Finance Minister Colm Imbert has been awarded $525,000 in a defamation matter against PEP leader Phillip Alexander.
Alexander had falsely alleged that the minister had purchased an exotic Swedish sports car for US$2M using forex that was obtained by corrupt means or by abuse of his office as the MOF.
The news of the win was shared by Imbert himself via his social media pages.
Alexander’s posts were published on 29 February 2020 and 1 March 2020.
In the judgment, Justice Jacqueline Wilson KC said Alexander’s statements did not meet the criteria of fair comment. She found Alexander failed to “establish that the steps he had taken to gather and publish the information were responsible and fair. ”
She went on to state, “Although there is a significant public interest in determining that foreign exchange reserves are distributed in a fair and transparent manner, the defendant has failed to demonstrate that he took reasonable steps to verify that the allegations made against the claimant were true. The tone of the publications was neither measured nor circumspect but may be labelled as cavalier or even dramatic. ”
Justice Wilson based the award of damages on several similar judgments including another defamation case Alexander lost against businessman Andrew Gabriel.
“On the facts of this case and having regard to the nature of the allegations, the manner and duration of the publications and the claimant’s status as Minister of Finance, I have concluded that an award in the sum of $525,000.00 is appropriate compensation to the claimant as general damages.”