Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne, today secured a victory in the High Court when Justice Nicola Byer dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought by the Chairman of the True Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party, Vere Bird III.
On December 12, 2019, Vere Bird III, son of former Agriculture Minister Vere Bird Jr., filed in the High Court a suit claiming “damages for defamation against Prime Minister Browne for words published and broadcasted on Facebook on the 5th, 6th and 8th of November 2019.
The social media post concerned a Cabinet Decision giving Vere Bird III one acre of land for a purchase price of EC$25, 0000, a rate reserved for members of parliament.
In tossing out the defamation suit and awarding cost to Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Justice Byer, among other things ruled that the decision to grant Vere Bird III land at the cost reserved for members of parliament, when he was not a member, was improper.
Vere Bird III lawsuit had requested aggravated and exemplary damages which are usually granted when the defendant’s willful actions were malicious, violent, oppressive, fraudulent, wanton or grossly reckless.
Vere Bird III had contended that while he did not receive the land, the decision to grant him the land was proper. Prime Minister Browne had questioned the validity of the Cabinet Decision liking it to what is known as a “Cabinet Creeper.”
Commenting on the decision, Prime Minister Browne said that the victory in the Courts is proof that standing on the truth is always a form of defence, noting that whenever he makes statements, he always ensures that they can stand on the basis of being factual.
Vere Bird III has been a vocal opponent of Prime Minister Gaston Browne accusing him of improper behaviour in public office without providing proof of such a claim.
Prime Minister Browne during the lead-up to the recent general elections highlighted that the main opposition party and its agents were on a mission to defame him through lies and disinformation. He said that he will always challenge them all the way through the courts.
Recently, the Prime Minister wrote that there is a deliberate bending of the culture of politics in Antigua and Barbuda with lies and disinformation, pointing out that those in the opposition who peddle blatant lies, whether they are incapable of any higher intellectual standard or due to the fact that they have adopted lies as a technique for national disruption, run the risk of seriously undermining democracy and the rule of law in Antigua and Barbuda. This he said is a slippery slope to anarchy that would irreparably harm the nation and its people.
The recent victory in the courts he said is a vindication that the truth will always prevail.