Thema Williams’ legal team has warned Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) president Andy Gomez-Burke to hold his tongue on the ongoing court matter between the Trinidad and Tobago international gymnast and the sporting body, after remarks by the sport administrator on CNC3 and in the Trinidad Guardian newspaper earlier this month.
The warning was issued to Gomez-Burke, via the TTGF’s attorney Justin Junkere, on 13 December. Wired868 received a copy of the correspondence from a source close to the case.
In interviews in the Trinidad Guardian and CNC3 on 6 and 7 December respectively, Gomez-Burke, who replaced David Marquez at the helm of the TTGF in August 2016, suggested that Williams’ hurt—after she was controversially replaced by Marisa Dick for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games—was a matter for his predecessor and attempted to distance the local gymnastics body from the legal action.
Williams’ legal team, which includes Reza Ramjohn, Keith Scotland and Martin Daly, SC, suggested that Gomez-Burke’s comments were disingenuous since, under his presidency, the TTGF tried to block the gymnast from obtaining redress through the High Court and allegedly failed to adhere to court directives to disclose relevant documents.
At present, the TTGF, its former president David Marquez, first vice-president Akil Wattley, second vice-president Ricardo Lue Shue and his wife and assistant treasurer Donna Lue Shue face a lawsuit by Williams for maliciously “depriving [Williams] of the opportunity to qualify for the 2016 Olympics and/or by wrongfully […] promoting Marisa [Dick] at [her] expense.”
Williams’ legal team has asked the High Court for in excess of $11.3 million for damages. The High Court will conduct a pre-trial review on 30 January 2018.
(Letter to TTGF president Andy Gomez-Burke)
I write to you on behalf of my client, Thema Williams, in your capacity as President of the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation. I refer to statements you made in an interview with the Trinidad Guardian Newspaper, published on 6 December 2017 (“the Guardian interview”) and in a television interview with you, broadcasted on CNC3 on 7 December 2017 (“the CNC3 interview”).
By those statements, in your capacity [as] President of the Federation, you gave comments directly and/or indirectly related to the existing legal proceedings set out at caption between my client and the Federation—of which you are the President—and certain officials of the Federation.
In the course of the CNC3 interview, you referred to the “hurt” suffered by my client, but made the extraordinary statement that such hurt is “for my predecessor.” In the interviews you made other comments calculated to give the impression that the Federation might somehow not be impacted by the legal proceedings because of a change in its officials.
On my client’s behalf, I request that you desist from giving such comments or any comments while the legal proceedings are ongoing. The Federation’s attorney in the proceedings, in whose care we are sending you this letter, will no doubt advise you as to the legal position regarding comments on matters before the Court.
I am surprised that the media would permit you to make such comments without further investigation. By a copy of this letter we are informing Guardian Media Ltd and its two entities of the following:
- Liability for our client’s hurt is a matter for the Court. The Federation, of which you are the President, is a Defendant in the legal proceedings and remains liable to such rulings as the Court may make;
- Under your Presidency, the Federation attempted, unsuccessfully, to prevent my client from having her case heard in the High Court and sent to Arbitration instead;
- As a result of the failure at (2) above, there is an Order for Costs against the Federation;
- At the time of writing, the Federation is in breach of an Order if the Court to disclose specific documents and/or classes of documents.
I hope that it will not be necessary to engage in any further public discussion about the status of my client’s case because my client fully respects the authority of the Court and we look forward to your doing so as well by appropriate restraint.