Justice Brassington Reynolds yesterday adjourned the Bharrat Jagdeo libel suit to January 27, 2012, to allow the new Jagdeo lead attorney time to familiarize himself with the case, despite repeated objections from the defence lawyers.
After Anil Nandlall, Jagdeo’s former lead attorney, was appointed Attorney General earlier this month, Jagdeo replaced him with Senior Counsel Bernard De Santos.
Yesterday, De Santos, former Attorney General in the Jagdeo administration, asked the court for an adjournment in the matter. Chief witness Dr Roger Luncheon, the head of the presidential secretariat and Jagdeo were no-shows at yesterday’s proceedings.
Defence attorney, Nigel Hughes, in his submissions said that on the last occasion, the matter was adjourned. He pointed out that “the plaintiff [Jagdeo] knew from at least December 5 that his counsel could no longer prepare for him. That’s two weeks ago,” Hughes stressed explaining that this situation is entirely the fault of the plaintiff.
He said that in the light of these circumstances he could not support De Santos’ application. He went on to say that he was told three days ago that the plaintiff was looking to have De Santos handle the case.
Meanwhile, attorney Sase Gunraj who has been appearing in association with Nandlall from the inception of the case did not have the benefit of all that had transpired as he arrived late for the proceedings. Noting that De Santos was seeking an adjournment, he said he had indicated this in a letter to the defence, which was delivered on Tuesday. He said even though the letter was late, the court was told about the difficulties that were being experienced.
Justice Reynolds then said that since Gunraj had sat through the matter he ought to be in a position to re-examine the witness. This statement was made after Gunraj told the court that he was not on record.
Gunraj later asked the court to waive the $20,000 costs that were awarded to the two defence counsel on the last occasion. That request was subsequently granted by the judge.
Hughes noted that since Gunraj indicated that he was not on record in the case, this would mean that the plaintiff had no lawyer on record. In these circumstances, he asked for the case to be dismissed. The judge in response said his record indicates that Gunraj is on record.
“This is the second time that they haven’t turned up. There is absolutely no excuse after 14 days why they are not ready,” Hughes submitted.
De Santos told the court that he needed a period of about three weeks to familiarize himself with the case. He then requested a date for fixture.
The date set was January 27, 2012.
A $10 million libel case was brought by Jagdeo against Kaieteur News columnist Freddie Kissoon, Kaieteur News Editor Adam Harris and the National Media and Publishing Company Ltd, the newspaper’s publisher.
The libel suit was prompted by a June 28, 2010 Kissoon article titled, ‘King Kong sent his goons to disrupt the conference’, and the defence is seeking to justify its portrayal of Jagdeo as an ideological racist heading a government that practices racism.