The publishers of WIC News, an online media portal, have pulled a story about Attorney-General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin following threats of a lawsuit for defamation.
The news agency made several allegations about Benjamin that he has since rejected as false and defamatory.
In response, Benjamin yesterday disparaged the WIC story, saying it is not representative of a free press; rather, he calls it “political scandal-mongering that demeans journalistic standards.”
The AG says, further, that the publication of the article was “an obvious malicious endeavour that is politically motivated and groundless in fact.”
However, he does not elaborate on that accusation, nor does he identify whom he suspects is behind the article.
Benjamin, who is also the Minister of Legal Affairs, says the story has the potential to ruin his image and that of Antigua and Barbuda. Accordingly, he says that “this malicious libel will be met head-on, if the publication does not remove the story and apologize.”
He continues, “Should the publishers, wittingly or unwittingly, continue to participate in this political smearing, I will not hesitate to invoke all legal measures for remedial action.”
The offending article was removed from the website today; however, no apology – as demanded – had been posted up to press time.
Responding to the allegations made in the deleted article, Benjamin asserts that Antigua & Barbuda’s legal system is not controlled by any single person. Therefore, the allegations cannot be substantiated “because they are blatantly false,”he says.
WIC News appears as a London-based media portal that covers several islands in the OECS, including Antigua & Barbuda, “and beyond.” Its motto, according to its website, is “Unfolding the truth.”
Given its home base, Benjamin is threatening to file a suit in a court in England, and adds that he will be seeking substantial damages.
“I have given the publishers of WIC News a fair opportunity not to be used as a political football and to act properly,” Benjamin says.
Meanwhile, however, at least one local online-news portal has reproduced some of the allegations made against the Attorney-General, and these remain available for viewers to read.