PJ Patterson refers libellous email to lawyers
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday May 04, 2012 – Former Jamaica prime minister PJ Patterson is seeking legal advice with respect to a libellous email alleged to have been authored by Professor David Rowe.
“I have referred the matter to my lawyers and await their advice,” Patterson said in an interview. He withheld further comment pending word from his lawyers.
The former prime minister, himself an eminent lawyer, is not likely to treat the email lightly, given its global distribution via the Internet.
The email, bearing the name "Paul Azan", also libelled other prominent Jamaican politicians and businessmen, including former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, former Finance Minister Audley Shaw, former Information and Telecommunications Minister Daryl Vaz, former Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Christopher Tufton; Gordon 'Butch’ Stewart, chairman of the Sandals group, and his son Brian Jardim.
Tufton told the media that he was very distressed by the email and had received “many alarming calls about it". He said he has started legal consultations and would likely take his cue from actions now being pursued.
Vaz is the first of the group to have filed a libel suit against Rowe on April 13 in the Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County, Florida, claiming that Rowe, "hiding behind pseudonyms... fabricated and published a document purported to be an official 'US Law Enforcement Memo to Turks and Caicos Special Investigation and Prosecutions Team'."
The document made "direct accusations of bribery, money laundering, corruption and close affiliations with a notorious convicted drug lord", Vaz said in court papers.
Rowe, a Jamaican-born Florida attorney, has denied being the author of the document in question and filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit as it had failed "to state a cause of action on which relief may be granted or to establish subject matter jurisdiction".