Well-known St. John’s lawyer Bob Buckingham is suing the province’s Department of Justice and Public Safety, as well, as four cabinet ministers, for defamation.
Buckingham filed a statement of claim at Newfoundland Supreme Court Friday, naming the justice department, along with Justice Minister Andrew Parsons, Chris Mitchelmore, minister of tourism, culture, industry and innovation, Education Minister Dale Kirby and Service NL Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh, as defendants.
The statement of claim pleads that the cabinet ministers, in interviews with members of the media, rebroadcast and published defamatory comments, which were, “malicious and high-handed.”
The comments were allegedly made following government’s decision to make changes to the Legal Aid Act, which would remove a legal aid client’s option to choose a private practice lawyer. In particular, at issue is Parsons’ statement: “Buckingham is motivated by his own self interest and taxpayer dollars going into his pocket.”
The document states that Buckingham, “states the words contained an imputation which would lower the plaintiff’s reputation as a barrister and solicitor and as a participant in the public debate on the proposed changes to the Legal Aid Act in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally.
“The plaintiff pleads the words would also expose him to contempt, ridicule and that he was motivated by personal greed or gain.”
Buckingham claims the other ministers supported Parsons’ comments through various forms of media and social media.
The statement of claim pleads for damages for defamation in the amount of $5 million and $2.5 million for punitive and aggravated damages.
Buckingham declined comments other than to state, “the statement of claim speaks for itself and the matter will be determined in the normal course of litigation.”