AS he continues to battle yet another lawsuit for allegedly making defamatory statements while on the political platform, Independent Liberal Party (ILP) leader Jack Warner was yesterday given an extension of time to file his defence in the latest lawsuit brought against him by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.
However, Warner was not granted the three-week period he was seeking but was instead given until March 19 to do so.
In the instance the defence is not filed by that date, Warner will be debarred from defending the claim brought against him, Justice Robin Mohammed ruled at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain. Warner was also ordered to pay costs in the sum of $12,000 to Ramlogan’s attorneys for their services in yesterday’s hearing.
The extension application was met with objection by attorney Gerald Ramdeen, who, along with Varun Dabideen, is representing Ramlogan.
Ramdeen argued that Warner and his attorneys Keith Scotland and Asha Watkins-Montserin had sufficient time to prepare and file the defence, since the pre-action protocol letter was served to Warner on November 12 last year.
The attorney also submitted that the application was being objected to as there was no good reason advanced by Warner’s legal team as to why the extension should be granted.
Ramdeen said, to this day, Warner never denied making the statement and questioned why such a long period of time was being sought to verify a transcript of Warner’s speech, which was made on October 19, and the contents of a video recording of the speech.
“When public officials make those type of statements, they must be prepared to come to court and defend it,” said Ramdeen.
In response, Scotland said he and Watkins-Montserin only became involved in the matter on January 29, replacing attorney Om Lalla and, as such, needed to take proper instructions from their client before filing the defence.
“These are serious allegations, so we want to verify the transcript and the video. We are new attorneys in this matter, so we would like to sit with our client and get instructions in this very serious matter,” said Scotland.
Warner is also challenging two other lawsuits filed against him—by Works Minister Surujrattan Rambachan and expelled ILP councillor Faaiq Mohammed, who both claim that Warner defamed their names on a political platform.