A High Court judge has given former national security minister Austin Jack Warner until March 19 to file a defence to a lawsuit brought against him by his one time Cabinet colleague and Attorney General Anaand Ramlogan.
Warner had sought a three week extension, but Justice Robin Mohammed also warned Warner, the interim leader of the recently formed Independent Liberal Party (ILP), that if the defence is not filed by March 19, he would be debarred from defending the claim brought against him.
Ramlogan had taken issue with statements made by Warner on the political platform during last year’s Local government elections.
The lawsuit alleges that Warner’s words, in their “natural and ordinary meaning,” were understood to mean that, among other things, Ramlogan was involved in corruption and scandal and was guilty of corruption, abuse of power or misconduct in public office.
Justice Mohammed also ordered Warner, the former vice-president of the International Football Federation (FIFA), to pay costs estimated at TT$12,000 (One TT dollar = US$0.16 cents).
Ramlogan’s attorneys had objected to the extension arguing that the pre-action protocol letter had been served on Warner on November 12 last year and that he had sufficient timeto file a defence.
But one of Warner’s attorneys, Keith Scotland, said that he had only became involved in the matter on January 29, replacing attorney Om Lalla and, as such, needed to take proper instructions from their client before filing the defence.
“These are serious allegations, so we want to verify the transcript and the video. We are new attorneys in this matter, so we would like to sit with our client and get instructions in this very serious matter,” said Scotland.
Warner is also challenging two other lawsuits filed against him by Works Minister Surujrattan Rambachan and expelled ILP councillor Faaiq Mohammed. They both claim that Warner had defamed their character on a political platform.