has been seriously damaged and the Claimant has suffered considerable mental pain, distress and embarrassment.
(d) the said words complained of were calculated and intended to disparage the Claimant in his said profession, his civic duties and personal business and character and in fact have done so.”
Under the heading “malice” it added:
(1) The Defendant has maliciously published and spoken the defamatory statements of the Claimant.
(2) The Defendant has acted with spite and ill-will towards the Claimant.
(3) The Defendant has published and spoken the defamatory statements of the Claimant in utter and reckless disregard that the statements are unfounded and untrue.
(4) The statements were totally unnecessary and irrelevant to the business and issues of the meeting.
(5) The Claimant states that as a result of the defamatory publication in use in this action he has been brought into ridicule scandal and contempt both personally and in his profession and public and civic roles.
(6) The Defendant’s conduct towards the Claimant has been malicious reckless, callous, reprehensible and in complete and total disregard for his personal and professional and political reputation.
(7) Notice of the defamation has been served on the Defendant requesting an apology but the Defendant has not offered a suitable and satisfactory apology and amends nor has he given the requested written assurance and undertaking that he will not further or at any time in the future make the said statements or any statement of similar imputations concerning the Claimant.” firstname.lastname@example.org