Some $83,200 have been raised to assist Opposition Leader, Lennox Linton, in the matter involving chartered accountant Kieron Pinard-Byne following a judgment by the Privy Council.
Today (Thursday, January 14) is the deadline for Linton to pay $79,324.86 to Pinard-Byrne after the Privy Council ruled in his favor in a long-running defamation court case.
Pinard-Byrne had accused then journalist Linton of libel in the lengthy court matter and the Privy Council had reinstated a judgment of the High Court of EC$50,000 plus $14,000 in legal costs plus 5 percent per annum interest.
For the past few days, radio personality and talk show host, Matt Peltier, has been leading a drive on privately-owned Q95 to raise $80,000 to assist Linton in paying the fine.
Speaking on Peltier’s show, the Hot Seat, on Thursday morning, Linton said the money was raised.
“Let me say to the people of Dominica this morning, we are now in receipt of $83,200 from the people of Dominica, at home and abroad, which means the target that Matt set of 80,000 has been overachieved,” he stated.
Linton thanked everyone who came on board to assist.
“We want to thank everyone for this especially Matt who took the initiative, the q95 team came onboard and the people of Dominica who responded in an overwhelming way from all across the country, the footsoldiers like Tyrone Anthony, ‘Blessings,’ who logged many miles picking up contributions here, there,” he said.
He described the process as ‘humbling’ and ‘uplifting.’
“This was very humbling experience; this was an uplifting experience,” Linton noted.
He stated that Pinard-Byrne will be receiving the payment.
“We can say to Mr. Pinard-Byrne in the next few days he will be receiving a payment, this is going to be handled through the chambers of my lawyers, David Bruney chambers, and the lawyers will be in touch with each other,” he said.
Linton warned that additional costs may be on the horizon.
“There are some matters that have to be paid attention to because the cost we are talking about here, the cost that was awarded in the High Court, there is a determination to be made on the cost in terms of the Appeal Court and the Privy Council, which processes have not been completed at the Privy Council where this matter was heard finally , and so there may be additional costs that I will be responsible for,” he stated.
Linton insisted that he spoke out on the matter in the interest of the public.
“This was one of those cases involving me directly where the public interest, I felt, was being injured, I spoke out, people understood clearly where I was coming from and we had a judgement in the court go against me which came with cost and I think the people understand the inherent injustices at play and have decided that they would step up to the plate in seeking to mitigate against some of those injustices and they have,” he said.
The matter has its roots way back in 2002 when Pinard-Byrne sued Linton because of an article published on a website and statements made on a radio show, on which Linton was a guest.
According to Pinard-Byrne, he was libeled by Linton.
In March 2011 the High Court in Dominica ruled in favor of Pinard-Byrne.
The matter was taken to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) in March 2013 and the High Court’s decision was reversed with a ruling in Linton’s favor.
The ECSC, in its ruling, said its decision was based on ‘qualified privilege.’
Qualified privilege gives the press some level of immunity from defamation charges for statements made in good faith, unless it can be proven it was done with malice.
Immediately after the ruling, Pinard-Bryne’s attorney, Tony Astaphan, took the matter to the Privy Council since, according to him, the ECSC’s ruling had narrowed the issue of qualified privilege ‘much too much.’
When the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal met in Dominica in March 2014, the judges granted leave to Pinard-Byrne to take the matter to the Privy Council after Astaphan said his client had fully complied with all the rules as laid down by the court of appeal.
The Privy Council ruled in Pinard-Byrne’s favor in October, 2015.
The matter was the final case to be heard by the Privy Council since Dominica has made the Caribbean Court of Justice its final appellate court.