KINGSTON: Former Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has been awarded J$12.5 million (one Jamaica dollar =US$0.0089 cents) in damages from a 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. Patterson was among the passengers.
In her judgement, Justice Paulette Williams highlighted key issues in the case.
“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,” she ruled.
Justice Williams said that the story was broadcast to many listeners and ought not to have entered the public domain.
She also noted that Nationwide News Network contended that it had received 20 pieces of information throughout the day and this was followed by information received from the Solicitor General.
Nationwide News Network also contended that it had asserted, in its defence, that the broadcast addressed issues of public interest. The network said it had a moral and social duty to broadcast the information about Patterson.
K.D. Knight, lead counsel for Patterson, was not surprised by the outcome. He said several attempts were made to have the matter dealt with out of court, to no avail.
“We felt very comfortable with the case that we had to deal with,” said Knight.