Abraham Mansoor Esau Manooor Edward Mansoor Abdo Mansoor & Sons Ltd Trading as Town House Furnishing Claimants v Grenville Radio Ltd First Defendant Ivor Grenville Theophilus Bird Second Defendant James "SLY J" Simon Third Defendant James Tanny Rose Fourth Defendant [ECSC]
|Antigua and Barbuda
|12 October 2007
|Judgment citation (vLex)
| ECSC J1012-1
|High Court (Antigua)
|SUIT NO. ANUHCV 2004/0408
|12 October 2007
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
SUIT NO. ANUHCV 2004/0408
Mr. Gerald Watt QC with Dr. David Dorsett for the Claimants
Mr. Hugh Marshall Jnr and Mrs. Cherissa Roberts-Thomas for the First, Second and Third Defendants
Mr. Steadroy Benjamin for the Fourth Defendant
This is an amended claim for slander.
Mr. Abraham Mansoor (Abraham), Mr. Esau Mansoor (Esau), Mr. Edward Mansoor (Edward) (referred to also as the Mansoors) are directors of and closely associated with Abdo Mansoor & Sons (Abdo Mansoor) which is a private company limited by shares withits registered office situated at Market & Tanner Streets and trading as Town House Furnishings at Market Street of Saint John in the State of Antigua and Barbuda.
Grenville Radio Limited (Grenville Radio) is a company registered in the State of Antigua and Barbuda with its registered office situate at Bird Road Ottos, St John's, Antigua. It is the owner and operator of a local radio station known as ZDK Radio which has a wide listening public.
Mr. Ivor Grenville Theophilus Bird (Mr. Bird) is and was at all material times the General Manager and program director and responsible for the general operation, administration and programming of the ZDK Radio.
Mr. James "Sly J" Simon (Mr. Simon) is an employee and/or agent of the Grenville Radio and is a Talk Show host on several programmes on Z.D.K Radio and particularly a show known as "Your View" which permits the general public to air its views.
Mr. James Tanny Rose is a member of the general public, a social activist, a media consultant and a leading activist in the Antigua Labour Party. He regularly calls into ZDK radio to voice his views on a number of issues.
In the Amended Claim, the Mansoors and Abdo Mansoor allege that, on or about the 15th day of July 2004, during the course of a radio program entitled "Your View" hosted by Mr. Simon on ZDK Radio, the Grenville Radio, Mr. Bird, Mr. Simon and Mr. Rose falsely and maliciously caused words to be published of and concerning them as a consequence of which they were defamed. The Mansoors and Abdo Mansoor also contend that Grenville Radio, Mr. Bird, Mr. Simon and Mr. Rose also allowed a female anonymous caller to publish defamatory words about them; accordingly they contend that the defendants are liable for their alleged defamation based on the words spoken by both Mr. Rose and the caller.
The words complained of are as follows:
'How can Dr Cort justify telling me or you or the whole country that things is worse than ever when he a give Abdo Mansoor five (5 trailer load of things tax free, duty free and all the free in the world.…so when you gave away all the concessions to all your campaign team (wonder if you understand what I mean) and under the guise of local, when you turn the government into insurance company by giving persons concessions for all them things under the guise of they burn in fire that is the reason why the economy is worse than ever. That is the reason.
Anyway Sly J, remember some time ago I mention that Mansoor got five containers gratis.
But what I got in my hand Sly, is a copy of the request that was made by Mansoor himself you see when he make noise and he lock down the custom end me go at his end cause he no treat he workers and them good so them glad fu gi me things from him.
Cabinet Decision #28 of 25th May 2004. This is what all Errol Cort and his government give to the Mansoors.
"Now Sly, all them things is supposed to damage in the fire. Now Sly let me say this. Mansoor rented 3500 square feet of space right at the place that was burned. I am asking you Sly, I am not saying it is impossible for all them things there to hold in 35 square foot, but some engineer or somebody will have fu come come tell me how all them things hold in that small space there.
Now they get in all right 462 stove. That enough stove fu keep them for over 6 years, according to what the person tell me they sell normally. They get 190 fridges and 225 washers. They have enough things to keep them for over 5 years. Now tell me how can the other business places compete? Everything come to one million (right) nineteen thousand and thirty-five dollars and fifty cents ($1,019.035.50). Now the duty on this is 80%. So that is over $800,000 they get from our taxpayers money. That is only for duty. When you add in the customs service tax it is even more. And when you add in the white the $100 for every one of them equipment you see the amount of money that Errol Cort and this government has given to the Mansoors and them get all them things there? They have enough stock that will last five years imported in his business unless they get a good price overseas? And I want to find out from the police, what kind of claim the Mansoors sent in when they had the fire. And how is it, I am no engineer, but I want to know how all them things here hold in 3500 square feet of space. I want to find out that. I want to find out from the government how they know that what Mansoor submit here is the amount that they really lost. They need to tell us if they feel that Mansoor pad the list. But they could not have felt so, because everything Mansoor submitted they have given them carte blanche, cabinet decision 28, #28 25th May, 2004.
Now sly, you tell me a little man bring in a little thing down at the harbour and the custom officer doing the job, in all fairness to them, they put on de charge. You think them feel good to know that Mansoor place bun down and the Sunshine Government gives them all them things here duty free? Two hundred and fifty two of one stove, right 38 Magic Chef Washers, all kinds of things that them have there, Sly, that can't be fair?
And Errol Cort is bragging before the Chamber of Commerce that he save money by sending home poor people on the job program. If you read the article he is saying that they have money because they send home poor people. And in the same breath he is giving Mansoor this $800,000 for duty that he gave to Mansoor could have paid—kept the job program going for another three years…and he give Mansoor them that richer than everything else than you can imagine and he give them nearly a $1 million in tax payers money for duty because their place burn down that should have insured. That cannot be right. Sly, read page eight of the Observer, you see that?
Female anonymous caller: I'm just calling to tell you this. The stoves and the fridge and everything else that the Mansoors get is what they were giving out for election bribes. So that is why now they get them back…That is what the Cort was giving them his people all over so now he give them back to them. That is what he does. That is the bribe that he was giving to his people so now he give them back them come in free."
The Mansoors and Abdo Mansoor further contend that the above words were also intended to mean and did convey the meaning that they were guilty of election fraud, sharp practices and they were dishonest businessmen, this caused them to be ridiculed and shunned. The publication of the words also made persons hold them in contempt and persons hate them. The Mansoors and Abdo Mansoor also contend that they are honest business persons and that they have been injured in their reputation. They argue that the natural and ordinary meanings of the words were dishonest and fraudulent and given to sharp practices in that they had deliberately lied to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda in order to obtain duty free concessions in circumstances in which they were notentitled to receive the concessions. The Mansoors and Abdo Mansoor further complain that the above words were meant that they had conspired with Dr. Cort to defraud and/or deprive the Government's revenue by grossly inflating the loss they had suffered when the warehouse in which they housed their goods was destroyed by fire. This false publication they contend has caused them to be discredited as businessmen and has resulted in other persons subsequently saying disparaging things about them (based on the words spoken by Mr. Rose and the female anonymous caller)
Accordingly, the Mansoors and Abdo Mansoor seek damages including exemplary and aggravated damages against all of the defendants for the alleged defamation. They also seek an injunction to restrain the defendants from further publishing those words or any other words that are defamatory of them. They fear that unless restrained the defendants would continue to disparage them.
The Grenville Radio, Mr. Bird and Mr. Simon, in their amended defence deny that they defamed the Mansoors and/or Abdo Mansoor as alleged or at all. Grenville Radio admits that Mr. Simon is its employee and that he hosts a programme styled "Your View" on which the public airs its views; further it admits the words were spoken by Mr. Rose. However, it denies that they were falsely or maliciously spoken. Grenville Radio, Mr. Bird and Mr. Simon contend that the words were published about the Government of Antigua and not Abdo Mansoor or the Mansoors. Significantly, they deny that the words were falsely or maliciously published in relation to the Mansoors. Further, they deny having any malice towards the Mansoors and they take issue with the ordinary and natural meaning ascribed to the words or the understanding of them as urged by the Mansoors. The first three defendants are adamant that the words were directed towards the Government of Antigua.
In addition, Mr. Bird, Mr. Simon and Grenville Radio accept no responsibility for the words spoken by the...
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