A defamation dispute involving Prime Minister Gaston Browne and US-based Antiguan national and political adviser Dr Isaac Newton is headed for the courts.
Antigua News Room (ANR) was informed that the parties made an appearance before a judge in chamber on Tuesday to try to come to an agreement on the matter.
However, Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst told ANR that the parties have decided that they are not going to settle, and therefore the matter will go before the Master for some issues to be dealt with before the matter proceeds to trial.
Sources told this media house that the prime minister was not present when the matter came up for hearing before the judge and he had to be called to the court.
The chief of staff threw water on this allegation, and made it clear that PM Browne was in fact present for the hearing from the inception.
This case reportedly stems from comments the prime minister made in a March 20, 2017, press release.
Browne is alleged to have questioned Dr Newton’s stewardship as an ambassador under the former United progressive Party (UPP) administration.
Browne’s critique of Newton, an Antigua and Barbuda-born international management consultant, was in response to him (Newton) being critical of comments Browne made in parliament in response to the US State Department’s 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) annual study.
The report had outlined that Antigua and Barbuda had too many allegations of corruption, and that those implicated had not faced justice. The Oderbrecht/Meinl Bank eight million dollars bribery scandal, in which it is alleged that two high profile government officials were involved and the purported laxness of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP), were also touched upon in the report.
By way of letter dated April 3, 2017, lawyers for Newton notified the prime minister that his comments in the press release had defamed their client.
The lawyers claim that Browne’s comments were intent on tainting their client’s reputation and causing him ridicule.
Browne was given until April 10 to retract his statements and make an apology through a published letter of which the terms were to be approved by Dr Newton.
Newton, through his attorneys, also wanted Browne to give a commitment in writing that the comments he made would not be repeated and for him to pay legal fees and damages for injuring his reputation.
Browne was notified in the letter that failure to comply with Newton’s requests would result in legal action being taken.
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The only man with a bigger ego than Newton is Trump.
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