T&T: $75,000 defamation award for Facebook lies
A WOMAN who posted a lie on Facebook that a female prison officer had abandoned her children roadside, must pay $75,000 in compensation for defamation.
In addition, Ama Charles will also have to pay the legal costs of prison officer Heidi Joseph.
The judgement was handed down by Justice Margaret Mohammed in the Hall of Justice, Port of Spain.
It is the second such judgement this year related to defamation on social media.
In February, Justice Frank Seepersad ordered that Facebook user Janelle Burke compensate an entire family for libelous claims made on Burke’s personal page.
The judge said Burke made ‘reckess and scandalous” claims that the family of engaging in incest, that the father of the family was a rapist who was engaging in sexual activities with his stepson and daughter, and that the seven-year-old was involved in prostitution at school.
The amount of compensation to be paid by Burke is to be assessed by a Master of the Court.
In Wednesday’s judgement, Justice Mohammed said that the claims made by Charles against prison officer Joseph, “ were of a very serious nature since it called into question the fitness of (Joseph) as a parent in a society where the acts of parents with their children are under immense scrutiny both by private citizens and state agencies.”
Joseph gave evidence that on January 24 2016, she dropped her children off at the home of their father and continued on her way to work with the knowledge that the children would be safe in the care of their father.
Joseph said that she then received messages and phone calls from the father who chastised her for leaving the children, and messages from her co-workers and a supervisor at the Women’s Prison, Golden Grove, that a person called ‘Emma’ made several calls and left several messages to the prison requesting that she collect her children.
On the same day, Ama Charles posted on Facebook: “Trying to get on to Heidi Joseph she left her kids in the road at my home and I am unable to contact her. Anyone with information or who can relay the message please assist asap?? Beyond the Tape Ian Alleyne The TV6 News.”
The post was also shared on the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service’s Facebook page.
“Trying to get on to Heidi Joseph she left her kids in the road at my home and I am unable to contact her. Anyone with information or who can relay the message please assist asap?? Beyond the Tape Ian Alleyne The TV6 News.”
Joseph took Charles to court for posting certain statements on the social media website, Facebook on January 24, 2016.