Front Page
May 30, 2008
Astaphan: $75,000 offer an insult to PM

Controversial talk show host Elwardo Lynch has the full support of his political party in his ongoing court battle with Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, and his voice will continue to be heard.{{more}}

This, according to the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) president, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, who told SEARCHLIGHT that the question need not be asked.

“Of course he has the party’s support. He was on the party’s programme. He has the party’s full support,” Eustace said.

Following two days of hearing before Master Cheryl Maturin on May 23rd and 24th, no decision has been reached with regard to the damages that will be paid by Lynch and Nice Radio for falsely and maliciously accusing Dr Gonsalves of corruptly using state funds to pay for airline tickets from St Vincent to Rome and accommodation for his daughter and mother.

Justice Gertel Thom had earlier ruled that Lynch’s comments on the New Times radio programme, about the 2003 Vatican trip, defamed Dr Gonsalves.

Justice Thom’s decision was upheld by the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, with Justice of Appeal Denys Barrow describing the appeal by Lynch as “one of those cases where the defendant had no realistic prospect of success.”

Attorneys for Lynch and BDS Limited, operators of Nice Radio, have up to June 18 to make legal submissions, before the hearing on June 30th.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that attorneys for the defendants are willing to offer a public apology to Dr Gonsalves for the statements made, and even made a $75,000 settlement offer, which was rejected by counsel for Dr Gonsalves.

“We consider that offer an insult to the Prime Minister, we are not even considering it,” said Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan, who is leading Dr Gonsalves’ legal team.

“We are not accepting any $75,000. You could forget that,” Astaphan said, adding that nothing less than $200,000 would be acceptable.

Whatever the final award is, at least Lynch can be sure that he will not be bearing the burden alone.

In the meantime, local charities set to benefit from the Prime Minister’s generosity will have to wait at least another month to find out how much money will be added to their coffers.

Dr Gonsalves has said that the money he is awarded from the case with Lynch will be donated to charity.