The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal filed by former political leader of the Congress of the People (COP), Prakash Ramadhar , against a High Court ruling in favour of his brother and others from the COP.
With the dismissal of the appeal, Ramadhar will have to comply with the order of the High Court and pay compensation to his brother, Kishore Ramadhar, Rudolph Hanamji and Satu Ann Ramcharan, for slandering their names.
The appeal stemmed from the ruling which was handed down by Justice Vasheist Kokaram in 2015, who found that Ramadhar, former COP chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan and founding member Iqbal Hydal had made slanderous statements against the claimants and, as such, ordered that they pay damages for defamation of character.
According to the judges, “It was a collateral and unrelated attack on the claimants with the intention of bolstering his position as leader of the party and the direction of the party at the expense of the claimants’ reputation.”
Even though all three were ordered to pay compensation, only Ramadhar challenged the court’s ruling by way of appeal.
On Friday, the Court of Appeal, comprising Chief Justice Ivor Archie, and Justices Gregory Smith and Prakash Moosai, found by a 2-1 majority ruling, that Justice Kokaram was “patently aware of the law” and properly applied the law to the facts and circumstances that were before him during the trial.
Archie and Smith found that the appeal should be dismissed while Moosai found that it should have been allowed.
Smith said, “The exercise was fairly performed and in the present case I find no reason to second guess the impressions he (Justice Kokaram) formed and the findings he made on the contested facts before him.”
Ramadhar was ordered to pay $90,000 to his brother and Hanamji and an additional $75,000 to Ramcharan.
The defamation lawsuit was filed by the claimants after Ramadhar, Seepersad-Bachan and Hydal made defamatory statements during one of the party’s National Council meetings in November 2013, in which they allegedly accused the claimants of providing information to the then-Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) about the COP’s membership.
After the allegations arose against them, the claimants were suspended from the COP’s national executive council.