by Linda Straker
- Application filed by Claudette Joseph to file a defence in a defamation lawsuit, dismissed
- Court agreed that Joseph did not satisfy conditions as prescribed by law
The Master of the High Court Grenada on Thursday, 28 January 2021 dismissed the application filed by Claudette Joseph to file a defence in a defamation lawsuit filed by Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell after she claimed that he was an investor in the failed shrimp farm project.
She attempted to file a defence after the allocated time, but with the court dismissing her application, Joseph, who is a lawyer by profession, now runs into the possibility of having a judgment that can see her paying thousands to Prime Minister Mitchell.
Joseph was represented in court by former Attorney General Cajeton Hood, while Dr Mitchell was represented by Nigel Stewart.
After hearing arguments by both attorneys on an application filed on behalf of Joseph, for permission to file a defence to Dr Mitchell’s suit, the Court agreed with Stewart’s submissions, that Joseph did not meet the necessary threshold or satisfy any of the conditions as prescribed by law, and proceeded to dismiss Joseph’s application.
“The legal effect is that Miss Joseph is not permitted to file a defence to Dr Mitchell’s suit and that judgment will be awarded in favour of Dr Mitchell,” said Stewart. His law firm highly anticipates that Joseph will appeal the ruling.
Background to the matter
Joseph, using broadcast outlets, claimed that Dr Mitchell was an investor in the failed aquaculture shrimp farm project. She pointed to a YouTube video as evidence of the claim. However, Dr Mitchell has denied that he was an investor in the project which was approved by the Citizenship by Investment Committee. The government in March 2019 announced an investigation into that project after it failed to materialise.
In December 2019, Joseph received a letter from the law firm of Nigel Stewart and Associates demanding that Joseph, who is the public relations officer of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), cease and desist from repeating the claim; apologise and pay compensation in the amount of EC$350,000 within 7 days of receiving the pre-action protocol letter.
Efforts to reach Claudette Joseph for comment have been unsuccessful.