Lalla-land: My game of legal bluff with Jack Warner (Part one)
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)
Independent Liberal Party (ILP) interim leader and ex-FIFA vice president Jack Warner sued me for substantial damages, a retraction and public apology as well as legal costs but he ended up offering an apology instead, via a legal document lodged in the High Court.
Here is the real story of Jack Warner, William McCormick QC, Om Lalla and Dereck Balliram versus Lasana Liburd, journalist and Wired868 managing director.
On 27 February 2013, I tried to make myself comfortable in the KR Lalla and Company’s waiting room on Edward Street, Port of Spain. In a few minutes, I expected to meet attorney Dereck Balliram, who was representing Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner in our libel matter, and finally look him in the eye and make my feelings clear.
But the afternoon did not go as I imagined; not even close.
Balliram’s office was a stone’s throw from where I sat and I could heard his secretary announce my presence.
“Mr Liburd is here in the lobby,” she said.
She seemed to pause for dramatic effect.
“And,” she continued, “he is representing himself!”
In a split second, I heard the laughter from Balliram and his secretary flood the reception area.
I do not think it possible for a man of my complexion to turn red; but, just this once, I felt like I did.
Balliram never stepped outside his office to greet me. His secretary returned with my forms for the notification of a change of attorney and I signed where she pointed before being politely shown the door.
I felt like a delivery boy.
That was the day my libel case with Warner started in earnest.
The then Minister of National Security had Balliram as instructing attorney, Om Lalla as advocate attorney and British barrister William McCormick QC as the guy who would lead the charge in court. I, a freelance journalist and owner of the Wired868 site that had not made a dollar up to that point, had just agreed to take them all on.
If I lost, Warner was seeking: a full and public retraction of the publication and an apology in their terms, a promise not to repeat or re-publish the allegation, an undertaken that I remove all articles related to the article, the payment of a substantial sum in damages to demonstrate the baselessness of the allegation and compensation for the injury to his reputation and distress and the payment of his legal costs.Read More