PM Browne defiant amid threat of litigation from ex-LIAT pilot

Gaston Browne
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Prime Minister Gaston Browne is adamant that a defamation lawsuit threatened by one of the former LIAT employees leading the fight for millions owed in severance will not be successful.

The threat to sue PM Browne has been made by ex-LIAT pilot, Captain Neil Cave, who alleges that Browne made defamatory statements about him and tarnished his reputation during a recent radio appearance.

In his comments, Browne also reportedly said he would not support the pilot’s return to a revived LIAT, and would protest if the government of Barbados – where Cave is from – attempts to facilitate his return.

Speaking to Barbados Today, Cave said Browne’s remarks were a personal attack on him and his “good name”, because he dared to speak out about the “injustices” going on at the Antigua-based airline.   

Cave is one of several hundred former LIAT staff seeking more than EC$120 million collectively owed in severance and other entitlements after being laid off in 2020.       

Since then, the ex-employees have been urging the airline’s shareholder governments to come together and reach an agreement that would see them receive what they are rightfully owed, but there has been no significant progress made in that regard.

The pilot told the media outlet that he has been defamed, and revealed that he would be filing a lawsuit against Browne in the court in St John’s shortly, asking for an undisclosed sum of damages.

He also insisted that he will not be bullied by the Prime Minister, nor be intimidated by his apparent schoolboy bully tactics, adding that he would “never in his wildest dreams” return to LIAT if Browne remains involved in the carrier.

According to Cave, the PM’s attitude and approach to LIAT have created many problems for the airline.

Responding to Cave’s threat, Browne implied that the comments in question were actually made in Parliament, and not on radio as was suggested, and called the lawsuit threat an example of Cave “looking to be seen”.

“A statement of fact, made in the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda – where I swore an oath to speak without fear or favour – could never be defeated in a court of law.

“As usual, Neil [Cave] is looking for ‘noticement’ and relevance,” the PM claimed.

It is not clear when Cave will officially commence the legal action, but such a situation is certainly not favourable for PM Browne, who continues to lobby for a fully reinvigorated LIAT to take flight.

During the recent Caricom heads of government meeting, several leaders reportedly agreed to seriously consider supporting the revival of LIAT.

However, there was no consensus on the millions owed to the airline’s hundreds of former staff.

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