OPPOSITION Leader Dr Keith Rowley was today awarded close to $.5 million in damages for defamation of character after he successfully challenged allegations of corruption made against him by former Independent Senator Michael Annisette in 2009.
Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh made the order at the High Court in Port of Spain, awarding Rowley $475,000 in damages and an additional $160,000 in legal cost.
The case stemmed from allegations made by Annisette under the protection of parliamentary privilege during a debate in the Senate in October, 2009, when he accused Rowley of corruption in relation to the Landate Project and the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT).
Because of this cloak of protection, legal action could not have been initiated against Annisette but several days later, on October 8, during a telephone interview with Newsday reporter Clint Chan Tack, Annisette insisted he had documents to prove the allegations made in the Senate were in fact true.
The following day an article was published in the newspaper outlining what was said in the interview, resulting in the lawsuit being filed.
In his 28-page judgement, Boodoosingh said despite Annisette not repeating the allegations made in the Senate during the interview, there would have been a sufficient temporal and substantive connection made by the public between the words spoken in the Parliament and the comments made by him in the subsequent interview.
Senior Counsel Reginald Armour, Vanessa Gopaul and Dawn Gillian Seecharan represented Rowley, while Annisette was represented by attorney Kandace Bharath.
NOTE - See the full story in tomorrow's Express newspaper