AG’s defamation case will be called for hearing next month
October 13, 2021 12:38 pm
Former SODELPA MP Ratu Isoa Tikoca’s lawyer has filed summons seeking orders from the Court to set aside the interlocutory judgment made earlier.
Tikoca was ordered to pay $80,000 to Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum for defamatory comments.
Sayed-Khaiyum had filed a writ of summons against Tikoca and sought relief in damages for libel and slander, punitive exemplary and aggravated damages.
The writ of summons also included an order that Tikoca render in writing a public retraction and apology to Sayed-Khaiyum to be published in daily newspapers.
In the application before the Court, Tikoca’s lawyer today alleged that he was never served with the Writ of Summons and was not aware of the proceedings before the Court.
However, this was opposed by Sayed-Khaiyum’s lawyers and submitted that Tikoca had engaged Vuataki Law after being duly served.
The AG’s lawyer adds that on 23rd May 2019, Vuataki Law had written to them proposing a settlement.
In the correspondence, the civil action numbers were also noted and this confirmed that Tikoca had received the Writ and had instructed his lawyer to prepare a settlement proposal.
Tikoca’s lawyer has been given 21 days to file his response and is given until November 5th to file further responses.
The Attorney General had sued Tikoca for comments he made during an interview with a Sydney community radio station earlier this year which was posted on a Facebook page – Fiji Exposed Forum.
The court heard that in about January or February 2018, in the interview Ratu Isoa spoke in the iTaukei language and made statements against Sayed-Khaiyum.
The former SODELPA MP had claimed that the AG was engaging in devious schemes, criminal and illegal acts and that he was engaged in discrimination and racism.
The High Court ruled that the allegations were serious in nature and Ratu Isoa does not have any license or freedom to make such claims unless they are true in nature and justifiable on very strong grounds.
It also stated the defamatory material was addressed to listeners on a popular radio station and would have come to the notice of a very large number of people.
The Court ruled the broadcast was designed to cause widespread damage to the Attorney General.
Ratu Isoa’s words were then transcribed in the English language and the said transcript was circulated on a prominent social media platform which the court says caused a great deal of embarrassment to Sayed-Khaiyum.
The High Court ruling in February states Ratu Isoa’s statement caused substantial damage to Sayed-Khaiyum’s reputation in his capacity as the Member of Parliament, Minister for Economy and the Attorney General.
The accused was ordered to pay $80,000 defamation cost to the Attorney General.
The matter has been adjourned to 8th November for hearing.