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Moonilal’s defamation lawsuit against activist:

Published: 
Friday, July 13, 2018

A High Court judge is expected to deliver judgment in a defamation case brought by Oropuche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal against political activist and newspaper columnist Juliet Davy in December.

Justice Robin Mohammed reserved his judgment following a trial of the case in the Port-of-Spain High Court yesterday.

Moonilal’s claim centres around two columns written by Davy and published by the TNT Mirror weekly newspaper between May and June 2016.

In the columns, Davy allegedly accused the former housing minister of becoming one of the richest persons in T&T through corruption.

The columns referred to a list published by website “imgur.com”, which claimed to identify the 25 richest persons in T&T. Moonilal appeared fourth on the list, which estimated his personal fortune at $2.58 billion.

Testifying yesterday, Moonilal claimed that the re-publication of the erroneous information caused irreparable harm and distress to his professional reputation.

However, he admitted that he did not seek to determine the origin of the list or contact the moderator of the site to have it or his name removed.

When she took the witness stand, Davy denied any wrongdoing as she contended the columns were commentary pieces, which fall under the defamation defence of fair comment.

“At the time of writing, I was doing my journalistic duties. As a columnist, I had a serious professional responsibility...I have always acted responsibly,” Davy said.

Under cross-examination from Moonilal’s attorney Larry Lalla, Davy admitted that she did not take steps to verify that accuracy of the online publication.

Presenting brief submissions at the start of the trial, Lalla claimed that the case was important due to the prevalence of defamatory posts on social media websites.

After hearing the evidence, Mohammed gave the parties a timetable for filing their submissions on legal issues in the case.

Mohammed stated that if the deadlines are met he would be able to deliver a judgment by mid-December.

Davy was represented by Michael Quamina.

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