Give Kenny His Jacket: Kudos to Prime Minister

Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony: What does he think of the several threats of libel suits levelled at RCI’s Timothy Poleon?

Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony: What does he think of the several threats of libel suits levelled at RCI’s Timothy Poleon?

At the risk of being sued for defamation by someone claiming to be a distant relative of Father Time, I can’t help noting how time flies—even when absolutely no one’s having fun. The possible exception being Timothy Poleon, whose special gift is he could be laughing his head off while reading the latest preposterous political press release and he alone would know it.
Suddenly the perpetually poker-faced Poleon is the region’s most discussed broadcaster. But already I’ve digressed. This piece is not supposed to be about Tim. Already he’s had more publicity in three weeks than had been afforded him throughout his over-two-decades behind the microphone.

Which returns us to what I started out saying about time. Nearly a month ago, the nation was treated to surprising appearances by the rarely seen, rarely heard minister responsible for our nation’s safety; two in a matter of hours.
Those of us who imagined he had risked coming out into the light so we might learn something uplifting about our inoperative multi-million-dollar crime lab; the acknowledged over 400 unresolved homicides and pending rape cases, as usual doomed finally to be abandoned; the announced on going IMACS investigation into the alleged police execution of five or more citizens in 2011; or perhaps even an enlightening word on the Grynberg mystery, well, we soon confronted discombobulating reality.

The minister responsible for keeping your hide and mine safe from terrorist bombs, steel-piercing bullets, razor-sharp cutlasses and 12-inch carving knives, had driven himself from his air-conditioned waterfront offices to RSL on the Morne, only to gripe on-air for close to an hour about what he had perceived as yet another sneaky raid on his reputation.

Remarkably, he did not say what precisely was his reputation, or the nature of the attack by persons known and unknown—all of whom, he nevertheless promised would soon be receiving from him via his lawyers words not likely to leave them feeling particularly secure.

Sounding like the campaigning, secretly afflicted Ronald Reagan when he claimed intercontinental ballistic missiles could be recalled once launched, the security minister, cleverly bragging in the third person, said: “My fellow Saint Lucians, over the last few months there has been a concerted attack on the minister with responsibility for home affairs, legal affairs and national security in relation to a number of matters concerning my portfolio and concerning me personally.”

While he believed “good government requires public figures to answer to the public and the media,” he said it had become clear to him that “over the last few weeks and months” there had been “a concerted effort to undermine me in my personal capacity and in my professional capacity. Clearly this cannot be allowed to continue.”

Would RSL have permitted a less privileged citizen so affronted, if only in his own mind, to make such free use of the station? Shouldn’t the station’s managers have respectfully redirected the security minister to the same lawyers he had “instructed to pursue certain legal action?”

As I say, he did not reveal what precisely were the defamatory comments. Only that there remained “others to be served,” besides the RCI broadcaster.

Since then, Timothy Poleon has received from the minister’s attorneys a letter demanding of a written apology and compensatory damages for having read on-air a particular item then, as now, on the internet.

By reliable account Poleon complied, though not to the minister’s satisfaction. I am reliably informed that the minister’s legal representatives instructed the broadcaster that he would soon receive from them a suitably worded apology, to which he was expected to affix his signature. Alas, three weeks later no such letter has reached Poleon.

At the weekend it was reported that lawyers representing Alva Baptiste, the external affairs minister, had also demanded from Poleon an apology and money for reasons similar to the justice minister’s. Meanwhile, various other media outlets, mainly overseas, including the internet, have been reporting a third minister and the president of the senate have also demanded from Poleon more apologies and compensatory dollars.

Moreover, while there have been no further apologies from Poleon, it is widely bruited about that some of the allegedly bruised parties have been secretly meeting with lawyers representing Radio Caribbean and Poleon, perchance to avoid too much egg on too many faces.

In the meantime, apologies and monetary compensation have also been demanded of a Dennery resident and regular caller to Newsspin who reportedly is wheelchair-bound and in no position to afford legal representation. By reliable account, he was given a date, now passed, by which to submit his apology but has so far not complied. More on that in due course.

In all of this, one thing stands out. Although he was mentioned more than once in the   article at the center of this report, Saint Lucia’s prime minister has at time of writing neither issued a related statement nor a demand from Poleon of apologies and money.

No surprise that a new rumor is now making the rounds, and it is that the prime minister’s advice was never sought before those demanding letters went out to the RCI broadcaster. Moreover, that he has since suggested the complainers should “back off.” At time of writing it was not possible to confirm such reports.

In any event, bearing in mind all that has been said and the consequences to Saint Lucia’s image, I say hat’s off to the prime minister. Yes, I actually wrote that. Now read it again. Kudos to Kenny Anthony, famous as he is for his evident love of litigation, for having the perspicacity that for once had led him—if not others of his tribe—to let sleeping dogs lie.

Or should that be to let lying dogs sleep?

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