Minister takes legal action against CMR

| 27/08/2019
Cayman News Service
Minister Dwayne Seymour

(CNS): Health Minister Dwayne Seymour, who represents the constituency of Bodden Town East, has filed a legal action against Cayman Marl Road and its owner, Sandra Hill, for libel over postings that do not actually name him. Although Seymour is alleging defamation, there are few details in the statement of claim, filed in the Grand Court on Friday. However, the minister refers to two stories and a podcast on the blog published earlier this month relating to what turned out to be a false allegation of child rape.

Both of the stories have since been removed as part of the legal process, but Hill has said that CMR has made no admissions and is unclear on what basis Seymour has asked for an injunction, given that he was never named or described in the specified posts in his legal action.

The stories allege that an 11-year-old boy was raped by a man in the district of Bodden Town earlier this year and efforts were being made to cover it up, with a serving, but unnamed, MLA paying off the family to buy their silence and to protect the alleged perpetrator.

Since the stories were published, however, the police have confirmed that no rape ever took place. Although a boy was referred to MASH by the hospital because a child safe-guarding issue had arisen, the boy had not been sexually assaulted and no complaint was made to the police that any assault had taken place.

In his brief claim, Seymour stated that he was seeking damages from Hill for libel regarding the stories she had posted and the live-stream podcast. But Seymour was not directly named or described in any of the actual posts on CMR and his claim did not indicate why he would suffer any form of defamation in those particular postings.

However, the spin-off comments on other social media, such as Facebook and WhatsApp, were more explicit about indicating who the MLA might be that was involved in what turned out to be an entirely false allegation.

Nevertheless, Hill has been adamant that CMR did not name the MLA or identify the constituency or district he was said to represent. She said her story merely alleged that a rape had taken place based on two sources in the community. She did not, however, state why she had relied on those sources.

Hill told CNS that it is Seymour who has made the assumption that people believe he was the alleged individual as a result of rumours swirling in the community around the false report.

The false story alleging that a child was raped by a man in the district and treated for physical medical conditions arising from the sexual assault has caused concern and challenges for the authorities. Given the child’s right to privacy concerning medical issues, it was very difficult for police to explain what actually happened that led to the child being in hospital, where the referral to MASH came from, and the reasons why the child was sent overseas for treatment.

The child’s medical condition has been confirmed as unrelated to a potential sexual assault. Since the CMR published the stories, the police have also opened an investigation into how the false allegation emerged and are also looking into a complaint made by the man who was named on social media as being the perpetrator of the false rape allegation.

This latest legal case is the second action filed against CMR in the last few weeks. Wealthy US businessman, and now Cayman resident, Blake Ducharme, has also sued Hill and her blog site over a story alleging that he had dodged a charge regarding an illegal gun.

That story was also brought into question when police confirmed that the gun they seized did not belong to Ducharme and was a licensed weapon belonging to a member of the crew which had brought his luxury boat to the Cayman Islands.

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Category: Business, Local News, Media

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