“I feel vindicated”.
Those were the words uttered to THE NEW TODAY newspaper by Political Leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Nazim Burke after he won a defamation case brought against an activist of the ruling New National Party (NNP).
Burke had retained local attorney-at-law, Alban John to file the lawsuit against Ian Edwards of Tivoli who hosted a pro-NNP talk show programme called “Hard Talk” that often took swipes at him.
Edwards who is from Tivoli in St. Andrew’s had alleged in one of his programmes in 2013 that Burke was in financial trouble when coming into office as Minister of Finance in 2008 and soon after had been able to acquire four to five houses.
According to the case filed in the High Court, the former broadcaster was heard making statements to the effect that Burke’s “house was up for sale when he was in opposition and that such sale was not his choice but forced upon him due to inability to pay his debts or his mortgage”.
The lawsuit said that what Edwards was attempting to do was give the impression that:-
* “The Claimant’s house was being sold while he was in opposition by a financial institution, to whom he was indebted;
*“The Claimant, while in opposition, was in a state of personal financial crisis;
*“The Claimant, upon assuming office in Government, mysteriously averted or reversed his state of financial crisis and acquired 3 or 4 other properties in the process;
*“The Claimant used his public office to enrich himself and his family;
*“The Claimant acquired property in his name and for his personal use by using funds that he had pilfered from the state;
*“The Claimant utilised public funds for his own personal gratification and to augment his personal finances and assets;
*“The claimant misappropriated public funds and used them for his own benefits;
*“The claimant swindled government funds and defrauded the people of Grenada; and
*“The claimant was corrupt or engaged in corrupt practices while in public office.”
It was on this basis that Burke sued for defamation of character in August of 2013.
The NDC Leader won the case as Edwards failed to put in a defense to the allegations.
The NNP operative sought to appeal the judgment but the Court of Appeal brushed it aside at a sitting in early December.
Burke told this newspaper on Wednesday that he feels “relieved that at the very least the truth of the matter is in the public domain”.
“It (the allegation about the house) was never true. It was wrong for Mr. Edwards to publish the story without checking its truthfulness or even asking me a question”, he said.
“It (the court decision) sends an important lesson to Radio Talk Show hosts that they do not have a licence to go about tarnishing people’s character without consequences”, he added.
The Court did not set a financial figure for Burke to be compensated by Edwards but said the damages are “to be assessed together with interest and costs.”