Home / View Point / War on Wired868: George Nicholas III threatens Mr Live Wire

War on Wired868: George Nicholas III threatens Mr Live Wire

The following is a series of exchanges between Wired868 CEO Lasana Liburd and attorney Lionel Luckhoo, on behalf of former Caribbean Airlines chairman George Nicholas III, with regards to a satirical news piece published on Wired868:

15 May 2013

To: Wired868 Ltd

Dear Sir/Madam,

(By Hand, Registered Post and by email)

Re: In the Matter of an intended Action Between George Nicholas III v Lasana Liburd Wired868 Ltd

I have been consulted by my client George Nicholas III, Executive Chairman of Mora Ven Holdings Limited and former Chairman of Caribbean Airlines Limited [“CAL”] with regard to material published by you.

I am instructed that on 14 May 2013, you published on your website at the following link: http://www.wired868.com/2013/05/14/by-george-ex-cal-chairman-has-a-flap-about-guardian-criticisms/ an article entitled “By George: Ex-CAL chairman has a flap about Guardian criticisms” [“the article”].

The article was purportedly written by “Mr. Live Wire” is at the time of writing available on the World Wide Web system of the Internet. A copy of the article as it appeared on-line is enclosed herewith.

The entire article read as a whole is defamatory of my client… [Entire article was reproduced with parts in bold]

The impression conveyed by the article amounts to a very serious libel on my client and has caused him considerable distress and embarrassment both personally and professionally.

Photo: Former CAL chairman George Nicholas III.
Photo: Former CAL chairman George Nicholas III.

The article would lead any reasonable reader to conclude that my client:

  • Is an amateur businessman with little or no experience;
  • Is partly or wholly responsible for CAL’s current problems;
  • Was unfit to Chair the board of CAL partly of wholly due to his background experience in assisting businesses in which his family had an interest;
  • Failed in the position of Chairman of the Board of CAL;
  • Mismanaged CAL and/ or misbehaved in the role of Chairman of CAL;
  • Is responsible for the CAL airline crash in Guyana and/ or mismanaged he aftermath of same;
  • Misrepresented in a lawsuit the financial condition of Mora Ven Holdings Limited.

At no time prior to the publication of the article was any attempt made to communicate with my client with regard to the contents of same.

For the avoidance of any possible doubt I am to make clear that my client takes the utmost exception to the imputation that his background experience in assisting businesses in which his family has an interest somehow disqualifies him from service as Chairman of CAL. Inquiry would have revealed that my client has not been an employee of any of the family businesses for some thirteen (13) years, nor does he currently sit on the boards of same.

The slightest inqury would have confirmed the fact that it was published in the press last month that the audited accounts of Mora Ven Holdings Limited showed profit before taxation of $5,854,615 as at December 31, 2012. Gross profit increased by 50% over 2011, 12% of which came from its renewable energy subsidiary Solaris (which is the largest regional energy company).

The publication of the article is all the more astounding to my client following as it does so soon after the publication in the Trinidad Guardian on 9 April 2013 of an article entitled, “Nicholas withdraws lawsuit against Rowley” wherein, among other things, it was stated:

“Former Caribbean Airlines (CAL) chairman George Nicholas yesterday withdrew a defamation lawsuit against Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley. During a hearing before Justice Judith Jones in the Port-of-Spain High Court, Nicholas’ attorneys agreed to drop the lawsuit after Rowley apologised to their client.

“In the apology, which was read in court, Rowley said: ‘In no way was I alleging that the claimant (Nicholas) is or was corrupt, unfit to manage, wasting and/or mismanaging public resources, that his actions warranted disdain of the people of T&T.’ Both Rowley and Nicholas were in court. The lawsuit was filed last year after a report of Rowley’s speech at the Febeau Open Bible Church on January 17 was published in a newspaper (not the T&T Guardian).

“Rowley’s speech dealt primarily with unsatisfactory governance of State enterprises and directly referred to Nicholas. Nicholas was appointed CAL chairman in November 2010 and resigned on 4 April 2012.”

My client similarly does not appreciate the article making flippant references to his family name, religious beliefs, or his preparedness to protect his good name by the institution of legal proceedings.

In the circumstances, and without prejudice to my client’s rights, my client requires from you as a matter of utmost urgency:

  1. That the said article be removed from the website forthwith.
  2. A retraction and apology in terms to be approved by myself, published on the website with similar or greater prominence in correction of the quoted statement and,

I have also advised my client that he is entitled to substantial compensation for the injury to his reputation and feelings, in which regard he invites you to make a proposals (sic) in this regard. I look forward to your confirmation by no later than the close of business today that you will comply with the above-mentioned requests.

If you do not comply with these reasonable requests or my client is not satisfied with your response to the said requests, I have been instructed to advise as to the way forward regarding initiating legal proceedings against the company, the editor and the author of the article (in which regard should you not comply with the above requests, I would request the correct full name and address for “Mr. Live Wire” or clarification as to whether same is the nom de plume of the editor and CEO Lasana Liburd).

Yours faithfully,

Lionel Michael Luckhoo

Attorney at Law

22 May 2013

Good Day from Wired868

Hello Mr Luckhoo,
I have received your correspondence; all four letters. I trust I did not miss any. I am usually never thrilled to collect anything in the mail box. It is usually just bills. Not yours though.
For the benefit of the environment, feel free to copy any further correspondence to this email address.
Photo: Wired868 CEO Lasana Liburd.
Photo: Wired868 CEO Lasana Liburd.
Yes, I did see that you gave me a 24-hour deadline to respond to your initial letter. That confused me somewhat as I am self-employed. Having established who gives the orders in my professional life, I opted against a response in line with your wishes. Not to be rude, mind you. It was a busy week and priorities had to be set.
I am not sure if I should count George Nicholas III or yourself or both as readers of Wired868.com. I would like to advise you that I plan to use your legal letter to me on the site. I think it would show everyone the quality of readers I get these days.
I have attached my response to you and that would also be posted online to show how we both worked out this difference of opinions.
Best wishes Mr Luckhoo and please convey my happy tidings to your client. Feel free to drop me a line whenever you like and I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.
Regards,
Lasana
Attached Letter to Lionel Luckhoo:

Dear Mr Luckhoo,

I refer to your letter regarding an article entitled “By George: Ex-CAL chairman has a flap about Guardian criticisms” and published on 14 May 2013 on Wired868.com.

http://www.wired868.com/2013/05/14/by-george-ex-cal-chairman-has-a-flap-about-guardian-criticisms/

You re-published the entire article in your letter save for the photo and bio of the author. The accompanying photo for “Mr Live Wire” depicts a pussycat with a rubix cube; and the bio states that the author “translates media reports.”

I believe that is the only thing that was not psycho-analysed in the offending article.

All the same, allow me to explain the relevance. This article is “satire” and does not invite readers to view it in the way they would a typical news article.

Your claims (on page two) with respect to the words used in the said article and what they would mean to “reasonable readers” are all wholly denied.

The article is clearly a commentary based on a Trinidad Express report published on 14 May 2013, which revealed an on-going libel suit between Trinidad Guardian columnist Maxie Cuffie and your client.

The satirical piece names its source and provides a link to the article commented on so as to allow readers—“reasonable” ones or otherwise—the option to read the straight news piece.

You claimed that my article depicts your client as: an amateur businessman with little or no experience.

The article says nothing of the sort. George Nicholas III apparently highlighted his tenure as Mora Ven Holdings chairman and the company’s success in 2012 and 2013 to suggest his suitability for the CAL post. You should know that your client was appointed CAL chairman in 2010. My comment on your client’s assertion is that it does not do his case any good; and, “if” that is his strongest case, then he was indeed unequal to the task and had no significant track record.

You claimed that my article depicts your client as: partly or wholly responsible for CAL’s current problems.

If George Nicholas III feels that way, he will not find that I validated such a gloomy outlook in this article.

You claimed that my article depicts your client as: unfit to chair the board of CAL partly or wholly due to his background experience in assisting businesses in which his family had an interest.

Again, there is no insinuation of such. What Wired868 did say is that Maxie Cuffie suggested, in the Trinidad Guardian, that your client’s most notable work was done with family-owned business. I neither endorsed nor disproved his statement.

You claimed that my article depicts your client as: a failure in the position of Chairman of CAL.

Not in my article, Sir. And do lighten up.

You claimed that my article depicts your client as: someone who mismanaged CAL and/or misbehaved in the role of CAL Chairman.

Sir, are you really referring to my story? Again, please re-read and lighten up.

You claimed that my article would lead readers to conclude that your client: is responsible for the CAL airline crash in Guyana and/or mismanaged the aftermath of same.

Hahahahahaha! Need I say more on that point? Sir, I would really love to meet your idea of a “reasonable reader.” Not for too long, mind you. Just to observe those persons using cutlery and stringing sentences together for a few minutes.

To be clear, no, Sir, I said that George Nicholas III did not justify why his crisis management was special enough to be used on his CV. I did not say that he flew the plane to Guyana and I did not say he sabotaged the flight either.

You claimed that my article led readers to conclude that your client: misrepresented in a lawsuit the financial condition of Mora Ven Holdings Limited.

Sir, I quoted the source of my information. I never claimed to have done an investigative study on Mora Ven Holdings and I qualified my reference to the company with the word “supposedly.” If possible, please relay to the board and staff at Mora Ven Holdings that I wish them only continuing success under their Executive Chairman.

And, again Sir, please lighten up.

I do not understand the relevance of a settlement between George Nicholas III and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley to our matter. Was that a warning shot across my bow? It sent chills up my spine; but then I adjusted the speed of my fan.

Sir, I must contend that the words used in the aforementioned article simply do not carry the connotations that you suggest. It is nothing more than fair comment on a subject matter that is of public interest and cannot be divorced from the tone of the column it appears in, which is satire.

Again, Sir, the photograph attached to the author is a pussycat with a rubix cube. Whatever did your “reasonable readers” make of that?

Photo: Put down the rubix and get your court clothes, Mr Live Wire.
Photo: Put down the rubix and get your court clothes, Mr Live Wire.

I ask that you note the learning out of Skuse v Granada Television Ltd. [1966] EMLR 278, 285-287 where Sir Thomas Bingham MR held that the court should give an article the natural and ordinary meaning it would have conveyed to the ordinary reasonable reader of the “Sunday Gleaner” reading the article once.

The ordinary reasonable reader is not naïve; he can read between the lines but he is not unduly suspicious. He is not avid for scandal. He would not select one bad meaning where other, non-defamatory meanings are available. The court must read the article as a whole, and eschew over-elaborate analysis and, also too literal an approach. (emphasis mine)

I do regret that the words used in the article have caused your client distress, embarrassment and hurt feelings. I, as the author, was merely expressing an opinion on a matter of public interest, which is George Nicholas III’s justification of his prior post as CAL Chairman and the fact that he felt it necessary to do so.

So, I do not accept your offer to “make a proposals (sic)” to your client let alone to offer “substantial compensation for the injury to his reputation and feelings.”

I do have a proposition of my own, though.

If George Nicholas III promises to point out where my article “would lead any reasonable reader to conclude that (he) is responsible for the CAL airline crash in Guyana”, then I will happily order him two scoops of ice cream in an effort to assuage his hurt feelings.

Yours respectfully,

Lasana Liburd

22 May 2013

Dear Sirs (sic)

Good day,

I acknowledge receipt of the (above) email and referenced attachment, which I take it was sent on behalf of both Wired868 Ltd and Lasana Liburd, as the editor/CEO of Wired868 Ltd and author of the article.

I note your views on “satire” and the understanding of an ordinary reasonable reader, but am unable to share same.

I am likewise unable to accept the following of your propositions:

1. That the “article is clearly a commentary based on a Trinidad Express report published on 14 May 2013, which revealed an on-going libel suit between Trinidad Guardian columnist Maxie Cuffie and your client”, and

2. That you have “quoted the source of my information”.

 

Your article references (disparagingly) the work my client did at a French orphanage in 1986, information that was not contained in the Trinidad Express article, but which said information was contained in the curriculum vitae of my client as disclosed by him to the Defendants in a defamation action he initiated against Maxie Cuffie, Debra Wanser, and Guardian Media Limited.

In that no permission was given for this document to be used for any other purpose than the said litigation, I would be grateful if you could clarify your source of information so that appropriate steps may be taken in that action.

In any event, if your article is not removed from the website by 9:00 am on 23 May 2013, I have instructions to proceed to apply to a court of competent jurisdiction for an Order accordingly.

Best regards,

Lionel Michael Luckhoo
Attorney at Law

22 May 2013

Dear Mr Luckhoo,

I did not expect to hear from you so quickly. I am flattered to think that I am a high priority for yourself and your client.

The fact that the story quoted an item which you now confirm was contained in George Nicholas III’s curriculum vitae does not mean the satirical piece was not based on the Trinidad Express newspaper article.

The story stated: “Nicholas also tried to prove his suitability for his prior post by revealing that he taught English to children at a French orphanage in 1986 and once worked with evangelists like Benny Hinn and TD Jakes.”

I fail to see anything disparaging about that reference. I am only filled with pride in George Nicholas III’s eclectic and humanitarian interests, as I am sure you are.

Photo: My former English teacher is suing who?
Photo: My former English teacher is suing who?

Whether or not those things make George Nicholas III the best candidate to run an airline might be another matter entirely. I accept that we might disagree on that point.

Now is that really something that should be adjudicated by a judge?

Are you suggesting that the reproduction of something you say is in your client’s curriculum vitae constitutes libel against him? Did you client libel himself in writing his own curriculum vitae?

You want me to reveal my source of information so “appropriate steps may be taken?” I respectfully decline your polite request. Would there be anything else?

And, no Mr Luckhoo, I will not remove a story from my website because you and/or your client do not like it. And I will not remove it because of the wild interpretations that you attached to the story.

I do appreciate the interest from yourself and George Nicholas III in Wired868. I try never to be rude to my readers when they offer feedback. So, thank you for your editorial advice. But, on this occasion, we disagree.

Perhaps you two would love my next piece.

Yours respectfully,

Lasana

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52 comments

  1. The truth always offends. But he has the money and clout so be cautious Lasana.

  2. Lasana Liburd a lawyer’s nightmare ??? I remember this like yesterday

  3. I never heard from them again.

  4. Lasana Liburd. What was your next piece? I would really love to see what it was.

  5. well played sir….. well played

  6. Better be careful. There might be a George Nicholas IV coming round to pay you a visit.

  7. I very much enjoy reading articles from wired868 and I’m very happy to see how will it’s defended. Great work!

  8. Really enjoyed reading this…so was this just dropped? Amazing how they try to bully with lawyers.

  9. wowser, i hadda come by you for some writing lessons Lasana Liburd.

  10. We didn’t see these articles when they were first posted last year. To say it was “a good read” would be enormous understatement my friend. When I read it, (and with Christmas in the air) I immediately thought of this exchange….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQkF7fpw-wI

  11. Great to see we have this type of audience man Ha Ha don’t stop let our voices be heard

  12. I’m very impressed and proud. This is the first time in many moons that I have experienced that there are Trinbagonians out there with EQ and IQ. Common sense and book sense. The news is so disappointing. “Ebola” so they run with “ban Carnival”; ruptured gas line and they run with “no electricity for Christmas”. They are so busy trying to make a dollar that they (journalists) do not try to uplift the society. Then I read Wired868 and there is someone who isn’t afraid to write intelligently and purposefully, with wit and bite when needed. Keep up the good work Mr. Liburd. And the day a silly person with money to burn tries to bully you, I for one have to problem contributing to that court bill. Almost sure I will get ALL my money back too. Cheers!

  13. keep on doing what the other media houses are afraid to do, god will protect you, cause he hates wickedness

  14. WHAT!!!!!!!! shut down which wired 868 eh, he must be mad or what eh, whatever rum he is drinking eh, he better change the brand. Them really good yes.

  15. Nah Christophe Brathwaite. Those are all the letters that I published there. In fact, once I published I never heard from them again.

  16. What was the final score? Did they follow through with the legal proceedings?

  17. 2.”A retraction and apology in terms to be approved by myself, published on the website with similar or greater prominence in correction of the quoted statement and,”
    Well that and a corruption free Government he will never see lol

  18. T&T lawyers 0 vs Wired868 2.
    keeper hardly had to work in this one.

  19. Must love wired868. So damn proud!!

  20. Lol. Nicholas didn’t know that receiving threatening letters was no new and scary thing for me.

  21. Liburd, who you sending a message to? A! A! I ended a sentence with a proposition. Sorry should be ‘preposition’. But no matter. This is satire. And it has nothing to do with an angry Maha Sabha executive either.

  22. lol, this piece was a very interesting read. I’m sure his lawyer was laughing

  23. Clearly, he did not know that you only have 868 readers!

  24. #dedments
    if only yuh had gone to law school eh?? LOL

  25. “They can’t keep a good man down…” Something fall in the man garden and cannot be dug out. When all you have is an image to uphold then any little thing will be deemed an affront and met with swift response. Doh study them Liburd and keep moving forward and strong by the grace of God. The pen is always mightier than the sword.

  26. I always look forward to your articles and fearless writing style…keep it up!!!

  27. I am deceased !! 😀 ………. sarcasm level : Lasana the great!

  28. After reading the above, I must admit that it took me a while to decide to which emotion I should give priority. The stark disappointment that follows the continuous attacks on our free press, or the beaming pride that David (Lasana) invokes by his continuously inspirational and professional approach. While the Goliaths of our social strata continue to subliminally suppress and oppress progressive thinking, and provocative debate, our media heroes continue to be a beacon to those of us who took the red pill.

  29. Goliath and his lawyer have my sympathy; they should get themselves a manager whose mandate is to sign them up only for matches they can win.
    keep up the good work, Lasana; the world is sitting up and taking notice.

  30. I must say that you make me proud to be counted amongst such esteemed persons who read your columns. You keep up the good work.

  31. Lasana, the strength of your character and intellect shines through in this series of exchanges. Stand firm and may good fortune be always with you.

  32. One thing that I am learning for sure is that Wired is very popular and widely read and Lasana is gaining some invaluable legal skills. Lasana who knows what the future holds, you may be invited to apply for judgeship 🙂

  33. I don’t know who to feel more sorry for: the thin skinned one or the idiot he pays to pretend not to understand how satire works.

  34. You’ve outdone yourself this time! The best satirical post yet. Clearly the ex-CEO of CAL is not toting feelings off of this article. This is a joke right??

    • Hello Fayola. This exchange of letters is actually very real. Lionel Luckhoo has sent me four hand-delivered bundles as well and his threat to go after the site really was issued. My responses were my actual replies to both sets of correspondence from him. I’m obviously not a lawyer. But I did my best 😉

  35. Someone read this story for me today since they believed I shouldn’t wait until I got home to read it..oh yes it ‘lightened up’ my evening! Looking forward to that next piece and Mr Live Wire deserves a pat on the head!

  36. I just re read the article twice and realised that the astute Lawyer’s letter is longer than the initial article posted. I must commend you on your class of readership. You certainly are attracting a wide readership. As a normal person reading the article, I garnered no ill will to the subject of the matter other that what it was a satirical commentary on the article. Also your response to the lawyers letter was well done, I loved your use of case records to defend your stance. Actually I would love for this matter to go to court, I would love to see how the article can be interpreted in any malicious or defamatory way. With the profit from Moraven you are assured that your lawyer bill will be paid when you win the matter.

  37. Money really cyar buy sense na!!

  38. LOL!! Liburd, you hold your own very nicely.