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Jurors award $35-m in damages to Clunie

By PAUL HENRY Crime/Court Desk co-ordinator henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, March 29, 2012 | 5:38 AM    

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FORMER Deputy Commissioner of Police Owen Clunie was last night awarded $35 million in damages by a panel of jurors in his defamation lawsuit against his ex-boss and former police commissioner Francis Forbes.

A special jury of seven members deliberated for eight hours, from 11:00 am to minutes after seven last night, before returning a verdict in Clunie's favour in the Supreme Court.

An hour later the jurors went back to deliberating and returned at 9:00 with the $35 million for general and aggravated damages.

While Clunie was successful in his suit against his former boss and second defendant the attorney general, Clunie failed to win a verdict against third defendant CVM-TV, which got off on the defence of qualified privilege.

The case, which started on March 14, was brought by Clunie based on what he said were damaging statements made by Forbes against him in December 2002 and later on the CVM-TV programme Impact.

Clunie — who was a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force for close to four decades before his resignation in 2004 — said the statements have destroyed his reputation, causing him to be sidelined by the force and led to him resigning out of frustration.

The defendants have argued that the statements were qualified privilege and fair comment.

Last night, the jurors held, among other things, that the statements were calculated to damage Clunie.

There was no immediate talk of an appeal last night following the jurors' decision.

Clunie was represented by attorneys Alando Terrelonge, Audrey Reynolds and Kristina Exell, instructed by the law firm Bailey, Terrelonge, Allen.

Both Forbes and the attorney general were represented by Althea Jarrett and Harrington McDermott, from the Attorney General’s Chambers. CVM was represented by attorneys Charles and Wayne Piper.

The trial was presided over by Justice Jenifer Straw.

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