Nationwide to pay Patterson $12m
Nationwide News Network and its CEO Cliff Hughes have been ordered by the Supreme Court to pay $12 million in damages for libel to former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson.
The suit stemmed from the radio station's coverage of the arrival of a plane carrying Patterson and executives of telecommunications company Digicel at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston in May 2009.
Patterson claimed he was defamed by the reports and filed a suit seeking damages for libel as well as aggravated and exemplary damages.
Justice Paulette Williams, in handing down judgment yesterday, said the defendants could not plead justification as it was clearly established that the news item was false. The judge said that as unfortunate as the statements were, she was not satisfied that it was a matter that called for an award of exemplary or aggravated damages.
On the issue of quantum, attorneys K.D. Knight and Bert Samuels, who represented Patterson, had asked for the award to be $180 million, or certainly not less than $35 million.
Queen's Counsel Lord Anthony Gifford and Anika Gray, who represented the defendants, suggested that $250,000 would be sufficient to meet the damage done to Patterson.
Williams said given the nature of the damage proven, an adequate compensation would be $12 million.
After the ruling, Hughes said he was disappointed with the outcome, but made it clear he respected the ruling of the court. He said he was going to sit with his lawyers and study the ruling before deciding on the way forward.