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Former President David Arthur Granger is suing Kit Nascimento, Communications Consultant, together with Stabroek News, Kaieteur News, and Guyana Times Newspapers for $2,650,000,000 for libel. According to his Statement of Claim, filed by Roysdale Forde, S.C., Mr. Granger is of the opinion his name and reputation are being brought into disrepute by alleged false accusations made by Mr. Nascimento, in his letters to the media that he, Mr. Granger, attempted to rig the 2020 Elections.
The media, local and international, have not been immune from being sued for reportage or opinion pieces. It is a hazard of media life even though media operatives and owners seek to avoid or minimise it.
It is also viewed by journalists as one way of restricting freedom of speech and oppressive judgments in recent times have unnerved media houses.
Sometimes these things just happen. In the instance of Mr. Granger’s libel case, it would stimulate attention given what he is suing for. The 2020 Elections continue to attract attention and derision, depending on who speaks and what aspects are spoken to.
There is also no denying that from post voting day (March 3, 2020) to declaration on August 2, by the Guyana Elections Commission, the elections have been marred in controversy. Persons have been accused of rigging the elections. The truth is there has not been any serious efforts to ascertain what really happened, who are responsible, and who should be held accountable from polling day management to what was found in the boxes that were opened during the Recount Exercise.
There have been accusations and counter accusations, the typical Guyana finger pointing, and the Police have gotten involved in doing some investigations. What will become of those investigations only time will tell. Elections petitions are also before the courts awaiting final judgement. In the meantime, only those who want to ignore the irregularities found during the Recount would deny the elections were not compromised and some ballot boxes within the People’s Progressive Party/Civic stronghold were without legal documents.
That Mr. Granger has allegedly been accused of rigging the elections those who have so accused him will be given their day in court to prove. In addition to seeking more than $2.6 billion in cost for libel, Mr. Granger is asking the Court to order the defendants in the matter to retract the letters and opinion pieces and apologise to him. He also wants an injunction barring further publication of the letters and opinion pieces. The hearings would undoubtedly attract attention given its implication of making assertions and being required to prove them. Hopefully, the matter would also answer a critical question, that is, where does free speech starts and ends. The Court will likely hear the case and the judgment resulting from the hearing will guide society’s behaviour.