Attorney Able-Don Foote has described public comments about George Wright, the Member of Parliament for Central Westmoreland, as unlawful and without cause, and has said it could be construed as being defamatory, as the police have found no evidence to take action in relation to the matter.
Wright was placed under investigation for reported assault against a woman after a video showing a male and a female in an altercation was posted on social media.
Wright was later questioned and released, as the police said they found no evidence that established that he took part in the incident, as was publicly asserted.
There has, however, been widespread comments on the matter from members of the public.
In a release, Foote, who represented Wright, spoke on the matter, saying the comments breached Wright’s constitutional right to due process of law, and has issued what he (Foote) has describe as a word of advice that the last time something along this line happened, it led to a lawsuit.
“It is most opportune to close with the timely reminder that the last political figure who was publicly defamed was successful in his lawsuit, wherein the defendants were ordered by the court to pay the sum of $12,000,000.00 ($12 million), along with further millions in legal cost,” said Foote in the release.
“George Wright has a right and entitlement like every other Jamaican to the protection of the laws of Jamaica, particularly the most supreme law of the nation; the constitution,” said Foote in the release.
Below is the full text of the release:
“There has been widespread condemnation of Central Westmoreland MP, George Wright, without lawful cause. The constitution of Jamaica affords every citizen of Jamaica fundamental rights and freedoms. It also prescribes that every individual who is charged with a criminal offence is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“However, in the instant case, the treatment of Mr Wright by many seems to run afoul of these sacrosanct precepts afforded to all of us in circumstances where he is not even charged. The law makes absolutely no room for conjecture, due to the aged old maxim ‘he who asserts must prove’. Ergo, there exists at this time no legal or evidential basis to condemn a man viewed as innocent through the constitutional lens.
“Having regard to the public pronouncement of the police that the investigation has come to an end due to the poor quality of the video footage and lack of evidence in the matter, the multitude of public statements implicating Mr Wright are in my view defamatory. The police have indicated in no uncertain terms that there exist no written statement or witnesses in the matter. Even with the greatest efforts by the police, the position in law is that the giving of statements by witnesses ought to be voluntary (See the Court of Appeal case of Dean Palmer v. R  JMCA Crim 26).
“Moreover, in the Supreme Court case of Lennox Gayle v. Regina  JMSC Crim 1, Justice Batts espoused the following legal principle: ‘It seems to me quite clear that though every citizen has a moral duty or if you like, a social duty to assist the police, there is no legal duty to that effect, and indeed the whole basis of the common law is that right of the individual to refuse to answer questions put to him by persons in authority, and a refusal to accompany those in authority to any particular place short of course of arrest’.
“Individuals who publicly commented on the matter implicating Mr Wright prior to the police concluding their investigations and the court ruling on same, would have done so in the wrong order by proverbially putting the cart before the horse. This erroneous breach intermeddled with Wright’s constitutional right to due process of law. It is most opportune to close with the timely reminder that the last political figure who was publicly defamed was successful in his lawsuit wherein the defendants were ordered by the court to pay the sum of $12,000,000.00, along with further millions in legal cost (See the case of Percival James Patterson v. Cliff Hughes and Nationwide News Network Limited  JMSC Civ 167. A word to the wise is sufficient.”