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A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change’s (APNU+AFC) Member of Parliament (MP) Jermaine Figueira is suing Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton and Attorney General, Anil Nandlall together with three media outlets for $900M over defamatory statements, which claimed that he misappropriated State funds allocated under the Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) programme.
Editor-in-Chief, Shamain Grainger and Publisher, Glenn Lall of Kaieteur News; the Editor-in-Chief of the Guyana Times, Tusika Martain, and the Department of Public Information (DPI) are among the respondents listed in the Statement of Claim filed in the High Court by Figueira’s Lawyers, Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde and Olayne Joseph.
In several media reports, the Region 10 MP was accused of receiving more than $5M for a project under the SLED programme in 2019, but he has refuted the claims.
In the Court documents seen by Village Voice News, Figueira’s Attorneys said that the defamatory statements were made by Hamilton on his Facebook Page and in a statement to DPI between January 22 and 24.
In the DPI report published under the headline “Millions of dollars unaccounted for under Region 10 community projects – Minister Hamilton,” Figueira was accused of using approximately $5M of State resources for the execution of the project on a private property.
On January 25, 2021, Kaieteur News published that a report under the headline “Coalition MP collected $5.7M for construction of pig pen using unregistered association,” in which it named Figueira, and accused him of using tax payers dollars to fund the project under the Green Jaguar Environmental and Community Development Co-operative Society in Wisroc, Linden, though it had not been registered.
In Guyana Times, a Letter to the Editor was published under the title “Mouth open story jump out in Region 10,” in which, the Regional MP was also accused of misappropriation of funds.
Senior Counsel Forde told the Court that “at no time was the Claimant involved in any illegal activities referred to in the aforesaid publications of the 22nd and 25th days of January, 2021.” He also refuted the claim that the Regional MP received $5.7M for the extension of pig pens via a cooperative society.
Now, Figueira is claiming damages in excess of $100M against Hamilton for libel published on his Facebook and subsequently republished on the internet through the page of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).
He is also asking the Court to award him in excess of $150M for damages caused as a result of statements made by Hamilton, which were published on January 24 and 25, 2021, in Kaieteur News and Guyana Times. He also wants another $100M for the statements published by the DPI.
The Region 10 MP is also claiming damages in excess of $150M against Kaieteur News, its Editor-in-Chief and Publisher. Further, he is claiming damages in excess of $100M against the Guyana Times and its Editor-in-Chief for the contents of the Letter of the Editor, in which he was accused of misappropriation of state funds.
He is also suing the Attorney General and DPI for $50M, and Kaieteur News and its team, an addition $150M for libel. Similarly, he is suing Guyana Times for an additional $100M for libel.
Through his lawyers, Figueira has asked the Court to issue an Order for Hamilton to issue a retraction and apology for the false statements made in the local newspapers and media outlets, impugning his character. He also wants Guyana Times, Kaieteur and DPI to issue both retractions and apologies for the false statements published.