Leader of the Opposition Refuses to Apologize to Police Commissioner

Leader of the Opposition Refuses to Apologize to Police Commissioner

The Leader of the Opposition, Shyne Barrow, via his attorney from Barrow and Williams, says he will not apologize to the Police Commissioner, Chester Williams.  The tension between the two men rose when Barrow issued an ad accusing the commissioner of issuing gun licenses to persons with criminal records.  In the letter from Shyne’s attorney, it was written that, quote, “The statements made in the press release are not defamatory towards Mr. Williams for the following reasons: (1) the Commissioner of Police is the entity empowered to issue and renew gun licences in Belize under the Firearms Act; (2) though Kurtis Usher’s gun licence may have been issued by a previous Commissioner of Police, the present Commissioner of Police had renewed his gun licence; (3) the clear meaning of the words is not defamatory of Mr. Williams. If the words are found to be defamatory, they are qualifiedly privileged as the Honourable Dr. Barrow has a moral and social duty to speak on issues of national security; (4) the statements comprise our client’s honest opinion on matters of public interest. His right to fair comment is protected by Section 16 of the Defamation Act, and (5) our client did not intend to harm Mr. Williams, if any harm was suffered. At all material times, our client’s aim was to raise awareness of issues of paramount national importance.  Therefore, our client will not retract his statements or indemnify Mr. Williams, as he was within his rights to make the statements made in his press release, and no damage was suffered. He rejects any imputation that the words were defamatory of Mr. Williams. As a public official, the Commissioner of Police is subject to reasonable public scrutiny and cannot stifle minor criticisms.”  End of quote.

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