Prime Minister sues OBSERVER and Tabor after calypso row

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Just days after he issued a threat to sue over a controversial calypso song, Prime Minister Gaston Browne has brought action against OBSERVER Radio and opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) spokesman Senator Damani Tabor.
Yesterday, OBSERVER’s management was served with a lawsuit filed in the High Court on July 6, 2017.
PM Browne, who signed the document on July 3, is seeking damages, including aggravated damages and costs on the indemnity basis, as he accuses Tabor of making defamatory statements about him on an OBSERVER Radio programme on January 4.
The legal battle is linked to comments Tabor made on OBSERVER Radio regarding the Prime Minister, his wife Maria Bird-Browne and her charity, Share Incorporated and its partnership with government in a Venture Capital Fund which was announced last year.
Paragraph eight of the claim explains, “As a result of the publication of the words complained of, the Claimant has been very severely injured in his character and reputation as Prime Minister and personally, and that of his wife and family, and has been brought into public scandal, odium and contempt including public ridicule in at least two calypsos.”
The claim, filed by Rika Bird and Associates, also outlines, “The accusations are very personal to the Claimant and the nature of the attacks and the manner and tone of the Defendant’s accusations have aggravated the injury caused to the Claimant. They have led to the Claimant being the subject to verbal condemnation and ridicule by some members of the public who have repeatedly called into radio programmes on OBSERVER and Crusader Radio to vilify and condemn the Claimant.”
Also included in his lawsuit, the PM has requested an injunction to prevent OBSERVER Radio and Tabor from ever repeating the defamatory claims in the future. This injunction includes playing at least two calypsos which he alleges contains a repeat of Tabor’s words.
Browne also accused OBSERVER Radio of neglecting to reach out to him for his side of the story, an accusation that is completely false given that Browne has been interviewed both live on radio and separately where he responded to Tabor’s allegations. Similarly, Browne’s colleague, Lennox Weston, was also interviewed and offered clarification to statements and questions posed by Tabor.
Nonetheless, the claim continues, “The Second Defendant [OBSERVER Radio] permitted or caused the allegations to be broadcasted without any injury or investigations on whether the allegations were true or not, without any system for verification or prior contemporaneous inquiry to ascertain whether or not the allegations are or may be false.”
Browne said the statements are reckless, intentional and without regard for the truth. The PM claims that he has written to Tabor since April calling for him to retract his statement but his efforts were futile. He went on to say that Tabor’s response was full of malice and contempt, and it is for this reason that he saw it fit to take legal recourse.
In the lawsuit, he charges, “Despite public denials by the Claimant and others, the Defendant has made no attempt to retract allegations or reach out to the Claimant but has broadcasted and continued to broadcast calypsos in which the same allegation made by Tabor is repeated.”
At the time that the PM threatened to sue in April, and demanded an apology from Tabor, the UPP spokesman had made it clear that no apology would be made. He also responded to the PM, through his father and lawyer Charlesworth Tabor, in writing.
Due to numerous related issues, the OBSERVER Media Group has taken the decision that it will no longer accommodate the UPP’s Public Relations Officer, Tabor, on live programming until he furnishes the company with a waiver and indemnity.
He will, however, be allowed to participate in non-live media broadcasts and publications. Management states, “As a responsible media organisation, we reserve the right to implement these restrictions on any politician or contributor, regardless of political affiliation, that the organisation deems too risky.”

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