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Keith Mitchell appealing libel case against Patrick Simmons

Former Grenada Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has been granted leave by the Court of Appeal to contest the EC$130, 000 judgment in a libel case that he lost to former Congress Sports Minister Patrick Simmons.

A legal source told THE NEW TODAY that the Court which is headed by Chief Justice Janice Pereira granted the request on an application that was made by attorney-at-law Nigel Stewart who is acting for the ex-Grenadian leader.

Former Trinidad & Tobago Attorney-General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj had represented Dr. Mitchell in the high court matter while Alban John was retained by Simmons that was adjudicated by high court judge Justice Raulston Glasgow.

In his decision, the judge noted that during the trial, Dr. Mitchell admitted that his statements uttered again Simmons were “erroneous.”

The former Prime Minister had sought to link Simmons to a company that purchased lands in the Hope area and subsequently bought by the 2008-13 Congress government of Tillman Thomas for use by the University of the West Indies to build a campus.

The evidence showed that Simmons was never part of the company.

Dr. Mitchell tried to implicate the former Congress Minister with a plot to use his influence as a Cabinet Minister to profit from the sale of the land.

In handing down the ruling, Glasgow said: “Counsel for Mr. Simmons, Mr. (Alban) John, in his pre-action letter dated 22nd August 2014 demanded a written apology from Dr. Mitchell which was refused. At trial, Dr. Mitchell acknowledged that his statements were erroneous in material regards for instance, Mr. Simmons’ membership of the company.

“In my view, this acknowledgment should have been forthcoming much earlier. Certainly, the company documents which showed who were the shareholders of the company, ought to have impelled Dr. Mitchell to immediately retract his assertions about Mr. Simmons’ involvement in the alleged affair”.

“Equally, the Cabinet papers which Dr. Mitchell relied on in his evidence ought to have advised him at least by the time of disclosure that his assessment of the conduct of the 2008 to 2013 Government was flawed in material respects”.

“He ought to have issued some retraction, correction or apology. His failure to do so, in my view, added to the injury caused to Mr. Simmons’ reputation and must be compensated for as aggravated damages.”

Attorney Stewart is now charged with the responsibility to prepare the arguments on behalf of Dr. Mitchell in his attempt to get the Court of Appeal to squash Glasgow’s ruling against him.