PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Friday July 31, 2015 – Comments embattled politician Jack Warner made almost two years ago could cost him almost TT$900,000 (US$141,748), after a High Court judge ruled that he pay compensation to former Cabinet colleague Anand Ramlogan for defaming him.
But attorneys for the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) leader say they will appeal the decision handed down by Justice Robin Mohammed yesterday.
A smiling Ramlogan emerged from the Hall of Justice in the capital after the judge ordered Warner to pay him TT$600,000 (US$94,499) in general damages, TT$200,000 (US$31,499) in exemplary damages, and TT$94,000 (US$14,804) in prescribed costs, for alleging on a political platform in October 2013 that the former attorney general had corruptly obtained 51 properties.
In a 57-page judgment, Justice Mohammed ruled that Warner had failed to provide proof of his allegation.
— hema ramkissoon (@hema_ramkissoon) July 30, 2015
Ramlogan had denied owning the properties.
During the trial, Warner, who is facing corruption charges – related to his role as vice-president of world football governing body FIFA – had told the court that what he said on the platform had been told to him by Ramlogan when they served together in Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s Cabinet. He also claimed that he and Ramlogan had been good friends for two decades and what he said on the ILP platform was not intended to hurt his character or reputation.
But Justice Mohammed rejected Warner’s arguments, saying that the former United National Congress (UNC) deputy leader was seeking to gain political mileage ahead of local government elections when he made the allegation.
“Such objective of political gain ought not to have been pursued at the costs of lowering the claimant’s reputation in the estimation of right-thinking members of the public, discrediting the claimant in his Office of the Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago and exposing the claimant and his family to ridicule and contempt, particularly in circumstances where the defendant showed no evidence or belief in the truth of the defamatory statements,” the judge said.
In a post on his Facebook page shortly after the ruling, Ramlogan celebrated his name being cleared and blasted Warner for making outrageous accusations against people “for maximum impact and shock value”.
He had earlier told reporters outside the court house that he believed the judgment in his case was just one of many to come against Warner, as he had made a habit of making “the most scandalous accusations without a shred of evidence” to back them up.
Warner was not in the court when the judgment was delivered.