Lawyer: Defiant Nugent fell on own sword
University lecturer Dr Canute Thompson says he has been vindicated after the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that he be awarded $16 million in damages for allegations by outspoken women’s rights advocate Latoya Nugent.
“I am relieved in many respects. I am grateful,” Thompson, a former Moravian minister and head of the Caribbean Centre for Educational Planning, told The Gleaner after the ruling was handed down.
“The ruling really means that the court has found that the person who made the allegations was not credible to say if she had a case. ... The truth is, she had no case.”
Thompson filed a defamation suit against Nugent after she made a post to her Facebook page in December 2016, making damning allegations against him and other ministers of the same denomination as part of advocacy by the Tambourine Army founder analogous to the MeToo movement sweeping the United States.
According to Thompson’s attorney, Carlton Williams, they demanded an apology from Nugent, which was not forthcoming.
“Having filed the suit and put in defamatory words that were used, and, of course, her attitude thereafter, because, for example, she refused to withdraw the statement from her Facebook, she refused to apologise,” the attorney-at-law said.
“She, in fact, used curse words in response to the letter that was written to her … . She was very defiant that she was not going to be apologetic about anything,” Williams said.
He added, “She did not put in a defence or in any way put in a contest to the claim, which is an indication that it was a defamatory statement that was published. She didn’t try to defend it. ”
Nugent’s close associate and fellow gender-rights activist Nadeen Spence was furious at the ruling.
“The status quo is patriarchy and male preference. She was arrested and thrown in jail for a night, so it tells you that the judicial system supports a particular way of seeing things. So it doesn’t even make sense you fight it, which is why I think Latoya didn’t even fight it because it didn’t make any sense.”
In making her ruling, presiding judge Justice Audre Lindo said she considered factors such as Thompson’s standing and Nugent’s conduct.
Lindo also said that she considered the potential reach of Facebook as a global social network with billions of users.
In light of the ruling, social-media personality Dutty Berry, who has been following the case, believes that fellow users ought to be extremely careful when disseminating information whether or not it’s true.
“Social-media personalities wouldn’t want to put themselves in a situation where they can be sued, especially when they don’t have enough proof,” he told The Gleaner.
Though Dutty Berry will cautiously continue his social-media practice, the comedian is not overly concerned with being sued.
“I don’t break stories. I give my opinion on the news – what has transpired. I think that’s why people like Wendy Williams use the term ‘allegedly’ so often,” he surmised.