From L-R: Dr. Hubert O'Neal, Carmelita Jamieson and Julian Willock
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Dr. Hubert O'Neal has won his lawsuit against Julian Willock dba Advanced Marketing and Professional Services Ltd., the publisher of Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) and VINO's previous Editor, Carmelita Jamieson, regarding an article published last year.
Master Charlesworth Tabor heard the case on September 24, 2012 and awarded judgment in default to Dr. O'Neal.
A decision on the amount in compensation that Dr. O'Neal should receive will be made in the coming weeks.
The court also threw out two claims, one relating to Dr. O'Neal's inclusion of Julian Willock in an amended statement of claim and the other to have Jamieson's name struck out from the claim.
A signed affidavit by Willock in support of his appeal to have his name struck from Dr. O'Neal's claim was obtained by BVI Platinum News.
"The First Defendant [Willock] is not a trading company and this information was publicly available at all material times on all pages of the website owned and operated by the First Defendant at www.virginislandsnewsonline.com which indicates - "This online news site is the sole property of and is operated by Advanced Marketing and Professional Services dba Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) in the Virgin Islands". The amended claim was in no way due to the error or fault of the Defendants who are being asked to expend sums to file an amended Acknowledgement of Service and an amended Defence," the affidavit signed by Willock indicated.
Jamieson has since relocated to Guyana and had announced during a radio programme aired on ZBVI that she was leaving VINO to pursue legal studies.
Dr. O'Neal, who contested the General Elections of 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 as a National Democratic Party (NDP) Candidate, contended that the VINO article headlined 'Dr. O'Neal files suit against niece' and dated December 15, 2011 contained words which were defamatory.
In the claim, Dr. O'Neal stated that he understood the article to mean that he had been a 9th District Candidate for the National Democratic Party in the 2011 General Elections and had brought an action with his siblings against his niece for debt owed by her deceased father, part of which was for the maintenance of Dr. O'Neal's mother.
According to the court documents, Dr. O'Neal also understood the VINO article to mean that his niece had tried to settle the matter out of court, but he and his siblings had refused to do so.
Further, Dr. O'Neal in his claim stated that he understood VINO's article to mean that he was not a fit and proper person to be a candidate of the NDP for the 9th District.
Dr. O'Neal contended that the defendants in the claim also permitted the general public to publish derogatory comments in the 'blog' section of the article. Based on the claim, Dr. O'Neal contended that the comments were understood to mean that he was an unsuitable and unfit person to run for political office in the 9th District as a member of the NDP.
The claim noted that the comments could also be understood to mean that Dr. O'Neal is lacking in virtue and is not a honourable person, brought the court action against his niece because he is obsessed with material things, has dictatorship tendencies, is a nasty dirty pirate and is a person without compassion.
"In consequence the claimant's [Dr. O'Neal] reputation has been seriously damaged and he has suffered considerable distress and embarrassment," the court filing detailed.
Dr. O'Neal had submitted that that he intended to rely on a number of facts and matters to support a claim for exemplary damages.
Among the facts listed in the claim was that the defendants made no effort to ascertain the true facts of the matter by contacting Dr. O'Neal or one of his siblings, or in conducting a search at or speaking with a member of staff at the High Court Registry, but recklessly published the article for their financial gain.
Another statement submitted as fact in the claim was that the defendants, although becoming aware that the facts published in the article were incorrect, did not offer an apology to Dr. O'Neal or make any attempt to remove and disable the defamatory statements and comments section of the article, but instead continued to make the same accessible to the general public, thus allowing further defamatory comments to be posted about the claimant.
"The defendants made no effort to disable and/or remove the comments section of the article or publish an apology even after receiving a letter from the claimant's lawyers on December 21, 2011 complaining about the article," the claim had stated.
Dr. O'Neal is seeking damages for libel, cost and other further relief as the court may see just.