Former Chief Ececutive Officer of the National Communications Network (NCN), Enrico Woolford has filed a $185 million libel suit against Guyana Times and one of the newspaper’s columnists Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, over an article that alleges he colluded with the APNU/AFC to rig the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections.
Woolford, a veteran journalist, through his lawyer, Eusi Anderson, claims he was defamed on March 18, 2020, in a column titled: “Ramsammy’s Ruminations” which was written by Dr Leslie Ramasamy and published in the Guyana Times’ print and online editions.
In a Statement of Claim, Woolford is seeking more than $185 million in damages from Dr Ramsammy and Times Media Group Inc., publisher of the Guyana Times newspaper print/online edition- hereinafter referred to as the defendants.
He is also asking the court for a mandatory injunction compelling Guyana Times, and Dr Ramsammy whether by themselves, or their servants to immediately remove the libelous article from the online edition of the newspapers.
The veteran journalist is also asking the court to order Guyana Times and Dr. Ramsammy to publish a retraction and apology to him in the print and electronic/online version of the newspaper for the false, malicious, and defamatory statements impugning his character and reputation.
He is also asking the court to award him costs, interests on all monetary awards for damages and any such or further orders the court deems just.
According to Woolford, on March 18, 2020, under the column titled: “Ramsammy’s Ruminations: Caricom, ABCE, Commonwealth, OAS — time for sanctions now, no more patience”, Dr Ramsammy made defamatory statements about him and his family concerning the March 2020 elections.
He said that the defendants published the statements without allowing him to exonerate himself.
He said that the allegations leveled against him are untrue, malicious and penned in undiluted falsehood, and made without due process or a hearing. Among other things, Woolford argues that the article suggests that he colluded with the APNU/AFC to rig the March 2, 2020, elections and attempted to subvert democracy and the will of the people of Guyana.
He submits that the article also suggests that he actively participated in the contamination and or perversion and or corrupt editing and or manufacturing of statements of poll.
According to him, the article infers that his alleged role in the rigging was so reprehensible that the international community including but not limited to the governments of the USA, UK, Canada, the European Union as well as the Commonwealth, the Organisation of American States and CARICOM must sanction both him and his family members.
He further submits that any right-thinking citizen reading the article would conclude that he is dishonest, of questionable character and devoid of integrity, unscrupulous, engaged in illegal activities and unethical behaviour, and is not professional.
Woolford contends that the publication has inflicted damage on his name, income, future earning capacity, and international reputation.
Woolford notes that Guyana Times and Dr Ramsammy ought to have known of the international and regional credibility associated with his name since at the time of the publication he was the recipient of the national award- the Golden Arrow of Achievement.
Woolford said that he was a Director of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union, an Official Commonwealth Observer in the 2017 Bahamas Elections, a founding member of Transparency International’s Guyana Institute.
At the time of the publication of the slanderous article, he states he was a member of the Board of Directors for the Volunteer Youth Corps, and the Theatre Guild.
According to him, he is a USA State Department accredited journalist through its foreign press centre in New York USA, ESPN, and a CNN marketing representative in Guyana.
Among other things, Woolford said he has worked for ABC News, NBC News, CBS News and Fox News, Aljazeera News, BBC News, and the Associated Press Television.
As a long-standing politician with decades of ministerial and parliamentary experience, Woolford contends that Dr Ramsammy knew or ought to have known that he had no role in the elections process especially in light of his established knowledge and expertise in the elections process.
“At the time of writing [Dr Ramsammy] was a candidate in several Guyanese elections; he must be imputed with knowledge of the process and key participants in each stage of the process,” he notes.