Cummings threatens Lutchmedial with second lawsuit

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Op­po­si­tion Sen­a­tor Jayan­ti Lutch­me­di­al is fac­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of de­fend­ing an­oth­er defama­tion law­suit from Youth De­vel­op­ment and Na­tion­al Ser­vice Min­is­ter Fos­ter Cum­mings. 

Last Wednes­day, Cum­mings’ lawyers Farai Hove-Ma­sai­sai and Jen­nifer Farah-Tull is­sued a pre-ac­tion pro­to­col let­ter to Lutch­me­di­al, the Trinidad Ex­press news­pa­per, its ed­i­tor-in-chief Omatie Ly­der and jour­nal­ist An­na Ram­dass, over com­ments Lutch­me­di­al made over a leaked Spe­cial Branch re­port dur­ing a Unit­ed Na­tion­al Con­gress (UNC) meet­ing in San Fer­nan­do on May 5. 

Cum­mings’ lawyers filed the law­suit two days lat­er af­ter none of the par­ties re­spond­ed to the le­gal threat by the dead­line they had set. 

In cor­re­spon­dence sent to Lutch­me­di­al on Wednes­day, Farah-Tull threat­ened an­oth­er law­suit over com­ments al­leged­ly made by her dur­ing a UNC Vir­tu­al Re­port on Mon­day. 

Farah-Tull stat­ed that Lutch­me­di­al re­ferred to sev­er­al doc­u­ments, in­clud­ing a source of funds de­c­la­ra­tion form, two let­ters of awards and a cheque which all ref­er­enced Cum­mings. 

«This in­for­ma­tion which you re­ceived was pri­vate and con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion of our client and was sub­se­quent­ly dis­sem­i­nat­ed pub­licly by your­self with no con­cern for how a rea­son­able per­son of or­di­nary sen­si­bil­i­ties would feel if placed in the same po­si­tion of our client,» she said. 

Farah-Tull claimed that Lutch­me­di­al failed to val­i­date with Cum­mings the con­tent or au­then­tic­i­ty of the doc­u­ments and spec­u­lat­ed based on the doc­u­ments to «en­cour­age scan­dal and odi­um». 

«You, specif­i­cal­ly be­ing an ex­pe­ri­enced at­tor­ney-at-law with some ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing for the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Unit, ought rea­son­ably to have known that such per­son­al in­for­ma­tion dis­closed to you by an un­known per­son is to be re­gard­ed as pri­vate and con­fi­den­tial and ought not to have been pub­lished with­in the pub­lic do­main and left there for pub­lic con­sump­tion,» she said. 

Farah-Tull sug­gest­ed that Cum­mings had a rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tion that the doc­u­ments would have re­mained pri­vate and sug­gest­ed that her ac­tions had be­come «out­ra­geous and dan­ger­ous,» con­sid­er­ing the fact that Cum­mings had al­ready ini­ti­at­ed le­gal ac­tion over pre­vi­ous com­ments. 

«Our client has since suf­fered loss and dam­age by the mis­use of his pri­vate in­for­ma­tion. He and his fam­i­ly mem­bers’ lives have been placed at sig­nif­i­cant risk and has caused them much fear and anx­i­ety,» she said.

In the let­ter, Farah-Tull called on Lutch­me­di­al to re­move the pub­li­ca­tions from her so­cial me­dia ac­counts and re­quest­ed a pub­lic re­trac­tion. She al­so re­quest­ed that Lutch­me­di­al pro­pose rea­son­able com­pen­sa­tion for defama­tion. 

She al­so called on Lutch­me­di­al to dis­close any oth­er con­fi­den­tial doc­u­ments be­long­ing to Cum­mings that she may have in her pos­ses­sion. 

Lutch­me­di­al was giv­en un­til 1 pm yes­ter­day to re­spond be­fore Cum­mings’ lawyers filed the sec­ond law­suit. 

Con­tact­ed yes­ter­day, Lutch­me­di­al re­ject­ed the le­gal threat much as she did with the first. 

«I re­main un­de­terred and un­both­ered by the at­tempts to si­lence me,» Lutch­me­di­al said. 

She al­so ques­tioned the re­quest to dis­close all ma­te­r­i­al in her pos­ses­sion con­cern­ing Cum­mings. 

«It is com­i­cal that the Min­is­ter’s lawyers are ask­ing me to dis­close any oth­er in­for­ma­tion I have about their client. Are they wor­ried?» she said. 

Since the re­port was leaked, Cum­mings has re­peat­ed­ly de­nied any wrong­do­ing in re­la­tion to al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion and land grab­bing con­tained in it.

Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley has re­fused to take any ac­tion in re­la­tion to the re­port, as he claimed the Op­po­si­tion was us­ing it for po­lit­i­cal ad­van­tage whilst know­ing that the in­for­ma­tion con­tained with­in it was un­sub­stan­ti­at­ed. 

Cum­mings is al­so be­ing rep­re­sent­ed by Christo­pher George.

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LINK ORIGINAL: The Trinidad Guardian

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