High Court Judge Navindra Singh, has ordered former cultural adviser Ruel Johnson to pay $5M in damages along with other costs by January 7 next year to former Bishops High School teacher Coen Jackson for defaming his character in several statements that Johnson made on his Facebook page.
Back in 2017, Johnson launched a relentless campaign against Jackson on Facebook, making several accusations against the teacher and accusing him of grooming his students.
A police investigation was launched and charges were filed against the teacher. He was released on bail and the matter is still before the Courts.
But even after charges were filed and the matter was taken before the Courts, Ruel Johnson continued his Facebook campaign against the teacher with several unsubstantiated claims of sexual misconduct. The teacher decided to file a defamation suit against Johnson who was at the time, serving as a cultural advisor to the government and was sitting as a member of the board of the Guyana Chronicle.
In a written judgment which was handed down today, Justice Singh found that the statements made by Johnson were clearly defamatory of the Claimant and were intended to lower his standing in society in the estimation of right-thinking members of society.
The Court also found that the nature of the libel was bound to cause distress, hurt, and humiliation to Jackson.
According to Justice Singh, Johnson repeated the statements knowing that he had no evidence to justify them and admitted that in Court.
As a result, the Court awarded the sum of $5M as damages for defamation to Jackson. The Court awarded interest on the said award at the rate of 6% per annum from March 5th 2019 to November 19th 2021 and 4% per annum thereafter until fully paid.
Johnson was also ordered to pay $1M in costs to Jackson and all of the payments are expected to be made by January 2022.