News Americas, MIAMI, Fl, Fri. Nov. 3, 2017: A defamation lawsuit filed by a U.S. Caribbean Diaspora national against the Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda will go to trial, News Americas Now has learnt.
The lawsuit has been slapped on PM Gaston Browne by Atlanta-based Dr. Isaac Newton, an Antigua & Barbuda-born international management consultant, political adviser and President of Paramount Communications.
The Antigua & Barbuda-based law office of Daniels, Phillips & Associates is representing Dr. Newton in the case and accuse Prime Minister Browne of defaming their client in a March 20, 2017 press release.
They claim that Browne defamed their client by calling him a “disgraced former UPP (United Progressive party) ambassador.”
Both sides reportedly declined mediation this week to settle the case and agreed to go to trial in the New Year, News Americas Now has learned.
Attorney Lawrence Daniels told NAN that a pre-trial hearing is set for March 2018 and a trial date will likely be set then.
The Prime Minister’s name calling of Dr. Newton earlier this year was in response to the Caribbean national’s critical analysis of his Parliamentary response to the U.S. State Department’s 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) annual report that was released in March this year.
In the report, the US government called Antigua & Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) “among the most lax in the world” and said this “increases its susceptibility to money laundering and other financial crimes.”
The report also claimed Antigua & Barbuda is riddled with too many allegations of corruption and too few instances of bringing those alleged to justice and that two top officials in the current government are allegedly tied to the 8 million dollar bribery scandal associated with the Oderbrecht/Meinl Bank.
Browne rebuffed the claims in the report and revealed in the country’s Parliament that the Government of Antigua & Barbuda had dispatched a strong rebuke to the US government on the assertions.
He responded angrily that the report made wrong claims about the country’s achievements and that much had been done in transparency, safeguards, compliance with international standards, cooperation with various US agencies, and several levels of due diligence, to secure revenues for the CIP program, and to improve the nation’s image.
Browne also subsequently informed the Parliament that the US Embassy in Bridgetown had made it known to the government that the embassy would “discontinue doing due diligence” on applicants for Antigua and Barbuda’s CIP.
Many Antiguans, locally and overseas, including two of the country’s former prime ministers – one of whom is from Browne’s own party – immediately after, characterized Browne’s response as undiplomatic and said in essence that his tone and mood in the country’s Parliament did not reflect the public dignity that conscientious residents and citizens expect of their prime minister.
Former Prime Minister Lester Bird implied that whereas Browne needed to defend Antigua and Barbuda with vigor that requires an effective understanding of the bigger issues at hand while former Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer indicated that Browne needed a more sound diplomatic approach
Atlanta-based Dr. Newton called Browne’s parliamentary response to the report “crass.”
Browne took major issue with that critical analysis and issued a press release on the comments of Dr. Newton, a former political advisor during his election run in 2014.
In it he stated: “… we all have a duty to defend our country against unjust attacks.
“Too bad that the short-sighted and disgraced former UPP Ambassador, Isaac Newton, saw my defense as crass. What was crass was his misconduct, during his short-lived career as a public servant, in which he was fired by former Prime Minister (Baldwin) Spencer, for certain wrongdoing.”
Dr. Newton’s attorneys’ said in an initial letter to Browne, that his words were published with the “intention and calculation” to “lower” their client “in the eyes of those who would read or listen to the words and poison their minds against the integrity, character and reputation” of the top consultant, author and Harvard, Princeton and Columbia graduate.
They have also stated that the prime minister’s words were meant to taint their client “with a most vicious, brazen and abominable smear of dishonesty, causing him ridicule and odium.”
They want the PM to pay the costs incurred by Dr. Newton in defending his name as well as “damages” for injuring his reputation.