Unjust and unfair
Karen Cross, Natalee Stack to appeal guilty verdict in Dayton Campbell case
Citing unjust treatment, defence attorney representing controversial People’s National Party (PNP) activist Karen Cross and United States blogger Natalee Stack says he will be appealing a $750,000 fine that was imposed on his clients for contempt of court.
The women, who are defendants in a defamation lawsuit filed by the party’s general secretary Dr Dayton Campbell, were yesterday given 14 days to pay the fine or serve six months in prison.
Justice Chester Stamp handed down the fine in the Supreme Court yesterday after they were found guilty of breaching a court order, which prohibits them from posting defamatory information about Campbell on social media.
But attorney-at-law Robert Collie says the women were not fairly treated when the order was made in April by Justice Natalie Hart-Hines.
“It seems to me that the judge ignored a provision in our own Constitution that provides for someone to be legally represented, because Ms Cross and Ms Stack were served with a document for injunction 24 hours before the hearing for the injunction and the judge did not even allow them to get legal representation under such circumstances, which seem to be unjust,” he told The Gleaner.
“As soon as I was aware that my clients had made these postings, they were advised in no uncertain terms to remove them, and they did remove them; however, the judge did not seem to consider that as a point in their favour in respect to the contempt proceedings.”
Nevertheless, the attorney continued: “We have seven days to appeal to the Court of Appeal in respect to the current ruling and we are filing our notice of the application to set aside the injunction. We will also be filing an affidavit of urgency to urge the court to hear this matter as soon as possible, given that the defendants’ liberty is at stake for speaking what they believe is their truth.”
In the meantime, Collie said that his clients are abiding by the court orders and will continue to do so.
COURT ORDERS MUST BE OBEYED
The Gleaner tried to reach Campbell for a comment, but his phone went unanswered, and he did not respond to a message that had been sent.
However, his attorney-at-law, Georgia Gibson Henlin, QC, when contacted about the latest development, briefly said, “It is an important affirmation of the principle that court orders ought to be obeyed and must be obeyed.”
The defamation lawsuit arose after both women reportedly made posts alleging serious criminal conduct by Campbell involving underage girls.
The allegations were investigated by the Jamaica Constabulary Force, which in April said it found no supporting evidence.
According to the police, Cross, despite giving a formal statement, did not provide any evidence to substantiate the claims nor was she able to provide any person interested in making a complaint against Campbell.
But Cross has insisted that she has evidence to support her claims, and in her defence, which was filed in May, submitted statements reportedly given by three women, whose names were redacted.
However, Dr Campbell’s legal team, in response, made an application for the court to strike out those documents. That matter is scheduled to be heard next February.