Justice Carol Gobin will on March 8th give her decision in the defamation lawsuit that Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal filed against the Prime Minister and a newspaper, its editor in chief and its reporter.
Gobin set the date for delivering her decision this afternoon after she gave directions for filing submissions.
Moonilal took issue with a story published in the Trinidad Express on January 6th, 2020, which purportedly reported on an exchange of WhatsApp messages between Dr Rowley and Kirk Waithe, of the NGO Fixin’ T&T.
Moonilal also sued the Trinidad Express, its editor in chief and the reporter who wrote the January 6th, 2020 article.
Moonilal says the Prime Minister defamed him by inferring and implying he was involved in illegal and corrupt activities.
Senior political reporter at the Trinidad Express, Anna Ramdass, is also named in the suit, provided testimony yesterday and context on the article she penned which allegedly impugned Moonilal’s character back on January 6, 2020.
Ramdass defended herself against insinuations that she had failed to provide Moonilal with a fair hearing – as she explained that the story at the time centered around getting a response from Rowley regarding the calls by the Opposition for the removal of Camille Robinson-Regis from the Cabinet as a result of alleged financial impropriety.
Ramdass said there were several allegations of corruption being levelled against former UNC associates at the time. She said she had not specifically named anyone, although she confirmed Rowley had referred to Moonilal, and former Housing Development Corporation managing director Jearlean John and “one Rambachan.”
Claiming Rowley had raised allegations of corruption generally, Ramdass said there had been no need to contact Moonilal for a response, as that had not been the focus of the article at the time – and his response could have been pursued as a follow-up.
Ramdass added that allegations of corruption regarding Eden Gardens had been reported extensively at the time and as such, she paid it little to no importance.
She said Rowley’s response, which he had directed her to get from Fixing T&T’s Kirk Waithe, had been the main goal, as anything the Prime Minister said was treated as “important and urgent.”
Denying her and the Express Newspaper’s only focus had been on fuelling public interest, Ramdass said time constraints and deadlines would also have played a part in why she had not contacted former UNC officials to respond to the claims by Rowley.