TRANSPORT Commissioner Rueben Cato was yesterday awarded $150,000 by a High Court judge for defamation of character as a result of certain allegations which were made against him during a radio talk show in 2009.
Cato was awarded the money by Justice Ricky Rahim at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain after the radio station accepted liability on July 24, 2012 for airing the statements.
The allegations were made during the talk show which was aired on Talk City 91.1, one of the radio stations owned by State-owned Caribbean New Media Group (CNMG), on September 22, 2009.
On that day, one of the station’s employees, Jennelle Brathwaite, hosted a programme during which she interviewed Dr Samuel Joseph.
Joseph, during the interview, made certain allegations of illegality taking place at Licensing Office regarding how some people go about obtaining their driver’s permit.
As a result of those statements, Cato submitted that he was met with “an unusual hush and snickers and lowered heads by employees” at the Licensing Office.
He also submitted that he usually had to give repeated explanations to friends and relatives who regularly approached him enquiring about the allegations.
The allegations, he said, resulted in many sleepless nights, as he felt embarrassed “because his integrity, honesty and loyalty had been called into question and gloated over by his employees and colleagues”.
In his 20-page ruling, Rahim said the initial statements made by Joseph was in the court’s view noncommittal but sufficient enough for the listener to arrive at his own conclusion, but Brathwaite seemed to be unsatisfied with Joseph’s answers.
“In fact, it appears that the statement was purposely elicited by Ms Brathwaite from Dr Joseph who at first seemed very hesitant to utter the said words,” said the judge.
Cato was awarded $125,000 for defamation of character and an additional $25,000 for aggravated damages.
Cato was represented by senior counsel Pamela Elder, while CNMG was represented by attorney Lesley-Ann Lucky Samaroo.