Dr. Isaac Newton delivering keynote remarks to delegates at Invest Caribbean Now 2014 at the Harvard Club on June 4, 2014. (Sharon Bennett image)
By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. April 10, 2017: A US-based Caribbean Diaspora national is threatening to sue the prime minister of the island of Antigua & Barbuda for defamation.
Attorneys for Dr. Isaac Newton, an Antigua & Barbuda-born international management consultant, political adviser and President of Paramount Communications, say Antigua & Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, defamed their client in a March 20, 2017 press release.
In a letter sent to Browne on April 3rd, a copy of which was received by News Americas Now, the Antigua & Barbuda-based law office of Daniels, Phillips & Associates, say Browne defamed their client by calling Dr. Newton a “disgraced former UPP (United Progressive Party) ambassador.”
The Prime Minister’s name calling was in response to Dr. Newton’s critical analysis of Browne’s Parliamentary response to the U.S. State Department’s 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) annual report.
In the report, the US government called Antigua & Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) “among the most lax in the world” and said this “increases its susceptibility to money laundering and other financial crimes.”
The report also claimed Antigua & Barbuda is riddled with too many allegations of corruption and too few instances of bringing those alleged to justice and that two high officials in the current government are allegedly tied to the 8 million dollar bribery scandal associated with the Oderbrecht/Meinl Bank.
Browne has rebuffed the claim in the report and revealed in the country’s Parliament that the Government of Antigua & Barbuda had dispatched a strong rebuke to the US government on the assertions.
He responded angrily that the Report made wrong claims about the country’s achievements and that much had been done in transparency, safeguards, compliance with international standards, cooperation with various US agencies, and several levels of due diligence, to secure revenues for the CIP program, and to improve the nation’s image.
Browne also subsequently informed the Parliament that the US Embassy in Bridgetown had made it known to the government that the embassy would “discontinue doing due diligence” on applicants for Antigua and Barbuda’s CIP.
Many Antiguans, locally and overseas, including two of the country’s former prime ministers – one of whom is from Browne’s own party – essentially characterized Browne’s response as undiplomatic and said in essence that his tone and mood in the country’s Parliament did not reflect the public dignity that conscientious residents and citizens expect of their prime minister.
Among the critics was Atlanta-based Dr. Newton, who called Browne’s parliamentary response to the report, “crass.”
But Browne took major issue with the critical analysis, going as far as issuing a press release on the comments of Dr. Newton, a former political advisor during his election run in 2014.
In it he stated: “… we all have a duty to defend our country against unjust attacks. … Too bad that the short-sighted and disgraced former UPP Ambassador, Isaac Newton, saw my defense as crass. What was crass was his misconduct, during his short-lived career as a public servant, in which he was fired by former Prime Minister (Baldwin) Spencer, for certain wrongdoing.”
Dr. Newton’s attorneys’ said Browne’s words were published with the “intention and calculation” to “lower” their client “in the eyes of those who would read or listen to the words and poison their minds against the integrity, character and reputation” of the top consultant, author and Harvard, Princeton and Columbia graduate.
The letter sent to Browne also states that the prime minister’s words were meant to taint their client “with a most vicious, brazen and abominable smear of dishonesty, causing him ridicule and odium.”
Daniels, Phillips & Associates have given PM Browne until today, April 10th, to respond and to publish a letter containing a clear and unqualified retraction and apology in terms approved by their client.
They also want assurances from PM Browne in writing that the claims and statement made will not be repeated and for him to pay not just the costs incurred by Dr. Newton to date in defending his name but also “damages” for injuring his reputation.
Failure to do so would result in a lawsuit against Browne, the letter states.