DeFreitas: Nice Radio cannot afford to pay fine of EC$250,000
November 8, 2011

DeFreitas: Nice Radio cannot afford to pay fine of EC$250,000

Nice Radio has just a little over two weeks to make a decision about payment of EC$250,000, which was awarded to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves by the Court of Appeal.{{more}}

The company was served notice last Wednesday, November 2, that it had 21 days to indicate whether it would pay the money which was ordered, in relation to a defamation suit filed between 2002 and 2003 against Elwardo ‘E.G’ Lynch, host of the New Times radio programme and BDS Limited, owners of NICE Radio, after Lynch accused the Prime Minister of using public funds to take his family on a trip to Rome.

Douglas DeFreitas, manager of NICE Radio, told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday that a meeting with the legal team set up to look over the matter was expected to take place today, Tuesday, November 8.

He, however, explained that his company could not afford to pay the fine.

“Who has a quarter million dollars to pay for something like that?” DeFreitas asked.

He added that he was sure that the amount would have been difficult for even some of the larger business places in Kingstown to pay out.

The defendants have lost all three appeals at the Court of Appeal and in July, the court ruled that Lynch and BDS Limited pay the prime minister damages of $140,000, plus $20,000 costs at the High Court; the cost in the Court of Appeal, $20,000 and 5 per cent interest from the 2008 date of assessment.

As for the future of the company, De Freitas said that he could not say what was going to happen.

He said that his company has an indemnity with the New Democratic Party (NDP) as the ‘New Times’ programme is a production of the political party.

“There is a responsibility to me by way of an indemnity and that is why we have to meet,” DeFreitas told SEARCHLIGHT.

He, however, noted that there were “ulterior motives” to the decision to sue his company.

“Dr. Gonsalves never gave NICE Radio a chance; he never asked us for an apology, then go to court. He said an apology, plus a quarter million dollars,” De Freitas contended.

“So that sends you straight to court, because if he (Gonsalves) had asked for an apology, certainly because it was something said on the radio and he feels strongly about it, I will apologize,” he explained.

He said that he has always questioned why there was always a prerequisite to the apology of a quarter million dollars for NICE Radio, when other media houses were merely asked to apologize.

“This tells you that there are ulterior motives,” he said. (DD)