2885476
Defamation

A defamation lawsuit brought against former president of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Lynsley Doodhai by a school principal has been dismissed.

In dismissing the claim on Monday, Justice Devindra Rampersad also ordered Joy Arjoon-Singh, principal of the Ste Madeleine Secondary School to pay costs.

In her claim, Arjoon-Singh alleged that Doodhai had perpetrated relentless and unjustifiable slanderous and libelous personal attacks on her, using his office as the president of the TTUTA as a camouflage for his personal and/or vindictive attack on her character.

However, the judge found that “at all material times the defendant was acting as a member and president of the TTUTA,” and, “the defendant is clothed in the immunity granted by that statutory provision.”

In a release, TTUTA ’s general secretary Kady Beckles noted that the claim was brought after a similar matter filed against the association in March 2017 was dismissed in January 2018.

In that matter, she contended that the defamatory remarks were made by the Association and Doodhai in highlighting the state of affairs at the Ste Madeleine Secondary School.

Beckles stated: “This decision, just like the one in January 2018, is especially important and significant to all trade unions in Trinidad and Tobago.

“The judgment reinforces the position that any official of a trade union, acting on behalf of its members as directed by the union, is clothed in immunity from defamation and slander, under Section 6 of the Trade Disputes and Protection of Property Act.”

TTUTA, she added, reassures its members the national community that it would continue to act resolutely in the defence and interest of all its members and education generally, without fear or favour, to pursue justice, as was done in this situation.”

She said TTUTA would continue to promote the cause of education and would not be intimidated, deterred, or repulsed from carrying out its legitimate function as the recognised majority union for teachers.

TTUTA also expresses its appreciation to their attorneys Sushma Gopeesingh and Vonetta Adams.