Foster prepares for court battle with UNC senator

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

OPPOSITION Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial has responded to the legal letter sent on behalf of Minister of Youth Development and National Service Foster Cummings, but only to say she has retained Freedom House Chambers, led by former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC, as her attorneys.

Newsday understands Cummings was prepared to give the senator until the end of Thursday to respond to the pre-action protocol letter. If there is no response, his attorneys have been instructed to file documents in court.

Outside of a formal response, Lutchmedial said on Wednesday, “After fighting off the strong temptation to throw it in the dustbin, I decided to pass it on to my attorney, former attorney general, and senior counsel Anand Ramlogan.

“I would like to inform Mr Cummings and others…that I’ve donned my robes and bands for the past 15 years in defence of truth, justice, and the rule of law.

“As such, I have a lot of court clothes. I strongly advise that they too should invest in appropriate attire for the courthouse.”

Cummings had requested an apology and compensation from the senator. The minister also sued the Trinidad Express newspaper.

His attorneys, Jennifer Farah-Tull, Farai Hove Masaisai, and Christopher George gave Lutchmedial until 1 pm on Thursday to remove a video of her statements she made at a UNC meeting last week when she read from a private Special Branch report.

They also asked her to apologise and publicly retract the allegations; undertake not to repeat her statements, and make a reasonable proposal for compensation for the damage done to his reputation and good name.

File photo: UNC Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial.

Farah-Tull, of the law firm of Hove and Associates, wrote, “Our client categorically states that the matters complained of are false,” the letter said.

Farah-Tull told Lutchmedial that if she does not fully retract her statement as untrue, incorrect, and unfounded, proceedings will be filed against her. She was told she ought to have known better and that her actions were irresponsible and reckless.

On May 5, in San Fernando, Lutchmedial read from a 2019 Special Branch report on Cummings. The document alleged that Cummings was involved in several illegal activities involving Housing Development Corporation (HDC) lands. It also alleged improper behaviour in relation to government contracts and an association with alleged criminals.

Farah-Tull also told Lutchmedial that neither she nor the minister knew the circumstances of the document or whether it represented any final finding of fact that anyone can rely on.

She also said Cummings had a reasonable expectation of privacy of information relating to any police investigation. She pointed out no charges have been brought against him and the police have not said what they were investigating.

Farah-Tull also said Cummings’s name has been tarnished and the incident has caused him much embarrassment. His family has also suffered and they have had to hire a therapist since the accusations have led to them being cyber-bullied.

“We say that the intentional infliction of emotional harm arising from the mental and emotional distress that our client experienced is a direct result of the disclosure of his private and confidential information…

“The manner in which the information was disclosed was inconsistent with the tenor of the document which spoke of allegations being investigated while you wilfully presented it as findings of fact.”

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