CASTRIES – In the latest in what seems to be a current spate of defamation actions launched by politicians against colleagues on the other side of the aisle in the Eastern Caribbean, Dr Ernest Hilaire, the opposition St Lucia Labour Party member of parliament for Castries South, has filed a claim against Prime Minister Allen Chastanet.
According to the first page of a Claim Form published on social media, Hilaire is seeking damages, including aggravated damages, for defamatory allegations made by Chastanet against Hilaire, who was the former high commissioner for Saint Lucia to the United Kingdom and the former chairman of the country’s Citizenship by Investment Unit Board.
The allegedly defamatory statements made by Chastanet apparently claimed that Hilaire is dishonest and is not trustworthy, and that, further, he was involved in financial impropriety as high commissioner to the United Kingdom and was thus not a fit and proper person to be the chairman of the citizenship board.
Chastanet allegedly imputed criminal and improper motives on Hilaire’s part in relation to the controversial appointment of Wahid Juffali as an ambassador for the purpose of facilitating a fraud in Juffali’s divorce proceedings against his wife by providing him with diplomatic immunity.
In yet another assertion that diplomatic passports are being sold by government officials in the Eastern Caribbean, Chastanet’s statements allegedly implied that Hilaire was involved in the sale of such passports and therefore benefited financially from Juffali’s appointment.
Hilaire’s action follows two recent defamation lawsuits in Grenada, both involving Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, where Mitchell has sued a local broadcaster and has in turn been sued by the opposition leader, Nazim Burke; one in Antigua and Barbuda in which Prime Minister Gaston Browne has sued the opposition party and its public relations officer; and another in Dominica where the foreign minister has sued the opposition leader and others.