Minister of National Security and Belmopan Area Representative Hon. John Saldivar is suing Plus Television Managing Director Lewis Wade, and co-host of the Rise and Shine morning talk show Patrick Andrews for defamation and libel.
Wade and Andrews were served with the notice of the claim being filed in the Supreme Court last Friday. Wade maintains that the suit is a direct assault at freedom of speech.
He stressed that he would not succumb to what he believes are intimidation tactics by the minister.
The suit originates from a conversation on January 10, between Andrews and the Minister of Education the Hon. Patrick Farber
On that episode of the morning show, Farber asked Andrews for his opinion on a pro-poor initiative in which the Barrow administration gave $50,000 to each of it’s representatives to be distributed in their constituencies.
Andrews’ remarks prompted the Minister to send a letter in February threatening to initiate legal proceedings if certain demands were not met.
Those demands included an apology, the removal of Andrews from the show as well as court costs and compensation.
Wade explained that the minister also wanted an agreement that no such statements would be mentioned again.
Wade said that while he has no inherent objection to a retraction or an apology, the problem is that as a live morning, call-in talk show he cannot concede to the minister’s demand for them to not air similar content.
Wade also alleged that on more than one occasions the minister had approached him-prior to the suit-to urge him to remove Andrews from the morning show.
To that demand, Wade said that Plus Television is an independent media house and has every right to determine who their talk show hosts and journalists are; therefore, he found those request totally unacceptable.
Plus TV, a subsidiary of Shamax Productions, has been operating since 2010, and is the only national media house outside of Belize City.
According to the Constitution of Belize Section 12.-(l) Except with his own consent, a person shall not be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, freedom to communicate ideas and information without interference (whether the communication be to the public generally or to any person or class of persons) and freedom from interference with his correspondence.