Appliance Traders Ltd (ATL) Group Chairman Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart yesterday said he was “constrained to initiate legal action against The Gleaner Company” in the sum of $17.5 billion after the publication of a story on the newspaper’s website last Friday which he insisted was false and defamatory.
Following is a statement on the matter issued by Stewart:
The publication on The Gleaner’s website, dated Friday, March 11, 2016 at 5:21 pm, in which the Gleaner published a report under the name Barbara Gayle, justice co-ordinator, that the shares of businessman Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart in Gorstew had been frozen due to his failure to pay legal costs to the tune of J$40 million to one Noel Sloley is false and defamatory.
This publication was and is factually incorrect. The freezing order in question is in respect of costs claimed by Jamaica Tours Limited, which is the subject of ongoing litigation in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.
The publication, therefore, in The Gleaner is false, malicious and defamatory of Mr Stewart and has caused significant damage, not only to his reputation, but the companies which he represents.
This publication has had significant negative impact on the Sandals brand, which is the Caribbean’s leading global brand, and also the ATL brand, resulting in significant losses. The publication was made without any reference to or consultation with Mr Stewart or his representative(s) to verify the truthfulness or otherwise of the story.
In the circumstances, in defence of his reputation and the various companies in which he has an interest, Mr Stewart is constrained to initiate legal action against The Gleaner Company to protect his and the companies he represents reputation, and to seek damages in the region of some J$17.5 billion, approximately US$143 million, a conservative estimate.