Jamaica Senator’s offices searched in e-mail probe

(Jamaica Observer) Montego Bay – United States and local agents, in a ground-breaking development, staged a search of the offices of Jamaica Tours Limited, owned by the family of Opposition Senator Noel Sloley, to trace the origin of a vexatious e-mail that allegedly libeled Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart.

The path leading to Jamaica Tours located at 1207 Providence Drive, Rosehall near this northcoast resort city, stretched from Kingston to New York and involved the US and Jamaican courts, search engine giant Google, American forensic experts and local attorneys.

The agents swooped down on the tour company last Thursday morning under authority of the Jamaican Supreme Court, supervised by a court-appointed independent attorney.

About noon, they began the search of office computers, allegedly the place from which one Dr Paulette Robinson – suspected to be a pseudonym – set up the Google e-mail account that was subsequently used to send a series of “vicious” e-mails carrying what Stewart, the Sandals Resorts chairman contended to be “hate material” against him.

The publication of one of these e-mails by John Issa, chairman of SuperClubs, to an attorney and the subsequent transmission of the attorney to another party resulted in Stewart, who is also chairman of this newspaper, suing both Issa and the attorney for publication of libelous material about him.

Muna Issa, daughter of John Issa, was also sued by Stewart for publishing another of the hate mails to a prominent journalist.
Efforts by the Sunday Observer to get responses from the Sloley family and the independent attorney, Carlene Larmond were fruitless. Senator Slolely was said to be off the island and did not answer his cellphone or return calls to the number.

Senator Sloley’s son, Noel Sloley Jr, and shareholder in Jamaica Tours whose phone roamed in Germany where he was contacted, said: “I have not been briefed and I know only what you know.”

The senator’s wife, Sharon, did not respond to messages left for her at the office or home.
Larmond, who was reached on cellphone late Friday, declined to comment.

Granting Stewart’s request, the Supreme Court on March 10 ordered Jamaica Tours to allow the Sandals chairman’s search party to enter the offices to “copy or clone all data from the respondent’s computers, servers or other data storage devices wherever located.”

The search party consisted of forensic experts from the US-based Credence Corporation Inc and attorneys representing Stewart, under the watchful eye of Larmond.

The order said: “The search (by Credence Corporation) is to relate only to documents and files which contain the names ‘Paulette Robinson’ and ‘Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart’, or any combination of the said names during the periods and times October 16, 2007 at 7:15 pm GMT, October 25, 2007 at 1:13 EDT, October 31, 2007 at 15:25 and May 10, 2008 at 10:55 am and within an hour before or after the times specified.”

The saga began last year when Sandals IT experts tracked the offending e-mail to a Google account. The resort then lodged a complaint in a New York court, and requested Google to provide the IP (Internet Protocol) address of the e-mail, with which it complied. That led to a Cable and Wireless (now Lime) account.

Stewart then filed a complaint in the Jamaican Supreme Court, seeking an order to compel Cable and Wireless to disclose the entity to which the IP address was assigned. That in turn led to a computer at Jamaica Tours, one of Jamaica’s largest ground tour management companies.

The information procured from the search will be electronically analysed by Credence’s forensic experts in the US.

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