03 March, 2009


It cost me a lot of money. The first thing I teach my pupils when we are studying the tort of defamation is, “Don’t repeat gossip that a person is suspected of being corrupt unless you have the evidence”. The way the law is written at present, it does not matter how many people suspect that the gossip you repeated is true. It does not matter what Percy is saying, or what the calypsonians are singing. If you are sued, and if you do not have credible and convincing and admissible evidence, you will lose. That is what happened to me.

A few days ago, I was informed that the matter brought against me by the four ministers for the item I published on 4 July 2007 has been settled.

A pity I did not first read my own lecture notes before I pressed the “send” button.


  1. Don, it goes to what I was just saying in an earlier comment. I believe you have a lot to add to Anguilla, and despite the shrillness I believe you do what you do out of love for the island. But much of what you write is rumor, hearsay, unsubstantiated and often stuff that no serious journalist would every publish.

    Now, it can be said that blogging is not serious journalism. But you, with your stature and history, should rise to the level of serious journalism. Fact-checking is not just Law 101, it's journalism 101.

    I love that you openly criticize, without fear, and much of what you say is so blatantly common sense that you often do expose the emperors as having no clothes. But other times...


    I'm sorry, but not surprised, you had to settle. And you didn't obfuscate why you had to settle.

    I hope it brings a sharper, more substantiating Don to this blog. Because the island does need a voice such as yours, one that is taken seriously at all times. Take care.

  2. And so the rich and corrupt only get richer. I'm really glad that you carry on showing the people where the issues lie - you can't rely on the newspapers or radio to report the issues that show where Anguilla has been sold down the river by people who one must think are either receiving back handers or who are so out of their depth they should not be holding the responsible posts they do.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Don, It takes a man of courage to speak the trueth, The Chief Minister had to use ,what he believes his is privilage to attack you on the radio. Of course he thinks thats his democratic right. He seems to forget he's nothing more than the representitive of those people who elected him in. Hands up , I was one. Never again will I be taken by this bunch of Con Men

  4. This is the forth time o've tried to get through. Your absoloutley right that you're being blocked. So much for Democracy.

  5. And people wonder why we post anonymously.

  6. Don, you obviously have your following of people who don't even read what you write, just mindlessly support you.

    It DOES take a man of courage to speak out. It takes a man of responsibility and integrity, a true investigative journalist, to dig and check facts. It's more work, of course, but you are either serious about this or not.

    Otherwise, just publish this as a blog that repeats hearsay and gossip and innuendo, but that nothing is necessarily founded on anything more than on what you happen to hear or surmise. Include a disclaimer to that effect.

    (And you do know that at least two of your sources are afraid of telling you anything, not because you might report it, but because "back room gossip" ends up in your blog, unchecked. You know that, right?)

    Your editorials on matters of fact are brilliant and necessary to help this developing nation go to the next level (although the next level does not behave much better, I'm afraid). Your "reporting," on the other hand, deserves the quotations that I wrap the word in.

    This particular post was not about anything more than exactly what you stated up top.

    I'll sign these as the DonChecker, since maybe I can help do for you, what you I believe are trying to do for good governance in Anguilla. But a man can only bring a government to bear when his own practices are above reproach.

    With warm regards and hoping you raise your standards,


  7. Mr. Mitchell: You write, "A few days ago, I was informed that the matter brought against me by the four ministers for the item I published on 4 July 2007 has been settled."

    You make it sound as though you were not a participant in the decision to settle; is that accurate? If you, as the party to the case, did not decide to settle the case, then who did? An insurance carrier?

    Do you know for what amount(s) the matter settled? If no, why not (it was, after all, your case)? If yes, do you choose not to reveal the amount? Or was there an agreement as to confidentiality?

    I ask, in large measure, because your readers might wrongly believe that a "settlement" is the same as the plaintiff/ministers prevailing. Nothing, of course, could be farther from the truth. Parties settle matters all the time, for reasons that may or may not illuminate the merits of the underlying claim.

    Perhaps--if we knew the amount of the settlement--we, the readers, could conclude for ourselves the "value" of these ministers' reputation, which you were alleged to have slandered. If, as I suspect, the amount was not that great, the same might be said of the ministers' pre-slander reputation(s).

    An inquiring public wants to know.

    In any event, please keep doing what you do so well; that is why we read this most important publication.

  8. Keep up the good work! You don't turn your head when you see issues that should be brought into the open! Don't stop now!

  9. How does your payment compare to the fine paid by that minister who shot an unlicensed gun over that couples head? Rumor is that you paid about twice as much. Does Anguilla really think that writing something that is nearly correct is twice as bad as shooting a gun over someone's head?

  10. I am not sure that the minister who discharged a firearm in public was ever charged with that offence. If he were to be found guilty of that offence, I believe it would have affected his political career severely. I believe he was found guilty of possessing two unlicenced firearms and required to pay a substantial sum in three installments.

  11. Just a note of caution.

    I am getting too many anonymous comments that are either overtly defamatory, or so by innuendo. I had about 30 yesterday, and about 50 today. They appear to be deliberate and malicious. I have had to spend a lot of time reading, and editing or deleting them.

    It is difficult to find the time to do this. If it continues, I may have to limit commenting rights to only a selected few of my correspondents. I would not want to have to do that.

    But, it is a viable alternative to spending hours reading lengthy scripts of illiterate, hate filled, or simply malicious tripe. I am seriously considering doing it.


  12. I guess laws are slightly different all over the World, St. Maarten Private Eye got a legal letter not so long ago demanding content be removed, I reviewed what had been written and the comments it received and unpublished or edited a little. But I had a couple people who were prepared to stand up for what they had written.

    Blogs are not newspapers, bloggers are not journalists in the traditional sense. A bloggers writing can be discussed, debated and the opportunity to refute or confirm information within them is available. A newspaper does not permit this unless you write a letter to be printed the next day. On SXM, and I am sure it is much the same in Anguilla, you go about your business daily but you hear nuggets and snippets of information from various sources on various issues. I encourage my readers to post these tidbits.

    Wording can be very important. For example whilst fighting against the development and destruction in Dawn Beach there was a series of blogs with the title "Columbia Sussex- Environmental Criminals?" The key part of that title is the question mark. In the blogs the argument that they were was laid out and the readers left to decide, the information was factual and users were invited to add to or correct it.

    There are other times, when there are rumors, but isn't repeating those rumors, as well as stating that's what they are permissible? For anything that my writers don't have proof of, I require that they let it be known that information is not confirmed. If for example it is suspected that Roy Marlin owns a luxury villa, it is fine for us to repeat that rumor. Roy Marlin, if he doesn't like it, can easily refute or deny it if he chooses to.

    It is tricky. But people should not think of Blogs as Newspapers, they are not. Every effort should of course be made to find out actual truths and facts a blog site's integrity is related. Most blog sites are biased too, a fact that I make publicly open and clear on SXM Private Eye. The sites stands for protection of the environment, sustainable development, human rights, civil rights, animal rights, transparency, good governance, accountability and raising the public's awareness and involvement in politics and government. No secret there at all, if people don't like it or don't agree they are quite welcome to go start their own.

    Just some pennies...

    Flipper - SXM Private Eye

  13. Flipper, to those who don't know, is the Don Mitchell of St. Maarten with his or her "SXM Private Eye" blog:
    He or she gets not only lawyer letters but death threats, but continues to expose the truth on our neighbouring island.

  14. A blogger is entitled to say John Brown owns a luxury yatch. However, he is not entitled to say, without proof, that John Brown acquired the luxury yatch with kick-back money from drug lords or with bribe money from developers.

    It is this need to embellish the truth which gets bloggers into trouble. Blogging is a very serious responsibility.

    Blog at you own risk!


  15. Mr. Mitchell, the CM is quoted in today's "Anguillian" to say that the settlement has "cleared" the Ministers. Many of us believe otherwise. OJ Simpson made a similar claim after he was found not guilty of murder. Some people, including the police and district attorney, believed he was guilty. They failed to prove this. That doesn't prove he didn't do it, or that he was "cleared." Neither have our Ministers.

    Mr. Fleming also claims that the allegations of corruption made to the Foreign Affairs Committee all arose from your improper accusation. The FAC received messages from a number of people in Anguilla who asked that the information and their identity be held in confidence. We do not know how many such messages the FAC received, or how many of them may have included accusations of corruption. There is no evidence, as the CM suggests, that all of these accusations were inspired by you.

    I am reminded of TCI Premier Michael Misick, who announced that he couldn't have done anything corrupt because the Governor was the Chairman of ExCo.

    I do not know if our Ministers have done anything corrupt. A lot of Anguillians have their own opinions on this point. I don't know what to believe, but I certainly don't believe that your settlement has cleared all of our leaders of all guilt and all suspicion. Until they change the law, I am still entitled to believe what I wish.

  16. Does anyone know when the draft constitution will be distributed? The British diplomats will soon be here and the public has not had an opportunity to read the document and make comments.

  17. The draft constitution is a State Secret. It will be released when our honest, non-corrupt, open, transparent and accountable leaders feel like it. Until then, to quote HM the Tsarina on another matter, "Frankly, it's none of your business."

    Please remember that the Anguilla United Front "is committed to and guided by the need for transparent, accountable, open government."

  18. WOW. This could so easily be mistaken for a Blogsite from here in Jersey Channel Islands.

    Not only the subject matter but the amount of people posting anonymously, possibly out of fear of being identified by your Government.

    It is much the same over here, people (like myself) have been forced into Blogging because our Oligarchy appear to be answerable to nobody and have a "very special relationship" with our media.

    Most commenters post anonymously out of fear of reprisals from our Oligarchy, this is Democracy "the Jersey way".

    Keep speaking out my friend!

  19. Will British libel law kill net free speech?
    open Democracy News Analysis



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