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Jagdeo to appeal High Court’s upholding of Ferguson’s libel judgement

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 June 2021, 19:52 by Denis Chabrol

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo will Thursday file an appeal against a High Court decision that he must pay damages for defaming opposition politician Annette Ferguson, his lawyer said.

Attorney-at-Law Devendra Kissoon is also expected to seek a stay 0f Wednesday’s decision by Justice Sandra Kurtzious that Mr. Jagdeo was not entitled to have the case heard although he had not filed a defence within the stipulated 28 days.

Sources close to the Mr. Kissoon say that the Judge erred by withdrawing her award of GYD$20 million damages and leaving up to lawyers for Mr. Jagdeo and Ms. Ferguson to file submissions on an award of damages. This, the sources said, amounted to judge appealing her own decision.

Justice Kurtzious on Wednesday found that, based on the evidence provided by Ms. Ferguson, the case had no reasonable prospect of success.

Concerns have been also raised about the judge failing to hear Mr. Jagdeo’s bases of qualified privilege, justification and fair comment through a trial and for the provision of evidence.

Ms. Ferguson is claiming GYD$50 million in damages on two counts of libel, based on Mr. Jagdeo’s claims about her acquisition of a house lot and land and her tenure at the Guyana Post Office Corporation. But the judge found that while Ms. Ferguson has tendered evidence to disprove Mr. Jagdeo’s accusation, he never provided any and had even challenged her to take him to court.

Justice Kurtzious said fair comments must be made on the basis of facts and they must be stated.

Earlier this year, on an application by Ms. Ferguson, the High Court judge had issued a default judgement and a  GYD$20 million award to the opposition politician after Mr. Jagdeo’s then lawyer, Anil Nandlall, had failed to file a defence within the stipulated period.