November 12, 2010
News Editor apologises to Dr. Gonsalves

Editor of The News, Shelley Clarke, has written a letter of apology to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves in relation to “offending statements” published by the newspaper in a letter to the Editor.{{more}}

This was confirmed by Grahame Bollers, the Lawyer for the Prime Minister.

Bollers acknowledged that his firm is examining the statements further, with a view towards taking legal action.

The statements considered libellous were published on pages 8 and 10 of the Friday, November 5, edition of The News under the headline “The Changing of the Comrade”.

“I have read the letter. I agree with your assessment that the statements which you complained of are baseless and indefensible,” said Clarke, in a letter to the Prime Minister the same day the offending letter was published.

In his apology, the Editor told the Prime Minister that even though they had not always seen eye to eye, he had always been mindful of his responsibility to act as a responsible editor. Clarke stated that it had never been his intention to publish scurrilous statements about the Prime Minister or any other person.

“I apologize unreservedly for the publication of those statements. This was an unusual week. We were traumatized by and preoccupied with Hurricane Tomas,” said Clarke, adding: “The statements in that letter simply escaped my notice. As you are aware, each article and letter which appears in The News is scrutinized by our lawyers prior to publication. The fact that the statements escaped the notice of our lawyers is an indication of the distracting effect of the hurricane,” Clarke explained.

He told Gonsalves that he trusts that he will accept the apology in the spirit in which it was given.

“Although we have disagreed both publicly and privately when I have published articles concerning matters of national importance, I have never launched a personal attack on you. It would certainly never have entered my head to publish anything in The News critical of you with malicious intention,” Clarke further explained.

Meanwhile, Bollers in a media release dated November 8 said that despite the apology, the statements against the Prime Minister were too serious and warranted further action.

Bollers said that he would be writing to the Editor of The News, in respect of publishing a letter of retraction and possible compensation.

Bollers did not disclose the nature of the compensation.