Shortly after the last sitting of parliament, Kenny Anthony addressed the nation on TV to explain, as he said, the so-called Grynberg Affair and why the matter had remained a secret for close to ten years. In the process the former prime minister, now leader of the opposition, had referred to the Central Castries MP Richard Frederick, Guy Joseph and Rufus Bousquet as follows: “Like the political cowards they are, they sought and relied on the privileges of the House to publish these deliberately fabricated lies to the world. All three chose to publish these defamatory allegations in the House during the debate after I had made my budget reply in the certain knowledge that I could not and would not be allowed to contest their baseless allegations, since I did not have the right to reply to them.
“All three knew full well that they could not be sued for anything which they said in parliament, because parliamentarians enjoy the defense of absolute privilege from cases brought against them for statements made in the House of Assembly. They dare not repeat them outside the precincts of the House.”
He said he had been “falsely and maliciously” accused in parliament of “taking money from a foreign company” and also “of selling out the waters of Saint Lucia to the same company. These are exceedingly false allegations calculated to injure my integrity and honor in a year of general elections. This time they have gone too far.”
Anthony also warned that “their supporters who repeat such allegations are not similarly protected,” and fingered by name “two activists of the United Workers Party” who he claimed had posted on Facebook “the defamatory statements made in parliament by the trio of ministers.” Said the opposition leader, they had “72 hours to remove the statement or face legal action.”
Yesterday, via his legal representatives, the Saint Lucia Labour Party leader seemed to act on his televised threats. Addressed to Richard Frederick, their letter advised: “We are instructed by our client that during the parliamentary budget debate of the week of 18 April 2011 you dishonestly sought the protection of the privileges of the House of Assembly and made the following inter alia false and defamatory allegations of and concerning our client: ‘Since when an individual’s liability to government is discharged by paying a minister? And don’t tell me it means government. If government had to be inserted, a government would have been inserted here. So you see why all the rights to our waters were sold: because the agreement clearly says royalties shall be paid to the minister personally. The very main signatory to that agreement makes every piece of noise with any bit of authority conferred on a minister but today you are signing an agreement so that if the person gets oil and they owe the government four percent or six percent they have to pay you. It wasn’t said by me. It’s in the agreement and the agreement is signed by Kenny Anthony who was prime minister at the time, and signed it. We are dealing with a man who has a PhD in law. We are dealing with a man every piece of legislation that comes here, if it gives the minister any little bit of authority he says no, don’t give the minister any authority, cater for transparency. But you as prime minister can sign an agreement to pay the minister personally.’ ”
The letter continues: These allegations, whether in their natural and ordinary meaning or by innuendo . . . meant and were understood to mean . . . our client Dr Kenny D Anthony had negotiated and executed a contract while prime minister of Saint Lucia with one Grynberg or related companies, and which fraudulently provided for the payment of royalties derived from the contract to be paid to him personally and not to the government of Saint Lucia . . . Indeed, the clear allegation and or the inevitable inference from your statements was that royalty statements were in fact dishonestly and corruptly made or were to be made personally and received by our client.”
Moreover: “We are instructed by our client that following these false and defamatory allegations by you of and concerning our client in the House, you have made and published to the public the same or additional defamatory statements and allegations of our client, in that you have since affixed to your motor vehicle registration number 9900 a sticker in a prominent and conspicuous place at the top of the front windscreen the following words: ‘Kenny you signed: Royalties shall be paid to the minister.’ On the rear windscreen of the said vehicle you also affixed a sticker in a bold, prominent and conspicuous place, with the following words: ‘I believe in loyalty not royalty . . .’ ”
Anthony’s attorneys have demanded in their client’s behalf, the following apology and retraction be published: “On my motor vehicle registration number 9900 I had affixed to it a sticker which bore the words, ’Kenny you signed, royalties to the minister,’ which words had the effect, whether directly or indirectly, of the serious defamatory statements I made of the Honourable Dr Kenny D Anthony in the House of Assembly during the week of 18 April 2011. The words meant and were understood to mean that Dr Anthony had dishonestly negotiated a contract on behalf of the government with the intention that the payments of royalties under the contract were to be paid to him personally, for his own use and benefit and that payments were in fact made to him personally.
“I now accept and recognize that the statements made by me are false and have no foundation in fact whatsoever. I wish to take this opportunity to completely and unequivocally retract these statements about Dr. Anthony and I regret I ever made them. I also wish to apologize to the Honourable Dr Kenny D Anthony for any distress and embarrassment I have caused to him by the publication of these statements and undertake never to repeat them.”
Finally: “Kindly be advised that should you fail to act as demanded by our client and ourselves, our client will institute proceedings against you without further notice for defamation on the basis of aggravated damages and costs.”
At time of going to press, neither Richard Frederick nor Dr Anthony’s representatives were accessible for comment. Meanwhile, readers may refer to detailed reporting on the Grynberg controversies in STAR of June 1 and June 8.