High Court Judge Sandra Kurtzious in a default judgment has ordered Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo to pay $20 million in damages to former junior Minister of Communities Annette Ferguson who had filed a libel lawsuit against him last year.
The default judgment was as a result of Jagdeo’s failure to file a defence within the required time and is provided for under Part 12:01 (2) (d) of the Civil Procedure Rules of the Supreme Court of Judicature.
Last year, Ferguson, who served as a minister under the previous APNU/AFC Government filed a libel suit against Jagdeo, who was the then Leader of the Opposition and Guyana Times in which she sought more than $20 million in damages for the libel.
The lawsuit stemmed from statements made by Jagdeo in which said that Ferguson acquired significant wealth within only two years of serving in the Government.
Jagdeo alleged that the former minister used public office to acquire several plots of lands at Eccles, East Bank Demerara on which she was building a sprawling house.
The statements made by Jagdeo were later published in the Guyana Times. In the lawsuit, Ferguson maintained the statements were slanderous and untrue and caused irreparable damage to her character and reputation.
Moreover, Ferguson had argued that the statements and publications suggested that she acquired unexplained wealth by dishonest means.
The former Government minister had called on Jagdeo and Guyana Times to provide evidence to the court to support the statements.
The former APNU/AFC Government Minister contended that the article was deliberately written and circulated by Guyana Times to tarnish her reputation and to cause right-thinking persons to think that she is a corrupt and dishonest person.
Apart from $20 million in damages, Jagdeo was also ordered to pay $75,000 in court costs to Ferguson.
A Court Order seen by this publication made it clear that if Jagdeo fails to comply with the terms of the Order, he will be held in Contempt of Court, and may be liable to imprisonment or to have his assets confiscated. In the meantime, Ferguson’s lawsuit against Guyana Times is still before the Court.