TRINIDAD-Chief Justice starts to sue media houses

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Lawyers for embattled Chief Justice, Ivor Archie, have sent pre-action protocol letters to two media houses affiliated with the One Caribbean Media (OCM) here after they published what they termed to be defamatory images and reports against their client.

“The Chief Justice had these photographs which inflict great damage on him to be subjected to independent forensic analysis by subject matter technical experts in the United States,” the attorneys wrote in their letters to the Trinidad Express newspaper and the Caribbean Communications Network Television 6 (CCN TV6) on Friday.

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Chief Justice Ivor Archie (File Photo)

“These experts have confirmed, unequivocally, that both the first photograph and the second photograph have been electronically doctored and manipulated and contain images which are false representations of the subject matter of the photographs,” the letter added.

The letter said that the experts have concluded the images have been “photoshopped” and the attorneys said the “doctoring of photograph has the clear and obvious aim of portraying our client in a manner designed to cause him distress and embarrassment, such as to hound him out of office”.

In their letter, the attorneys said that the Chief Justice had been advised that the articles published by the Trinidad Express newspaper “are highly defamatory of him personally and in his office and that they falsely, improperly and maliciously suggest that the Chief Justice is corrupt and knowingly used his office in concert with convicts for their benefit by seeking to persuade the judiciary and /or otherwise obtain a private security contract for judges’ personal safety”.

The lawyers have also taken issue with allegations that the Chief Justice used his office to intentionally defraud innocent persons to obtain houses from the housing Development Corporation (HDC).

“In the circumstances, our client requires from you a full and unequivocal public apology and retraction and an undertaking that these grossly false allegations, which are contrary to the evidence that you have in your possession, will not be repeated,” the lawyers said.

In addition, they wrote that the Chief Justice “requires that you remove the published articles from the Trinidad Express website which continues to publish the libelous statements”.

The media houses have been given a 48-hour deadline after receiving the pre-action protocol letter to provide a written undertaking that there will be no re-publishing of the photographs.

Last month, the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) said it had retained two senior lawyers to examine the possibility of approaching Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to initiate impeachment proceedings against the Chief Justice.

In an email sent to its members, LATT secretary Elena Araujo said the committee set up to investigate the allegations would report to the Council on or before December 29 and two senior lawyers will be retained to advise on the question of whether there is sufficient basis to refer a question of misbehaviour by the Chief Justice to the Prime Minister for his consideration under Section 137 of the Constitution.

Araujo said that upon receiving the advice from the committee, the LATT will convene a meeting of the general membership to “consider such advice and obtain directions as to the way forward.”

Last month, Chief Justice Archie, indicating that he is not at “liberty’ to say much at this time, denied media reports regarding the security of judges in Trinidad and Tobago.

“Specialised Units of the Trinidad and Tobago Protective Services and the Judiciary Security Unit are the only entities responsible for assessing and implementing arrangements for the personal security of Judges and Magistrate.

“It is therefore false, and indeed irresponsible that at any Judge’s meeting, the Chief or any other Judge discussed the retention of any private security firm for the purpose of providing the said personal security,” Archie said in a brief statement.

Media reports in recent days have linked Chief Justice Archie to discussing security arrangements for judges with a personal friend and last month, the friend, Dillian Johnson, told police that he had information on individuals who want to kill him.

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The Antigua News Room aims to deliver accurate, breaking news and current affairs to the public with immediacy.

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