Former police commissioner Gary Griffith. – File photo
RETIRED appeal court judge Stanley John and former commissioner of police Gary Griffith will square off in court on Thursday in a defamation claim and counter-claim.
A case management hearing was set for January 11 by presiding judge, Justice Devindra Rampersad.
John’s claim was filed on October 2, 2023, and Griffith’s counter-claim on October 27, 2023.
John, who is also currently a judge of the Court of Appeal in the Turks and Caicos, and a temporary judge in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, has complained of statements Griffith made on various social media platforms concerning John’s mandate to enquire into allegations into corrupt practices surrounding the issuance of firearm users’ licences.
John was appointed by the Police Service Commission (PSC) in August 2021 to carry out his investigation, and delivered his report later that year.
His claim took issue with statements the former CoP made in 2022 media interviews and 2023 video recordings. John maintained Griffith ought to have known he was appointed by the PSC and not the Government or any high-ranking official.
“In the premises, the defendant published or caused to be published the words complained of knowing them to be false, or recklessly, not caring whether they were true or false and/or with no honest belief that they were true. In so doing, the defendant was actuated by a dominant improper motive.
“The publication of the words complained of has gravely injured the reputation of the claimant, has exposed him to public scandal and contempt and caused him severe embarrassment and considerable distress.”
John’s claim, filed by attorneys Chelsea John and Marc Campbell, maintained the words complained of concerned his professional integrity, and since the publication of the video recording and the other statements, he has “felt a sense of embarrassment” because of numerous inquiries from friends, family, colleagues and other professionals.
John is seeking compensation as well as an injunction for Griffith to remove the offending material from his various social media pages and not repeat them.
In his defence to Griffith’s counter-claim, John denied being influenced by any politician or political entity and maintained his report was the “product of a weeks-long, unbiased and dispassionate investigation.” It also gave details of some of the steps he took during his investigation.
Griffith is represented by attorneys Larry Lalla, SC, and Shivanand Ramoutar.