Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Chris: I will not be bullied


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How Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler will respond to threats to sue him unless he withdraws “defamatory statements” by today is unclear.

His lawyers are dealing with the matter, the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) candidate said yesterday, as he declined to comment on the issue involving Nigerian billionaire Benedict Peters, who it has now been confirmed was in Barbados in 2016.

On Sunday night during the DLP mass meeting at Carlisle Car Park, The City, Sinckler revealed that Queen’s Counsel Leslie Haynes had sent him a letter accusing him of defaming Peters, the founder of the Aiteo Group, at the DLP’s launch meeting at Waterford, St Michael, on May 6.

The letter stated: “In particular, you alleged that my client met with ‘the leadership of the Barbados Labour Party at the Hilton Hotel’ and the said leadership was seeking to get money from my client. You further suggested that my client was ‘funneling money into the Barbados elections just like the Russians were putting money in the American elections’. You categorically stated that ‘Nigerian money is trying to influence the outcome of the election’, clearly suggesting that my client is the source of such money.

“Most egregiously, you made references to Boko Haram, a notoriously renowned Islamic terrorist organisation, and so interspersed references to my client by name as to suggest that he is involved with that organisation.”

He listed and denied the allegations in the letter.

“In their natural, ordinary and innuendo meanings, your words mean and were understood to mean that:

(a) My client is seeking improperly to influence the outcome of the 2018 General Elections;

(b) He is providing large sums of money to the Barbados Labour Party for the purpose of influencing the outcome of the said elections;

(c) He is associated with a terrorist organisation;

(d) He is a criminal or has criminal propensities and/or is associated with Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist organisation that kidnaps schoolgirls;

(e) He is anti-democracy and is prepared to use his money for the improper purpose of influencing the outcome of elections.

“The words used by you are completely false, baseless and malicious. They constitute a serious and grave defamation of my client personally and professionally. They have caused my client great hurt, distress and international embarrassment.”

Peters’ name first came to light when Sinckler said he visited Barbados and met with Mottley, which Sinckler questioned.

On Sunday night the first tangible evidence of Peters’ presence on the island came to light with the letter.

“He [Peters] instructs me that he met with Ms Mottley while on a family vacation in Barbados and the two discussed global affairs and investment opportunities in Barbados and the wider Caribbean. Furthermore, that since that meeting, back in September of 2016, he has not met with or had any contact with Ms Mottley or any member of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP).

“Indeed, he does not today have a phone number, email address nor other direct contact information for Ms Mottley or any member of the leadership of the BLP, and has definitely not contributed, in cash or kind, to the campaign of the BLP, neither before nor since that meeting in September 2016,” the letter stated.

That part prompted Sinckler to query why Peters didn’t meet with Government officials.

The letter concluded: “I call upon you on or before 15 May 2018, to withdraw and retract the defamatory statements and their imputations made by you and apologise to my client in terms to be approved by me, for your defamation of him.

“If you do not comply with the demands in the preceding paragraph, please be advised that my client will forthwith take such action against you as he may be advised, including commencing proceedings in the High Court of Barbados for damages, an injunction and legal costs. In the meantime, my client reserves all his rights in this matter.”

Sinckler tore up the copy of the letter and said he would not be bullied into silence.

“I born here, my navel string bury here, and nobody can come from Nigeria and try to bully me,” he declared. (AC)


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