PM and Ivena to go to trial in defamation

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The defamation case that Prime Minister Gaston Browne filed against calypsonian, Lena “Queen Ivena” Phillip, will be going to trial.
Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan said that the Master of the High Court, Fidela Corbin-Lincoln, has given direction for the filing of the defence by Ivena and her lawyer Ralph Francis.
At yesterday’s hearing, the defence was given 28 days to file submissions to counter the prime minister’s claim. And PM Browne will have 14 days after that to respond, if he finds it necessary.
Both Astaphan and Francis have confirmed that the matter will then proceed to case management where a trial date will be set. They said that this means that the case will be dealt with some time next year.
Francis had earlier filed a claim asking the Court to interpret whether the specific words complained of were in fact defamatory.
However, Francis abandoned this after the prime minister amended his lawsuit to also include innuendos that he said the song contained.
In July of this year, the prime minister sued the calypsonian over lyrics in her song, called Nastiness, which he said were defamatory.
Phillip was asked to sign an indemnity agreement with the Festivals Commission, saying she would accept liability if the prime minister were to sue the body which oversees carnival competitions and production. However, she refused and did not show up for the performance leading into the finals.
There was mixed public reaction to the prime minister’s decision to sue, with the majority disagreeing with it.

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