By Carl Joseph
A former bodybuilder turned social activist, has been awarded $140,000 in damages in her claim against the former Chairman of the National Festivals Committee, Cliff Williams.
High Court Justice Rosalyn Wilkinson handed down the judgement, on March 5, in favour of Mary John.
John, who filed the claim on July 11, 2016, had alleged that a statement made by Williams via social media on July 27, 2015, was “a libellous Facebook publication”.
The statement was made during a bitter exchange between both parties, which John initiated when she posted a comment to the page of the then festivals head on the subject of foreign artistes performing during Carnival.
The Court noted that, “Ms John’s statement was in relation to Jamaican artistes being brought in for the Carnival and so it cannot be said that she in any way triggered Mr Williams’ [libellous] statement.”
In the exchange, the posts made reference to John’s drug addiction to illicit drugs which had spanned approximately 18 years.
Over the last 12 years, however, she had been working as a social and political activist along with engaging in many speaking engagements with children.
John argued that given her work and the progress that she had made, Williams’ Facebook post had her very worried about the impact of his statements on her work and the progress that she has made with the people she had been trying to help.
She said that Williams’ posts led a series of written and verbal attacks against her. John also recalled that despite numerous calls to the defendant, and a letter from her lawyer requesting Williams to apologise, he refused to do so.
In the ruling, the court ordered Williams to remove the publication and all comments which followed in a thread or personal timeline from his Facebook page and wherever the publication may appear that is under his control within 48 hours of the judgment
The court also granted an injunction restraining Williams “whether by himself, his servants or agents from publishing or causing to be published any further defamatory material about Ms John”.
John was awarded $100,000 in general damages and $40,000 in aggravated damages along with court costs awarded at the prescribed rate.
OBSERVER media reached out to John who said she had no comment at this time.
Meanwhile, when contacted, Williams indicated that he will be appealing the court’s decision and will be pursuing his own countersuit against John for libel.