The mother of a seven-year-old girl who was photographed with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley during this year’s Carnival celebrations has signalled her intention to sue radio talk show host Barrington “Skippy” Thomas over the allegedly defamatory posts he attached to the photo on social media.
In a pre-action letter sent to Thomas on Tuesday, attorney Jennifer Farah-Tull, who is representing the woman who cannot be named to protect the identity of her daughter, claimed Thomas’ statements, made on his Facebook profile, were vacuous, scandalous and misleading.
“(name withheld) states categorically and emphatically that her daughter does not flirt with adult men nor does she encourage her to do so. She vehemently denies any and all allegations and/or innuendo of such behaviour,” Farah-Tull said.
Farah-Tull claimed the post caused distress and embarrassment to the child and her mother, who operates a daycare centre in her community.
“The nature of (name withheld)’s position requires the highest degree of trust and confidence in her ability to carry out her duties when caring for children, which if hindered, will lower her ability to adequately and efficiently perform and serve her clients and/or customers,” she said.
“Any attempt to blemish and defame her good name and reputation puts her entire career into disrepute and severe jeopardy,” she added.
In the letter, Farah-Tull said Thomas should have known that his post would have reached a large audience via social media and could have been reported in the traditional media, as it eventually was.
“You ought to have anticipated that there was a significant risk that what you said would be repeated given the fact that you are a well-known public figure as a political activist and radio talk show host on Power 102 FM and based on the fact that your post and the events that followed went viral, considering that the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago was made the subject of your ridicule,” she said.
Farah-Hull also contended that the publication was made without seeking permission from the child’s mother to use her image.
“The right to one’s image is an element of the right to privacy and same was infringed by your reckless actions which have now left the child vulnerable to sexual grooming by sexual predators and paedophiles,” she said.
Farah-Tull suggested that the dispute could be resolved by Thomas if he agrees to issue a retraction and a public apology, pay adequate compensation and undertake to not repeat the defamation.
Thomas was given until March 24 to respond before the woman files the lawsuit.
The contentious photograph was taken on Carnival Tuesday in Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra’s 2020 presentation, Fleets In A Middle Eastern Adventure. Rowley was a masquerader, while the woman and her child are members of the steelband.
The woman and her daughter are also being represented by Farai Hove-Masaisai.