“This is an obvious malicious endeavour that is politically motivated and groundless in fact”. That’s the robust response of Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin, Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Legal Affairs, to an online publication on Thursday.
The Minister has taken swift action in defence of himself, his public office and the image of the nation of Antigua and Barbuda. His lawyers have advised the publishers of WIC News that the story must be removed from its website and an apology issued or immediate legal action for libel will ensue.
Among the false and defamatory allegations, the WIC News story stated that Minister Benjamin “broke a deal with a wealthy businessman by providing safe heaven (sic) in exchange for a regular inflow of cash as protection money”. The Minister responded that “this malicious libel will be met head-on, if the publication does not remove the story and apologize. Should the publishers wittingly or unwittingly, continue to participate in this political smearing, I will not hesitate to invoke all legal measures for remedial action”.
Minister Benjamin also stated that “Antigua and Barbuda has a legal system, not controlled by any one person. Moreover, there can be no evidence to substantiate the allegations, because they are blatantly false”.
Stating that he has always advocated a free press and has acted as Attorney-General to preserve and protect this right, Minister Benjamin note that the “WIC story is not representative of a free press, but of political scandal mongering that demeans journalistic standards”.
“I have given the publishers of WIC News a fair opportunity not to be used as a political football and to act properly. I sincerely hope they will do so, or necessary legal action will be taken”, the Minister said.
Benjamin added that “I am taking the matter to court in England and will be seeking substantial damages. The Extradition process is governed by the Minister and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”