ST GEORGE’S, Grenada -- An opposition party member at the centre of a libel lawsuit has said he is sorry for a public statement made a year ago linking two leading politicians of the New National Party (NNP) to the “Russian Mafia”.
Vincent Roberts, an executive member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), was sued after making the statement at a rally during last year’s general election campaign in Grenada.
The NDC, which had formed the government in 2008, lost the election 15 – 0 to the NNP led by Dr Keith Mitchell.
Roberts, a former NDC public relations officer who served as ICT advisor to former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, implicated Mitchell and senior NNP official, Gregory Bowen, in an alleged “Russian Mafia” deal.
As part of attempts at settling the lawsuit, Roberts published an apology in the Grenada weekly, New Today, acknowledging that “during the course of a political meeting of the National Democratic Congress held at the Roy St John Playing field in January 2013, I uttered words to the effect that the New National Party was promising to deliver Grenada to the Russian Mafia who substantially financed the NNP Campaign”.
However, said Roberts, “I now frankly and fully admit that the aforesaid statement alleging a relationship between the NNP and the Russian Mafia was offensive and defamatory of Dr Mitchell and Mr Bowen and that I had no factual basis for such a statement or allegation”.
As well, “I now unreservedly express my regret for having made such a statement and for any harm that I may have caused to the good name and reputation of Dr Mitchell and Mr Bowen and for any distress I may have caused to them personally and to their respective families,” Roberts added.
“Further, I now unreservedly apologise to both Dr Mitchell and Mr Bowen for same and I undertake not to repeat any such or similar allegations regarding Dr Mitchell and Mr Bowen or the NNP as a whole”.
Mitchell is now prime minister and Bowen is minister of communications, works and public utilities.
Roberts, a longtime NDC member, was elected recording secretary at the party’s February 2 convention, which also chose former finance minister Nazim Burke as new leader to replace Thomas.