Derek Achong

The deputy chairman of the United National Congress (UNC)’s San Fernando West Constituency has withdrawn her defamation lawsuit against businesswoman and social activist Jowelle de Souza.

Nalini Seudath, who is also a school teacher, took the decision as the case came up for electronic hearing before Justice Kevin Ramcharan, earlier this week.

Based on her decision, Seudath was ordered to pay de Souza’s legal costs for defending the lawsuit.

In her lawsuit, Seudath was claiming that de Souza, who unsuccessfully contested the constituency as an independent candidate in the 2015 general election, made defamatory comments about her in a Facebook post published on July 21, 2017.

“As a result of the defendant’s libellous statements, the claimant’s reputation has been severely damaged and/or tarnished not only as a school teacher but also as a political figure. Furthermore, she has faced a great deal of ridicule by not only her students but also her colleagues due to the Defendant’s Facebook post,” Seudath’s attorney Sherman Mc Nicolls Jr. said in her legal filings.

In her defence, de Souza’s lawyers described the case as scandalous, frivolous, and vexatious.

“The claim is an abuse of the court’s process because the claimant’s character is such that she has no reputation capable of being damaged, and thus the claim cannot serve the legitimate purpose of protecting a reputation which in law and fact she does not possess,” they said.

While de Souza’s lawyers called on Seudath to prove that she (de Souza) published the post as she did not admit so, they claimed that the words did not carry the defamatory meaning as suggested.

They also noted that the alleged comment came after Seudath allegedly used two Facebook accounts, which do not bear her legal name, to post inflammatory comments about her and the fact that she (De Souza) underwent sex reassignment surgery.

“The Defendant avers that the publication made was honest comment made in good faith and without malice upon a matter of public interest, to wit, matters of improper and/or inappropriate and/or discriminatory behaviour by a political figure,” they said.

De Souza was represented by Anand Ramlogan, SC, Douglas Bayley and Jared Jagroo.