‘This is not politics’

BUSINESSMAN Othneil Lawrence has declared that there is nothing political behind his decision to file a defamation suit against People’s National Party (PNP) General Secretary Dr Dayton Campbell.

Lawyers representing Lawrence filed the suit after getting no response to a call on Campbell to pay $15 million in damages and $250,000 to cover legal costs for alleged defamatory comments he made at a political meeting in July.

The two men have clashed on the political battleground before in St Ann North Western with Campbell defeating Lawrence, who ran on a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) ticket in the 2011 and 2016 general elections. Lawrence had held the seat for the JLP from 2007-2011.

But on Thursday Lawrence told the Jamaica Observer that claims that his decision to take legal action against Campbell is payback for the defeat, which ended his time in representational politics, are unfounded.

“To those concerned about the lawsuit, let me be clear, it is nothing political, but to protect my name, business, and family,” said Lawrence.

He told the Observer that he has shared a cordial relationship with supporters and representatives of the PNP over the years even when he was in representational politics.

“Unfortunately, utterances were made about me, even in my absence from representational politics. In the past, reckless statements affected my business and family and I had to seek the intervention of the contractor general to clarify assets owned by me in the past.

“This has caused me sleepless nights and also loss of businesses in the past. My action taken now is without malice, but when one’s name is mentioned negatively, it’s one’s God-given right to seek justice regardless of one’s party, position, or religion,” said Lawrence. “My action is solely to protect my integrity, family, and business, knowing also I have a son who shares my name. The goodwill that I have earned over the years through operating one of the largest financial institutions on the north coast with five locations in the parish of St Ann can’t be taken lightly.

“These businesses have been in partnership with national and international stakeholders for the past 27 years,” added Lawrence.

He said based on the allegations by Campbell, he had no other choice but to allow justice to take its course because if these claims are not addressed the goodwill of his business could crumble.

“Please note that my integrity, family, and business are bigger than any money, position, or party, and therefore, I seek to clarify certain remarks made recently.

“What I have earned in life is always transparent and allows me to do business with reputable organisations. My accomplishments either in politics or business are derived from sweat, tears, hard work, and the fear and favour of God,” declared Lawrence, who is one of three people who have filed lawsuits against Campbell over his comments he made during a PNP meeting in Clarendon on July 27.

JLP bigwigs, Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport Daryl Vaz and Member of Parliament for St Thomas Western James Robertson, have also filed defamation claims against Campbell.

All three argued that Campbell’s comments were “false, malicious and defamatory”.