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TTFA and DJW vs Wired868: T&T football president threatens suit over website articles

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams and the local football body itself have sent pre-action protocol letters to Wired868 in relation to three articles published on the website: “DJW hurdles AGM: TV cash vow mutes concern about Hart and TTFA’s secrecy culture”, “DJW vs Clayton Morris: Futsal squad and TTFA poised for unprecedented legal battle” and “TTFA goes Hart-less: John-Williams sacks Soca Warriors coach at Ruby Tuesdays.”

The following are excerpts of the legal correspondence from John-Williams and the TTFA as well as Wired868’s response through our special counsel and barrister, Dr Emir Crowne:

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams enjoys himself at new head coach Tom Saintfiet's maiden training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 15 December 2016. (Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams enjoys himself at new head coach Tom Saintfiet’s maiden training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 15 December 2016.
(Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)

Annand Misir, Attorney at Law, 22 Keate Streete, San Fernando:

I confirm that I represent the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association of the Hasley (sic) Crawford Stadium Port of Spain… My client instructs me that your online newspaper Wired868 has been carrying a series of articles in which you have published allegations relating to the alleged misuse of funds by my client…

The articles published have done severe damage to my clients’ (sic) reputation and credibility and has placed the character and integrity of the Executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (hereinafter called the TTFA) under severe scrutiny both nationally and internationally.

My instructions are that there is absolutely no truth whatsoever in respect of these allegations…

I wish to draw to your attention the following statements that were made in [“DJW hurdles AGM: TV cash vow mutes concern about Hart and TTFA’s secrecy culture”]:

  • “Since the football body’s last AGM, the John-Williams led organisation has used TTFA money for its leader’s unsuccessful Caribbean Football Union (CFU) presidential bid…”
  • “… mixed the business of his W Connection football club with the operations of the TTFA…”

As published your article (and in particular the issues highlighted above) suggests extreme corruption and misconduct both against my client and indeed particularly against those involved within the administration of the TTFA.

My unequivocal instructions are that the statements as listed above are all fallacious and vexatious and there is no truth whatsoever in the statements as published.

Photo: Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president Gordon Derrick (second from left) is sandwiched by TTFA president David John-Williams (second from right) and TTFA employee Sharon O'Brien (far left) before the CFU Under-17 final on 25 September 2016 at the Ato Boldon Stadium. John-Williams tried unsuccessfully to replace Derrick as CFU president on 23 July 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president Gordon Derrick (second from left) is sandwiched by TTFA president David John-Williams (second from right) and TTFA employee Sharon O’Brien (far left) before the CFU Under-17 final on 25 September 2016 at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
John-Williams tried unsuccessfully to replace Derrick as CFU president on 23 July 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

In direct response my client confirms the following:

  1. The TTFA confirms that no money held by, or due to, the TTFA was ever used for the purpose of funding the campaign of Mr David John-Williams when he contested the election for the for the post of president of the Caribbean Football Union as alleged and published in your said online newspaper article.
  2. The TTFA confirms that there has been no “mixing” of the business affairs of any private entity or otherwise with the operations of the TTFA, and specifically there is no connection whatsoever between the TTFA and the entity known as “W Connections (sic) Football Club” as alleged and published in your online newspaper article.
  3. In this regard my client is of the view that you (sic) article was deliberately deceptive and misleading.
  4. My client is deeply aggrieved that instead of simply contacting the TTFA to obtain the truth, you simply chose to fabricate and publish that material to supplement your online newspaper article.
[…] My client is of the view that your online newspaper acted maliciously and recklessly and by now by (sic) publishing these statements you have tarnished, defamed, and caused damage to the reputation of the TTFA, locally, regionally and internationally.

Moreover, these words are actionable without the need to prove special damage, in accordance with section 2 of the Libel and Defamation Act of Trinidad and Tobago. Chapter 11:16 (as amended) and section 2 of the Defamation Act 1952 of England and the republication in the article identified above is to the same effect.

[…] In light of the above, I hope that you will agree that your allegations about my client should never have been published. I am instructed to require you take the following steps as a matter of urgency:

  1. Publication of a full unconditional and prominent apology for and retraction of the serious and hurtful allegations complained of above. Once we have your agreement in principle, we will supply you with a draft for discussion.
  2. Your clear and express undertaking that there will be no repetition of those or any similar defamatory allegations concerning the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association.
  3. Disclosure of the names, addresses and other contact details of any person or persons having provided this fraudulent information to your reporter.
  4. Compensation by way of damages for damage done to the reputation and standing of the TTFA.
  5. Your agreement to pay our legal costs in full (including Counsel’s fees).
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (centre) is flanked by (from left) Tots and Tumblers gymnastics club owner Annette Telfer and attorneys Keith Scotland, Dr Emir Crowne and Reza Ramjohn at a press conference on 27 April 2016 at the Virtus Chambers in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (centre) is flanked by (from left) Tots and Tumblers gymnastics club owner Annette Telfer and attorneys Keith Scotland, Dr Emir Crowne and Reza Ramjohn at a press conference on 27 April 2016 at the Virtus Chambers in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Dr Emir Crowne, Crowne Sports Law, Special Counsel to Wired868 Ltd, Barrister, Attorney-at-Law and Trade-mark Agent,

Dear Mr Misir,

On 7 December 2016 I was retained as Special Counsel to Wired868 Ltd with respect to your pre-action protocol letter dated 30 November 2016 (receipt of which was confirmed in earlier email correspondence, and is hereby re-confirmed). Please find our response enclosed.

  1. The claim(s) of your client, the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association, as best as they can be ascertained are all rejected and denied.
  2. More specifically, my client denies that there is any actionable defamation in the limited excerpts you have highlighted. Namely:
  3. You have indicated that the excerpts suggest “extreme corruption and misconduct”. Irrespective of the false intensifier, it is unclear how the a-contextual excerpts suggest same. As to better understand the claim(s) being advanced further elucidation is welcome.
  4. My client also notes that the following articles substantiate the facts asserted, and/or comments made, in the limited excerpts you have highlighted: (a) http://wired868.com/2016/06/28/djw-allegedly-used-ttfa-funds-for-cfu-bid-accused-of-selling-out-caribbean/; (b) http://wired868.com/2016/07/08/we-dont-need-the-ttfa-board-djw-and-salazar-lift-the-lid-in-explosive-i95-5-interview/; and (c) http://wired868.com/2016/11/02/isaiah-wasnt-injured-coach-opens-up-on-u-20-players-controversial-caribbean-cup-exit/. The content of those articles is hereby incorporated by reference and will be relied up on, inter alia, in our defence to any claim(s) advanced. Furthermore, the content of those articles, inter alia, will be expressly relied upon to rebut your intrepid assertion that my client’s statements are “all fallacious and vexatious and there is no truth whatsoever”.
  5. Indeed, it is a trite observation that journalistic freedom is essential to any democracy. These esoteric litigious threats undermine the journalistic enterprise and journalistic privilege, on matters of significant public concern no less. To that end, my client advises that the publication on 27 November 2016—when taken as a whole and viewed in the appropriate context—is a fair commentary on matters of public interest and/or an instance of responsible journalism. Any claim to the contrary is classic censorship, and selective censorship at that.
  6. We trust that your client will re-consider any litigation, as the claims (as best as they can be deciphered) are thin and can be appropriately and vigorously defended if need be.

Please be governed accordingly.

Sincerely, and without prejudice,

Dr Emir Crowne,

BA, LLB, LLM, LLM, PhD, LEC

Special Counsel to Wired868 Ltd.,

Barrister, Attorney-at-Law and Trade-mark Agent

Photo: Guaya United co-coach Akeno Morgan (left) talks about the CNG 2015 National Super League KO final with Wired868 director Lasana Liburd. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Guaya United co-coach Akeno Morgan (left) talks about the CNG 2015 National Super League KO final with Wired868 director Lasana Liburd.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

 

Dayadai Harripaul, Attorney at Law, 22 Keate Streete, San Fernando:

[…] I confirm that I represent Mr David John-Williams, the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association of the Hasley (sic) Crawford Stadium Port of Spain.

My client instructs me that your online newspaper Wired868 has been carrying a series of articles in which you have published allegations relating to the alleged misuse of funds by my client among other things.

The articles published have done severe damage to my clients’ (sic) reputation and credibility and has placed the character and integrity of Mr David John Williams, both personally and as the President of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (hereinafter called the TTFA) under severe scrutiny both nationally and internationally.

My instructions are that there is absolutely no truth whatsoever in respect of these allegations…

I wish to draw to your attention the following statements that were made in [“DJW vs Clayton Morris: Futsal squad and TTFA poised for unprecedented legal battle”]:

  • “Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams has dared National Futsal Team head coach Clayton “JB” Morris to provide proof that he was ever appointed as coach by the local football body and to provide proof that he and his technical staff and player (sic) are owed anything from 11 months of national duty.”
  • “… John-Williams (sic) request for the instrument of appointment for the Futsal Association for instance could cut both ways…”
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Futsal Team Clayton Morris (left) has a laugh with Wired868 reporter Amiel Mohammed (centre) during an interview at the Maloney Indoor Sport Arena. (Courtesy: Chevaughn Christopher/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Futsal Team Clayton Morris (left) has a laugh with Wired868 reporter Amiel Mohammed (centre) during an interview at the Maloney Indoor Sport Arena.
(Courtesy: Chevaughn Christopher/CA-images/Wired868)

In direct response my client confirms the following:

  • My client David John-Williams confirms that he has never personally demanded any documentation as alleged and published in your said online newspaper article.
  • To make this point very clear the request for the documentation was a standard request for disclosure made on the instructions of the TTFA and not my client either in his personal capacity or as President of the TTFA.
  • In this regard my client is of the view that you (sic) article was deliberately deceptive and misleading.
  • My client is deeply aggrieved that instead of simply contact him (either personally or in his capacity as President of the TTFA) to obtain the truth you chose to fabricate material to supplement your online newspaper article…

I wish to draw to your attention the headline statement made in your said article: “TTFA goes Hart-less: John-Williams sacks Soca Warriors coach at Ruby Tuesdays.”

As published (sic) your article you have publicly stated that my client acted personally and alone in an arbitrary abuse of his power as the President of the TTFA, and your statement is clearly levelled against him on a personal level and particularly against him in his capacity as the President of the TTFA…

In direct response my client confirms the following:

  • My client Mr David John-Williams confirms that he did not personally make any decision to “sack” former men’s national team coach Stephen Hart.
Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart (left) and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams enjoy each other's company during a press conference at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain on 19 May 2016. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart (left) and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams enjoy each other’s company during a press conference at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain on 19 May 2016.
(Courtesy Wired868)
  • Stephen Hart was never “sacked” as stated in your article rather the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association and Stephen Hart agreed to part ways. My client is deeply aggrieved and (sic) instead of trying to obtain the truth you chose to fabricate material to supplement your online newspaper article.
[…] I wish to draw to your attention the following statements that were made in [“DJW hurdles AGM: TV cash vow mutes concern about Hart and TTFA’s secrecy culture”]:

(The rest is a replica of Annand Misir’s pre-action protocol letter issued on behalf of the TTFA)

Photo: Wired868 director Lasana Liburd (centre) and captain Leonson Lewis (right) conduct a post-mortem while Darin Lewis spies on the opposition during the 2016 Wired868 Football Festival. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Wired868 director Lasana Liburd (centre) and captain Leonson Lewis (right) conduct a post-mortem while Darin Lewis spies on the opposition during the 2016 Wired868 Football Festival.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Dr Emir Crowne, Crowne Sports Law, Special Counsel to Wired868 Ltd, Barrister, Attorney-at-Law and Trade-mark Agent,

Dear Ms Harripaul,

On 8 December 2016 I was retained as Special Counsel to Wired868 Ltd with respect to your pre- action protocol letter dated 28 November 2016 (receipt of which was confirmed in earlier email correspondence, and is hereby re-confirmed). Please find our response enclosed.

  • The claim(s) of your client, Mr David John Williams, as best as they can be ascertained, are all rejected and denied.
  • More specifically, you attached the Pre-Action Protocol for Claims for a Specified Sum of Money in Appendix A, yet no sum was specified. To that end, and in the absence of further particulars, I am unable to properly advise my client concerning same.
  • With respect to the various allegations of defamation, my client denies that there is any actionable defamation in the limited excerpts you have highlighted. Each will be addressed in turn.
  • 24 October 2016. You cite the following excerpts are being defamatory: “Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams has dared National Futsal Team head coach Clayton “JB” Morris to provide proof that he was ever appointed as coach by the local football body and to provide proof that he and his technical staff and player (sic) are owed anything from 11 months of national duty” and “… John-Williams (sic) request for the instrument of appointment for the Futsal Association for instance could cut both ways…
  • Your client then emphatically denies personally demanding such documentation, or as President of the TTFA. Yet, the very article in question indicates that it was the TTFA’s attorney, Mr Misir, who made the request. With the greatest of respect, we appear to be splitting hairs at the expense of the truth and journalistic freedom.
  • 24 November 2016. Somewhat surprisingly you only indicate that the headline is defamatory (“TTFA goes Hart-less: John-Williams sacks Soca Warriors coach at Ruby Tuesdays”). No issue is taken with the article’s content.
    The headline is consistent with the headlines of other newspapers in Trinidad & Tobago at the time. Namely:
    If your client genuinely believed that such headlines were, in fact, defamatory, there ought to be a multiplicity of proceedings against those journalistic outlets too. Otherwise, the claim is a bit suspect.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago newspaper headlines after the dismissal of National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago newspaper headlines after the dismissal of National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart.
  • 27 November 2016. You suggest that the following excerpts (limited as they are) are defamatory: “Since the football body’s last AGM, the John-Williams led organisation has used TTFA money for its leader’s unsuccessful Caribbean Football Union (CFU) presidential bid…” and … mixed the business of his W Connection football club with the operations of the TTFA…
  • You have indicated that the excerpts suggest “extreme corruption and misconduct”. Irrespective of the false intensifier, it is unclear how the a-contextual excerpts suggest same. As to better understand the claim(s) being advanced further elucidation is welcome.
  • My client also notes that the following articles substantiate the facts asserted, and/or comments
    made, in the limited excerpts you have highlighted: (a) http://wired868.com/2016/06/28/djw-allegedly-used-ttfa-funds-for-cfu-bid-accused-of-selling-out-caribbean/; (b) http://wired868.com/2016/07/08/we-dont-need-the-ttfa-board-djw-and-salazar-lift-the-lid-in-explosive-i95-5-interview/; and (c) http://wired868.com/2016/11/02/isaiah-wasnt-injured-coach-opens-up-on-u-20-players-controversial-caribbean-cup-exit/.
  • The content of those articles is hereby incorporated by reference and will be relied up on, inter alia, in our defence to any claim(s) advanced. Furthermore, the content of those articles, inter alia, will be expressly relied upon to rebut your intrepid assertion that my client’s statements are “all fallacious and vexatious and there is no truth whatsoever”.
  • Indeed, it is a trite observation that journalistic freedom is essential to any democracy. These esoteric litigious threats undermine the journalistic enterprise and journalistic privilege, on matters of significant public concern no less. To that end, my client advises that all of the impugned publications–when viewed in the appropriate context–are fair commentaries on matters of public interest and/or instances of responsible journalism. Any claims to the contrary is classic censorship, and selective censorship at that.
  • We trust that your client will re-consider any litigation, as the claims (as best as they can be deciphered) are thin and can be appropriately and vigorously defended if need be.
Photo: Wired868 managing director Lasana Liburd.
Photo: Wired868 managing director Lasana Liburd.

Please be governed accordingly.

Sincerely, and without prejudice,

Dr Emir Crowne,

BA, LLB, LLM, LLM, PhD, LEC

Special Counsel to Wired868 Ltd,

Barrister, Attorney-at-Law and Trade-mark Agent.

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88 comments

  1. Ahem cough cough “countersuit for pain and suffering” cough cough lol

  2. Hope de lawyer know he wokin’ fuh free too!

  3. “The claim(s) of your client, the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association, as best as they can be ascertained are all rejected and denied.”
    #DropsMic

  4. If I was you brother Lasana Liburd I would be careful because there are fellas on socawarriors.net that are wolves in sheeps clothing… especially one that is currently engaged in a war with me

  5. Accusations keep flowing back and forth…I have stopped reading them now…who to believe in anything in this country anymore. Social media gone mad..steeeeuuuppps. Who will eventually score the winning goal.

  6. my heart sunk when he won the presidency… that statement my hamper my progress in the football industry. .. but it is coming to pass why I felt that way!!!

  7. Wired 868. You gt bro. For our esteemed president to take time out of his busy scheduled to threaten you instead of channeling his energies towards our world cup qualification campaign. Hmmmm priorities eh.

  8. Anybody with J.W. initials should not be allowed around we football.

  9. Fight them brother.. the ttfa is corrupt and sell outs to our nation..

  10. ? 868’s lawyer tap them up and tell them wheel and come again but talk sense next time.

  11. Court clothes Lasana Liburd?’.. 2016 has been a very eventful year…

  12. Lasana keep doing your thing boss. ..good work as usual

  13. How he moving like the Donald so?? lol

  14. Double yawn…and a big steups ?

  15. So instead of concentrating all efforts behind the scenes (as he should) to get the team prepared for the WCQ he’s been able to allocate funds to pay a lawyer threaten a journalist??

  16. Lasana

    How you so lucky to get Christmas presents early, please thank the TTFA and the Prez for their kindness and consideration. I am sure you didn’t know they care soooooo much.

    Keep up the good work, you might get something for Valentines Day.

  17. Cause and effect ….. the resistance vs the empire …yuh bag ah spoil fish …… if we needed more proof about the kind of man you are you just gave us confirmation….. DJW

  18. Severe damage to his reputation? What reputation might that be?? The gloves are off and my bets are on lasana with this one.