Woolford asks court to intervene as Health Advisor evading service of lawsuit

(L- Health Advisor Dr. Leslie Ramsammy and Former NCN CEO Mr Enrico Woolford)

Former Chief Executive Officer of the National Communications Network (NCN), Enrico Woolford has filed an application at the Demerara High Court asking for service of a libel lawsuit he filed against Advisor to the Health Ministry Dr. Leslie Ramsammy be effected on him through two consecutive Saturday advertisements in the Stabroek News.

Back in February 2021, Woolford through his lawyer Eusi Anderson mounted a $185 defamation claim against Ramsammy and Guyana Times over an article that alleges he colluded with the APNU/AFC to rig the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections. But since then, he has been unable to effect personal service of the claim on Ramsammy. As a result, the case has been stalled.

In his application to effect service via newspaper advertisement, Woolford said, “No less than four attempts were made to effect personal service on [Ramsammy] at his place of residence and his Ministry of Health office. All were unsuccessful.” According to him, Dr Ramsammy has been evading service of the legal document by refusing to respond or come out of his office.

Woolford said that the inability to serve the documents on Dr Ramsammy has impeded the overriding objective which is to deal with matters justly and expeditiously.  As such, he noted that the Civil Procedure Rules of 2016 specifically provides the Court to dispense with personal service where the circumstances warrant the orders he is seeking.

Woolford, a veteran journalist, claims 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 is seeking more than $185 million in damages from Dr Ramsammy and Times Media Group Inc., publisher of the Guyana Times newspaper print/online editions.

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. He 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 him, on March 18, 2020, under a 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 statements were published without him being allowed to exonerate himself. He said, too, 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 Commonwealththe 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 dishonestof 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.

He 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. He said that he was a Director of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union, an Official Commonwealth Observer in the 2017 Bahamas Electionsand a founding member of Transparency International’s Guyana Institute.

At the time of the publication of the slanderous article, Woolford outlined that 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.