Devant wants $$ for 'serious slander'
Transport Minister Devant Maharaj is threatening Opposition Senator Fitzgerald Hinds with legal action.
Maharaj is alleging that Hinds made defamatory comments against him with respect to the award of contracts at the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (AATT) and the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC).
Attorney Joseph George, acting on behalf of Maharaj, has issued a pre-action protocol letter to Hinds dated April 27, 2012.
Hinds, at a press conference at the Opposition Leader's office, Port of Spain, on April 23, raised concern over the AATT award of a $2.1 million contract to Bridgecom to cut the grass at the Piarco International Airport as well as a $1.5 million contract to R2K Engineering Co Ltd for the repair and refurbishment of the San Juan Priority Mall.
With respect to the AATT contract, Hinds claimed that Bridgecom was not the lowest bidder as he quoted information from the AATT tender for the landscaping contract dated March 2011 which listed other companies which submitted bids for the project.
The pre-action protocol letter stated that Hinds's comments were defamatory and could be interpreted to mean that the Minister acted in an improper manner in the performance of his duties and obligations to country.
Hinds' charges, stated the letter, amount to "serious slander" and has caused the Minister considerable distress and embarrassment as the allegations were false and unjustified.
Maharaj's attorney has demanded a full and unequivocal retraction and apology—on terms approved by counsel and published in all daily newspaper and Internet websites—at Hinds's expense.
Hinds was asked to submit a proposal for a "substantial compensation" for the injury caused to Maharaj's reputation—including an award for aggravated and exemplary damages.
He was given 21 days to respond to the pre-action protocol letter failing which legal proceedings will be initiated.