Trinidad MP wins defamation lawsuit over wealthy list

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Trinidad MP wins defamation lawsuit over wealthy list
Dr Roodal Moonilal
Dr Roodal Moonilal

(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – “It was a fake wealthy list. And I always knew I would be vindicated at the court and it came at a good time — when we are embarking on a (general election) campaign,” Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said yesterday,

He was speaking to the Express following his victory at the court in which he received a $475,000 judgment, plus $69,000 for legal costs, in a defamation lawsuit.

The lawsuit had been filed against the TnT Mirror and activist Juliet Davy for two articles which referred to Moonilal as being among the 25 richest people in Trinidad and Tobago.

The articles were based on a document circulating on social media, which listed the top 25 wealthiest people and stated that Moonilal had assets of more than $2 billion.

A judgment yesterday from Justice Robin Mohammed on the matter, which had been filed in 2016, found that Moonilal was entitled to aggravated damages as the defendants failed to issue an apology and repeated the “unverified information on the said list”.

Moonilal’s attorneys were Larry Lalla and Vivek Lakhan.

The lawyer for the Mirror and Davy was Michael Quamina.

Moonilal said yesterday: “This matter has caused me severe personal distress over the years in that it has put me and my family in the public domain as among the richest people in the country. I have had to pay for security at my home and to drive me all over the place. I argued in the court that it could not be true because my financial dealings are monitored by the Integrity Commission. I am one of the few people who received certificates of completion from the Integrity Commission. The FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit) also monitors all people in public life as well as the banking system.

“The document was a paid ad on social media, someone was secretly paying for it on social media to undermine my character, my integrity and my credibility.

“This is a PNM (People’s National Movement) made scandal,” the MP claimed, adding that the authors of the document were hell-bent on fabrications aimed at damaging him politically.

“Today, I am calling on the invisible authors and producers of the document and video to come forward,” he said.

Moonilal noted that the Mirror article in 2016 alleged that he was “fuelling crime”. “Today, National Security Minister Stuart Young was making the same claim,” he said. He issued a warning that anyone who comes outside of Parliament and makes the same claim will be sued.

Moonilal said he intends to make a copy of the judgment available to Young.

“And with the monies that have been awarded to me (today) I may well join Mr (Jack) Warner to buy a ticket for his (former) stepdaughter as well,” he said.

Moonilal also referred to his pre-action protocol letter to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley in which he (Rowley) made remarks about him in a text exchange with activist Kirk Waite.

He said the Prime Minister asked for extra time to reply to the pre-action protocol letter.

Moonilal said the lawsuit against the Mirror and Davies would serve as a guide for dealing with persons who intend to make “spurious allegations” against members of the Opposition.

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