Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, has signalled his intention to take legal action against the president of the New Democratic Party (NDP) Dr. Godwin Friday, two media houses, and a reporter for alleged defamation.
“Some of the same persons who have been agitating people, have been defaming me, and I will take steps towards the defamation of me,” Gonsalves said last Sunday as he called in to WE FM’s “Issue at hand” programme.
He referred to a columnist who made a comment on his use of the police stating that if he had done what the columnist claimed “I would have been guilty of misbehaviour in public office which carries one year imprisonment. I would be liable to be jailed for one year.”
At party press conference held on Saturday August 7, 2021, leader of the NDP Dr. Godwin Friday said: “today we learned of raids by the police, black squad officers, heavily armed black squad officers, that is today August 7th, 2021.”
He said throughout the afternoon there were raids on the homes of at least 10 persons, and “the only thing these persons have in common is that they are perceived to be persons who were directly involved in the demonstration in Kingstown last Thursday [August 5]. There was no indication at that time and none now that any of these persons had committed any offence.”
Friday also spoke about the PM and others intimidating the people.
“If I intimidate people by using the police and locking up people and so on, I would be guilty of misbehaviour in public office. The police do their work. I do not tell the police whom to search, whom to lock up or anything like that. I do not get involved with that.”
In addition to the opposition leader, Gonsalves said: “The News newspaper published that, and I will sue them. The broadcast came over on NICE Radio, I will sue them too. The article which was published in the Vincentian, I will sue the person and the Vincentian.
“I am not going to be in a situation where people have an illegal protest, stopping me from going to Parliament, interfering with me contrary to the law; I have that right to unhindered access to Parliament, and I wrote something on that.”
During the protest, Gonsalves was struck in his head by an object as he tried to make his way back to the House of Assembly and travelled to Barbados to obtain a MRI.
The prime minister further questioned “if by Saturday I turned the police on the people; where that happen?”
On Monday outside the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court where he was lending support to two activists charged in connection with the August 5 protest, Friday, responding to a reporter’s question made it clear that he did not defame anyone.
“Well I don’t know what the defamation is, but certainly he can allege whatever he wants but the point is that …I am certain that I have not, because I am very careful with the use of my words but in any event this again is all part of the tactic of trying to silence people,” Friday said.