18 July, 2007


Letter Before Action. Well, I have got my first lawyer’s letter. It is odd to be on the receiving end of a process I have used so often before. There is always a first time for anything. This is what the letter said.

Re: Weblog – Corruption-Free Anguilla dated July 4, 2007 under Title “Confusion”

We act for and on behalf of the following Ministers of the Government of Anguilla in their personal capacity with respect to the captioned matter.

(1) The Honourable Mr Evans McNeil Rogers, Minister of Social Services

(2) The Honourable Mr Kenneth Harrigan, Minister of Infrastructure, Communications, Utility and Housing

(3) The Honourable Mr Victor Banks, Minister of Finance

(4) The Honourable Mr Osborne Fleming, Chief Minister

We are instructed that on the 4 July 2007 you made and published or caused to be published and distributed on your weblog, found at the following internet address http://corruptionfreeanguilla.blogspot.com, under the heading “Confusion” certain statements, in particular at paragraph 4, which are defamatory against the Ministers.

The Ministers have no objection to fair and honest criticism, but they are not prepared to remain indifferent to such libelous allegations on their personal character as you have made.

We are therefore instructed to demand that you immediately

(1) make and cause to be published a full and unqualified apology for and withdrawal of, the imputations contained on your said weblog, such apology to be published at your own expense on your said weblog and in The Anguillian (the form of such apology to be approved by us);

(2) give an undertaking not to continue the publication of said statements contained under the heading referred to, or publish any similar statements of or concerning the Ministers;

(3) make an offer for damages; and

(4) indemnify the Ministers with respect to such legal costs as they have incurred thus far.

Failing a satisfactory reply within (7) days from receipt of this letter our instructions are to take the necessary legal action against you.

Please be guided accordingly.

Yours faithfully,

Keithley Lake & Associates

(sd) Keithley FT Lake


I am taking advice from my attorneys as to the best way to respond. Stay tuned for the latest developments.


  1. The question at hand is if it is accurate that "It is now generally accepted that Ministers Evans Macneil Rogers, Kenneth Harrigan, Victor Banks and Osborne Fleming have been paid off by the major foreign hotel developers, Altamar, Viceroy, and Flag. No one believes otherwise for one moment.".

    A poll needs to be done to determine what people in Anguilla really believe. Then the blog entry could then be updated to say, "A poll has determined that X% of Anguillians believe that the government has been paid off".

  2. Re "Sued"

    Do you get the impression that Keithley Lake's office is acting for the 4 Ministers as individuals or in their official capacity? In other words, would his legal fees be paid by the taxpayer or by each of them?
    Might this one go to the highest courts (like "Talk Your Mind")?
    There are far more impoverished litigants than there are begging lawyers, but it is important that bullies are not seen to prevail simply because they seem to have deeper pockets.
    I, for one, will happily chip in what I can afford to your legal costs to defend any lawsuit and would hope that others will say that they will do the same.
    There are more of us than there are of them.

  3. This sue-the-government's-critics-for-defamation bit is a trick they use in Singapore a lot.

    Should be good for *years* of litagatory crunchy goodness...

  4. In the paragraph 4 you report what the public perceives to be true, not your personal opinion. You also state there is no hard evidence to support their beliefs.

    So what on what basis do they find your statements to be liabelous.

  5. I find it rather interesting that they condider your actions libelous. I wonder if they look at other AXA owned internet websites and chat forums run by local Anguillians. Much worse have been said. This is clearly an attempt to silence you because you are a blogger who isn't hiding behind a fake name.

    If they read you comments carefull it is obvous you were implying that those are the views of some people and not your own.

    This is politicaly motivated. Why would they target only you?

    Your work is provovatcive blogging. Perhaps if the government had a freedom of information act, many of us would not have to resort to assumptions on their actions.

  6. Further more the mInister are behaving liek private citizens. As it relates to libelous statements, Politican sare practically free targets. it si up to them to state publicly their position so you can published.

    The number of names Bush has been called, would make the statements under "Confusion look like kiddy play.

  7. The same day that you apparently published your "libellous statements" the government issued you an invitation to join the Constitutional Discussions Team. Now, 4 senior members of government are threatening to sue you. Are you still on the Team?

  8. During an address at the Royal Commonwealth Society in London yesterday, an irate citizen threw an egg at the speaker, President Gayoom of the Maldives. The egg missed but the President was "splattered."

    Such methods seem more timely and direct than ours. Perhaps something similar could be established here, sort of an alternative dispute resolution forum.

    The response of the Ministers is unseemly.

  9. Just reading about your legal troubles and was thinking about your posting a poll. I was thinking of entitling it: Do you think Anguilla's policians are corrupt? with a yes, no and maybe choice.

    There could be a second poll for those who answer yes, where they could pick the one they 'think' may be the most corrupt.

    What do you think?

  10. For many years the like of Victor et al have been viewed as corrupt - remember the transhipment saga? Certainly when Government go out and buy themselves & their chief supporters new cars while education & health suffers does not endear them to the hard working people of Anguilla.
    It is also a fact that one way to stop opposition is to try and bribe it, but frankly the fact that they invite you to "join the team" is one way of trying to shut you up but the fact you blog the issues showed that tactic would not work so now they are getting out the big guns - Keithley does not come cheap!
    Their letter should hold no fear as you are very careful in what you say, as I would expect of a lawyer and a judge - I just wonder what's next?

  11. The Anguilla Review endorses the rights and freedoms of Anguillians to blog without fear of political intimidation from politicians or activist lawyers. The Anguilla Review is a non partisan blog and I am one of the anonymous bloggers. Someone directed me to this post and I am prepared to get rid of the pseudonym in your support.

    As a novice blogger, I believe strongly in direct democracy but will not venture on an opinion on how you should proceed. However, if you decide to defend your right to blog and counterclaim the post entitle “Confusion” was not libelous, I am ready to support you with full disclosure of my identity if needed on a petition. Here are a few questions for you to ponder:

    1. What are the government laws pertaining to internet blogging?

    2. Are you blogging using the Anguilla domain name (ai) or a foreign domain name?

    3. What foreign laws are you in violation of?

    4. Is blogger hosted in Anguilla or overseas?

    5. Do individual politicians have the legal authority to claim libel and stifle freedom of speech by someone who is using a United States social media?

    6. Is blogger.com a prohibited website on Anguilla?

    7. What is the definition of libel in Anguilla constitution or statute laws?

    8. Is it possible for a blogger who resides on Anguilla to be libel on a US ISP that is protected from Libel in the United States?

    9. Does libel require the same measure of proof for private and public figures?

    The people at EEF will be interested in your unique case if it grows roots.
    http://www.eff.org/global/ Also see : www.gov.ai/E-commerce Policy.pdf

    Protection of freedom of expression

    1.Except with his own consent, no person shall not be hindered in the enjoyment
    of his freedom of expression, and for the purposes of this section the said freedom includes the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference, and freedom from interference with his correspondence and other means of communication.

    Perhaps it is time those old colonial statutes are put to the test. Either we have constitutional rights to freedom of speech or our rights will continue to be eaten away by politcians in the form of statute law.

  12. We are getting rather far afield here. Freedom of expression is wide, but not unlimited. The sole issue here, it seems to me, is whether the offending statements are true or false. The law protects my freedom to speak the truth. The law is not intended to protect my right to tell malicious lies.

    The law affords less protection to those who are public figures. I am thus free to say I don't like them or don't trust them. This does not give me the right to falsely accuse them of criminal acts.

    Others have said worse things about the Ministers than Justice Mitchell has. This has no relevance to the matter at hand.

    If I say something false and defamatory about an Anguillian, and his reputation in Anguilla is thereby damaged, I cannot deny my liability based on the technicality that the website involved is not in Anguilla. Were it otherwise, there would be chaos.

    I believe the Ministers have made a mistake. I believe they will lose their case, and will have succeeded only in giving this blog greater attention, visibility and readership.

  13. When negotiating with the British about the constitution please make sure that something is put in so that the government could no longer waste taxpayer dollars on lawsuits like this.

    If the people are not free to criticize the government you can be sure it would become corrupt if it was not already.

    I know first hand that at least one minister is corrupt.

  14. You are publishing in the US. Your lawyer should advise them of this in the next 7 days so that they know where they need to sue you. If they sue you in the wrong jurisdiction (Anguilla) I would hope the judge would toss it out right away.

    US law protecting free speech is very strong. No judge would hear a case against you for what you wrote.

    So either way, you should win. Thank God for the Internet.

  15. You may find this article interesting: "How the Net Closed on Prescott"

    http://media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,,1816527,00.html And this UK lawyer blogger


    Also see: Judgments - Jameel and others (Respondents) v. Wall Street Journal Europe Sprl (Appellants)

    Some questions on my mind is why the politicians did not ask you about the posting before they got a legal letter? Why did not one single politician comment publicly about the blog posting and state their position? If they had, would you not have published it? How any people read the post? How many persons commented on it?

    Becareful though UK law the burden is on the defendant. In the US, the plantiff only have to show harm was done. Bigger fish are behind this issue. I may explain another time in a more private medium. Then again a simple retraction may just get it over with.

    R Crew

  16. "So are they all, all honorable men,--"

    Some definitions of honorable:

    1) deserving of honor
    2) consistent with an untarnished reputation
    3) characterized by integrity

    Just getting elected does not automatically result in integrity. Another interesting poll would be to see if Anguillians think these men are in fact honorable or dishonorable. If there are more votes for dishonorable we could address them as Dishonorable so and so. Calling them honorable when they are not could confuse a jury.

  17. Post only if relevant. I know you cannot respond to us because you are consulting with your lawyers. Hope this info helps. Would be nice to get a hold of Anguilla Statute law pertaining to libel and defamation.
    Source: http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/home.law
    Media law
    Thursday 16 November 2006
    Publish and be reasonable
    Jameel and others v Wall Street Journal Europe Sprl [2006] UKHL 44

    Serious and responsible investigative journalism has been freed from the shackles of a defence intended to free it from the shackles of UK defamation law.

    The liberalising defence of public interest, colloquially known as the Reynolds privilege defence after Reynolds v Times Newspapers Ltd (see [1999] Gazette, 17 November, 38) has been given a new lease of life.

    Reynolds qualified privilege protects defamatory publications on a matter of public interest published responsibly. However, while intended to give greater protection to free speech, it has been construed strictly, leading to criticism that in effect it was nothing more than a series of high hurdles over which the media must clamber towards the distant defence of privilege.

    The decision by the House of Lords in Jameel has effectively torn down those hurdles, so that the route to success is no longer an obstacle course, but a potential venue in which the media may showcase the extent of its responsible journalism. According to one of the Law Lords hearing the case, Baroness Hale, ‘we need more such serious journalism in this country and our defamation law should encourage rather than discourage it’.

    How one assesses the extent of the responsible attitude of the publisher has been the sticking point for the defence so far. In Reynolds, Lord Nicholls set out a series of matters that could be taken into account by the court, expressing them as a non-exhaustive list. However, they soon came to be known – and treated – as a ‘ten-point test’. According to Lord Hoffman: ‘They are not tests which the publication has to pass. In the hands of a judge hostile to the spirit of Reynolds, they can become ten hurdles at any of which the defence may fail.’

    In Jameel, the newspaper tripped over some of those hurdles. The story was set against backdrop of the September 2001 attacks on the Pentagon in Washington and the Twin Towers in New York. When investigations revealed that most of the hijackers were from or had a connection with Saudi Arabia, a UN Security Council resolution was passed requiring all states to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts. The co-operation of the Saudi Arabian government and its central bank SAMA was sought, and whether they were complying with the resolution became a matter of interest and speculation. Dow Jones Europe published an article that referred to the fact that SAMA was monitoring the bank accounts of some of the country’s most prominent businessmen to prevent them from being used, wittingly or unwittingly, for the funnelling of funds to terrorist organisations. It included the name of the claimant’s company.

    The claimants took offence at suggestions that there were reasonable grounds to suspect and/or to investigate their involvement. The investigation, reporting and publishing of the article came under scrutiny, with the sources for the article and the timing of and way in which comment had been sought also considered. In particular, the lower courts took the view that not giving the claimant sufficient time to respond to the allegations, with the result that no counter argument was included, was fatal. The jury awarded damages.

    However, the Lords has now placed the defence firmly back within the reach of media defendants. Yes, they must act responsibly, but that does not mean ticking a set number of boxes. The court will assess whether the publication concerns a matter of public interest; according to Lord Hoffman: ‘Newspapers are not often the best judges of where the line should be drawn.’

    Then, if the general matter is one of public interest, the court considers whether the inclusion of the defamatory statement itself was justifiable. Here, importantly, there must be some room for ‘editorial judgement’; the defence should not be defeated simply because the judge may, with the ‘advantage of leisure and hindsight’, have made a different editorial decision. ‘Each piece of information will take its colour and its informative value from the context in which it is placed,’ said Lord Hope, echoing the margin of appreciation to be given to the media as to how a particular story is illustrated (referred to by the Lords in Campbell v MGN Ltd [2004] UKHL 22, [2004] 2 AC 457, [2004] 2 WLR 1232, [2004] EMLR 247). Having established that the publication as a whole, including the defamatory material, is in the public interest, the court then undertakes an analysis of whether the publication was responsible and fair.

    The Lords first considered that the article was one of significant public interest. ‘If the public interest defence does not succeed on the known facts of this case, it is hard to see it ever succeeding,’ said Baroness Hale. Next, it did not agree that the newspaper had failed to show it had behaved responsibly. Lord Bingham considered that ‘weight should ordinarily be given to the professional judgement of an editor or journalist in the absence of some indication that it was made in a casual, cavalier, slipshod or careless manner’, and that failure to allow the defence on the ground that the publication had not been delayed to allow comment from the subject was ‘a very narrow ground on which to deny the privilege’, which ‘subverts the liberalising intention of the Reynolds decision’. Lord Hoffman clarified: ‘The question in each case is whether the defendant behaved fairly and responsibly in gathering and publishing the information.’ While he thought that ‘it might have been better if the newspaper had delayed publication to give Mr Jameel an opportunity to comment in person’, given the steps taken to attempt to verify the story through other sources, ‘I do not think that their failure to do so is enough to deprive them of the defence that they were reporting on a matter of public interest’.

    Lord Scott added that newspapers and their reporters should ‘take such practical steps to verify the truth of what is reported. Fairness to those whose names appear in newspapers may require, if it is practicable, an opportunity to comment being given to them and/or an opportunity to have a response published by the newspapers’. But failure to do this will not necessarily deprive the defendant of the defence. Lord Scott continued: ‘These are all circumstances the weight of which in assessing whether a report should be protected by qualified privilege will vary from case to case. Lord Nichols made all of this clear in Reynolds.’

    This decision should interest not only those in the media field, but anyone who values the right to free speech and anyone who reads the newspapers. The Law Lords unanimously held that the defence had been too rigidly applied by the Court of Appeal; by a majority that no retrial was needed; and by a majority to reject the argument, also raised by the defendants, that corporate clients should prove financial loss to maintain an action in defamation.

    The overall result is clarification that the Reynolds defence is not a strait-jacket to constrain an unruly media, but rather a key to the door of press freedom that should only be closed if the media shows that it cannot be trusted with this privilege.

    The media may feel it has more lead in its pencil to write and publish stories of public interest, and that it is freed to use its editorial judgement as to how to illustrate stories of public interest. Whether and how this will translate into what we read in newspapers remains to be seen. But while Reynolds has been simmering on the stove for seven years, ten matters have been boiled down into one requirement – publish responsibly.

    By Amber Melville-Brown, consultant, David Price Solicitors & Advocates

    R. Crew

  18. I love the irony that you are being sued by a public official who is widely known as Mr 10%.

    Keep smiling Don.

  19. As a PR professional all I can do is shake my head and think, "The insipid fools." Had they not sued, your comment would have faded away into the netherworld as the plethora of all other discussions of their (dis)honesty have seemed to. In other words, it would have gone nowhere -- neither denied nor confirmed. Instead, this action will bring more press to bear which will result only in sharply focusing it in the public's awareness. I say, Don, use this bone they have thrown you and milk it! More people than the one who offered previously here will contribute to your defense (I certainly will!) because this matter now can be officially, legally and publicly flushed out.

    Long before your written statement there was much continuous conversation about how these enormous, lucrative developments have carried so much sway with the government. It has been well known that Anguilla per se is not profiting -- particularly from Viceroy. Well, well, well . . . if Anguilla is not profiting, SOMEBODY is.

    Now that you have been officially sued and the matter placed squarely in the public eye, perhaps an investigation and audit into these ministers' financial accounts -- both local and international -- should ensue.

    As Shakespeare wisely noted, "Methinks thou protesteth too much." The louder the protest, the more certain the guilt. Thank you, ministers, for confirming the suspicion to all Anguillians.

  20. A credible government would initiate an inquiry headed by an impartial and prominent individual to investigate the conduct of the ministers but, alas, Anguilla does not have a credible government.

    Perhaps some folks will proffer sufficient information about the financial affairs of these ministers that a court will support your right to ask many further and fascinating questions.

    Perhaps before this decade concludes the four ministers will gain the unenviable new habit of falling asleep and waking up to the same anxiety-ridden thought: “why oh why did we decide to sue… why did we amplify the voice of a formidable adversary.”

    It amazes me that seemingly intelligent individuals can collectively manifest such a complete absence of judgment. Their excessive self-confidence borders on self-delusion – I hope that they will experience humility to a degree that they have never imagined.

  21. If you update your blog article with the results of the online poll, in your letter informing them of this you could offer to do a larger and more scientific poll if this was not sufficient. I would be happy to contribute to the cost of such a poll and expect others would also.

  22. I am assumng whoever advise the HONOURABLE Minsiters to sue as private individuals wanted them to lose and be humiliated. Who in their right mind would want to expose themselves to show the financial cost they suffered because of an article that expounded on various view points. It is clear Don was trying to bring out the motives of the various people involve in the Indian issue. The funny thing is, I did not even get the impression his post was malicious to the ministers private reputation. I thought he did a great job of highlighting those that may be have other agendas. Initially, I thought he was on their side that some folks may be blowing the Indian issue out of control. And if his post was malicious, why did they ask him to sit at the table with them to discuss the consitution? Help me, I'm confuse.

    Then again we may get to see what damages cost their reputation if Don does not apologise in the Anguilllian to the ministers liking.

  23. Are these 4 honorable men also suing a bunch of the calypso singers? If not, why are they, "prepared to remain indifferent to such libelous allegations on their personal character" in these cases?

  24. Libel laws explained

    James Sturcke
    Thursday August 31, 2006
    Guardian Unlimited

    British libel laws were already complicated enough before the internet came along. Their aim is to balance the right of free speech against protection for the reputation of an individual from unjustified attack.

    In law, a person is defamed if statements in a publication expose him to hatred or ridicule, cause him to be shunned, lower him in the estimation in the minds of "right-thinking" members of society or disparage him in his work.

    Juries are told that the measuring stick of a libel being committed is whether any of this would affect how a "reasonable man" views the complainant.

    There are defences in law for libel. The publisher could prove the statement to be true, it could be fair comment - so long as the opinion is based on true facts, is genuinely held and not influenced by malice - or it could be protected by privilege (reporting of comments made in parliament, courts and other official arenas are, generally speaking, protected from libel actions).

    Since the 1998 Reynolds claim against Times Newspapers, it has become accepted that material published in the public interest is a further defence in libel proceedings.

    The problem for anyone preparing to publish information which may be defamatory, is that the laws are very much open to interpretation. Different juries will have different views on what exactly influences a right-thinking man.

    What is certain is that the legal costs of defending a libel action will be considerable, often running into hundreds of thousands of pounds. The loser almost always has to pay the costs of the winner, plus any damages awarded to the claimant.

    In effect, fighting libel cases is an expensive game of chicken, which newspapers are often reluctant to enter into, even when they believe they have a strong case.

    The emergence of the internet has further complicated the issue. Individuals now have a simple way of putting their writings online - with little or no review or vetting.

    Over the past decade, forums and online chats have introduced a new genre of writing, that in effect provides a written record of raw, impulsive conversations where most participants have paid scant consideration to any legal implications.

    Furthermore, internet postings can be read anywhere, bringing into question issues of jurisdiction. The internet has also been seen as a place where people can express themselves anonymously, although the rise of successful online child pornography and grooming prosecutions has raised awareness of the trail left by ISP addresses.

    Finally, there have also been past doubts about who is the actual publisher of online information and what, if any, protection they should have from being sued. In print, the primary publisher is the newspaper and any libel action would normally be directed against the author or editor or both.

    It is rare, though not unheard of, for the shop which sold the publication, known as the secondary publisher, also to have to pay out. The issue with online articles is whether the publisher is the person who runs the website, or the ISP which hosts it.


  25. There are some really good wikipedia articles on this topic:





  26. Another interesting one:

    >It is sufficient to prove that "the
    >substance, the gist, the sting, of the
    >matter is true."


    If 80% in an online poll say they are corrupt, and 80+% of the calypso singers say they are corrupt, the sting of "it is now generally accepted that ..." is correct. Odds are a bigger and more scientific poll would produce the same result.

  27. Hubert Hughes was on the radio Saturday saying that the government is corrupt. Will the government next be suing members of the opposition?

  28. Hubert Hughes calling the government corrupt is like the pot calling the kettle black.

    HH accepted an expensive watch and did not realize this was wrong till someone told him. He would grant work permits to anyone who rented an apartment from him and not understand why all these people needing work permits were renting from him. He built a building and planned to have the government he was leading rent it from him, and did not see any problem.

    With the current leaders they at least understand what they are doing. I am not sure which is worse for Anguilla.

    We need some laws about ethical government and conflicts of interest. Right now it may not even be breaking any laws when a ministers friend gets shares in some company so that the government will grant them some license.
    We think of it as a pay off, and corrupt, but it may not be illegal. It should be though.

    If the rumors are true, someone could search through company records and come up with a bunch of interesting 10% owners and figure out which ministers were friends of these owners.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.