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Former Jamaican Prime Minister Awarded $12Mil in Libel Case

PJ-PATTERSONFormer Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has been awarded J$12.5 million (One Jamaica dollar =US$0.0089 cents) in damages in the libel case against Nationwide News Network and its head, Cliff Hughes.

The award resulted from a news article aired in 2009 that defamed Patterson.

It concerned an incident at Norman Manley International Airport involving a special charter flight from Cuba. Mr. Patterson was among the passengers.

In a 135 paragraph judgement, Justice Paulette Williams highlighted key issues in coming to her conclusion.

Justice Williams argued in part that: “…the fact that at the time the information was received, it may well have been considered to be a subject matter of public concern, and the information turned out to be false and this meant, that in reality the public received misinformation.”

Justice Williams added that the story was broadcast to many listeners and ought not to have entered the public domain.

The judge also noted that Nationwide contended that it had received 20 pieces of information throughout the day and this was followed by information received from the Solicitor General.

Nationwide also contended that it had asserted, in its defence, that the broadcast addressed issues of public interest and, in all the circumstances, it was under a moral and social duty to broadcast the information about Patterson.

Meanwhile, K.D Knight, lead counsel for Patterson, said the outcome was not a surprise.

He said several attempts were made to have the matter dealt with out of court, to no avail; “and having to court, we felt very comfortable with the case that we had to deal with.”

He said money was never an issue for the former Prime Minister.

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