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Waithe gets second legal letter over Angostura matter

Published: 
Monday, December 11, 2017

Head of watchdog group Fixin’ T&T Kirk Waithe has been served a second lawyer’s letter by Angostura Ltd and its chairman Dr Rolph Balgobin. He has been asked why his attorneys did not advise him “to exercise tact and keep his mouth shut” while they await a legal response from him.

This was contained in a legal letter headlined Defamation of Angostura Ltd and Dr Rolph Balgobin sent to Waithe on Friday by attorney Andre Rudder, acting on behalf of his clients.

The letter, which was obtained by the T&T Guardian yesterday, comes one week after Waithe was served a pre-action protocol letter by Rudder over a “highly offensive” and “defamatory image” published on Fixin’ T&T’s Facebook page on November 30 over a mock-up of Angostura’s product, a bottle of Angostura 1919 rum.

Yesterday, Waithe declined comment saying his attorneys were reviewing both letters.

Last month, Waithe called for a national boycott of Angostura products after Balgobin was cleared by Justice Rolston Nelson in October of sexual harassment levelled against him by a female executive who was fired two weeks ago.

Waithe also called for Balgobin to be removed as chairman pending a thorough, independent and transparent investigation.

In the three-page letter dated December 7, Waithe was told that even though he had not responded to the pre-action protocol letter, served to him on December 1, he found the time to make statements which were published in two daily newspapers days ago.

“It is amazing that following receipt of the pre-action protocol letter that your lawyers would not advise you to exercise tact and to keep your mouth shut while this matter and/or their response is pending,” the letter stated.

Waithe was asked to give an undertaking that he would not further publish any similar publication concerning Angostura and Balgobin, publish an immediate retraction, apologise, pay a proper and suitable sum as damages for the injury to their reputation and for the embarrassment and distressed caused by the offending publications.

“Our clients are taking this matter seriously and expect that you will accede to their demands. It was our expectation that you would also treat with the seriousness that it deserves and accede to these demands forthwith,” the letter further stated.

Waithe was told that it was clear from his actions and conduct of his statements reported in the press following issuance of the pre-action protocol letter that it was his intent to “continue your sustained attack on our client “and that he has consistently made comments which are both “malicious and or recklessly indifferent, including calling on the public to boycott Angostura products.”

Last week, at a UWI’s lunchtime forum called Boardroom Bullies, the letter stated that Waithe made a suggestion that women at Angostura (and the university) operate on the basis of directives and out of fear and submission which was published in a daily newspaper on December 7.

Rudder argued that no such utterances can be referred to Angostura as true and that Balgobin can maintain an action against him for slander and for republished libel, since his continued statement are “careless, irresponsible and reckless” for which they can be no foundation.

“It does not give you the right to agitate against our clients in the manner that you have. It must be obvious to you, by now, that your outrage is misplaced and that the person with the problem and on the wrong side of the argument, in this scenario, is you.”

Waithe was given until December 15 to respond.

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