ATTORNEY ON LIBEL AND SLANDER: BALANCE OUR RIGHTS WITH OUR RESPONSIBILITIES
Following a Pre-Action Protocol issued to a radio talk show host, Attorney Martin George says defamation occurs when a person’s character is lowered in the esteem of others and with the increase in the use of the internet to communicate to a wide audience, the law has been adjusted to include redress for persons tainted by comments made via the World Wide Web.
Communication issued last week from the Office of the President alleged that certain offensive comments made by the radio talk show host threatened to “bring members of the family of His Excellency the President and by extension the Office of the President into disrepute.”
But comments about the First Lady, and in particular her choice of attire for a United Nations Fashion for Development event in New York in September, made for wide discussion online prior to the talk show host’s utterances.
As such, many were questioning why the comedian was singled out for her comments.
Speaking on CTV’s Good Morning T&T on Tuesday, the Attorney explained that with online communications becoming so prevalent, laws have expanded to include sanctions for statements made on the internet.
“There’s the case of Emile Elias of NH International versus Eugene Reynold in this jurisdiction whereby statements were made on the internet and as a result, the court was able to make a finding to say ‘look, that was defamatory because it was published and broadcast to persons across the internet.’ So we have to be careful because you know persons on the blogs tend to get carried away and hey think that well it’s freedom of expression but we must always balance our rights with our responsibilities.”
The Attorney said the internet has given more persons access to a wide audience and while there are rights, they are not unfettered.
“There must be the statement, it must proven to be untrue because a valid defence to defamation is if it is true.”