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Enrico Woolford wins default judgement in libel suit against Health Advisor

Former Chief Executive Officer of the National Communications Network (NCN), Enrico Woolford has been awarded default judgement in a $150 million libel suit he filed against Advisor to the Health Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy. The decision was rendered on Wednesday by Justice Fidela Corbin-Lincoln who is yet to fix a date for an assessment of damages hearing.

In a statement released on Friday, Woolford’s lawyer Eusi Anderson said his client is grateful for the ruling of the Judge in the lawsuit for which Ramsammy claimed that he aided in the alleged rigging of the March 2020 General and Regional Elections. Default judgments are granted in keeping with the Civil Procedures Rules when the defendant to a claim fails to file a defence within the prescribed time.

“My client tried to bring the proceedings to Dr. Ramsammy’s attention both through personal service and then through substituted service. In both situations, he incurred tremendous expense and failed to serve Dr. Ramsammy,” said Anderson in the missive. According to the lawyer, his client expresses confidence in the judicial system.

Anderson added, “My client looks forward to removing, with the passage of time and financial damages, the stain of alleged election rigging from his name in local, regional, and international quarters. He exhausted the judicial process and was vindicated in the end. He played no role in the alleged rigging of the March 2020 General and Regional Elections.”

In February 20201, Woolford filed a lawsuit against Ramsammy and the Guyana Times newspaper over the publication of an article that alleges he colluded with the APNU/AFC to rig the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections.

Woolford, a veteran journalist, claimed that he was defamed on March 18, 2020, in a column titled: “Ramsammy’s Ruminations” which was written by Dr Ramasamy and published in the Guyana Times’ print and online editions.

In a Statement of Claim, Woolford sought more than $150 million in damages from Dr Ramsammy and the Times Media Group Inc., publisher of the Guyana Times newspaper print/online edition- hereinafter referred to as the defendants.

He had also asked 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 had further asked 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 argued 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 submitted 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 Commonwealththe Organisation of American States and CARICOM must sanction both him and his family members.

He further submitted that any right-thinking citizen reading the article would conclude that he is dishonestof questionable character and devoid of integrity, unscrupulous, engaged in illegal activities and unethical behaviour, and is not professional.

Woolford contended that the publication has inflicted damage on his name, income, future earning capacity, and international reputation.

Woolford had noted 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 Electionsa founding member of Transparency International’s Guyana Institute. At the time of the publication of the libelous article, he stated 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, too, that 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 argued 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 noted.