On September 2, 2015, the article written by Moncrief-Scott was published on Mondaq’s website. The article made unsubstantiated allegations against Browne, and Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin. It also asserted that the government sells passports under its Citizenship by Investment Programme and also contained fabrications and false allegations against the attorney general, claiming that he was involved in, accused and charged in relation to a passport fraud matter.
“Ian Moncrief-Scott has no integrity or credibility whatsoever. He is affiliated to a landowner in Antigua who has had an outstanding land matter with the last three Governments. Moncrief-Scott has used a variety of media on the Internet to vilify the respective prime ministers, finance ministers and attorneys-general in an attempt to intimidate or blackmail the government. It is unfortunate that your Internet website has given considerable and sustained exposure to Moncrief-Scott’s false and malicious writings,” Astaphan’s letter stated.
Astaphan further stated that the allegations against the prime minister and attorney general are premised on misrepresentations and fabrications, and are scandalous and malicious. He said that additionally, they are gravely defamatory to the prime minister and the attorney general in their personal and official capacities.
“The allegations also constitute a nakedly false attack against the CIP and State of Antigua and Barbuda and are nothing short of expressions of hate in furtherance of some malicious campaign on the part of Moncrief-Scott. Nevertheless, the article by Moncrief-Scott, was manifestly calculated to cause, and has and will cause considerable harm to the prime minister and attorney general. This article will also cause considerable harm and damage to the CIP and the state of Antigua and Barbuda,” Astaphan’s letter read.
Astaphan advised Aspinwall that Mondaq has a very wide audience worldwide, that the article has been given very wide publication and reach and was published on Mondaq’s company’s website without any inquiry of them.
He stated that since the publication on Mondaq several persons and authorities around the world have informed the prime minister of this article. Copies of the article were downloaded and sent to him. Many of the persons have expressed alarm, anxiety and deep concern to him and various other representatives including ambassadors of the government of Antigua and Barbuda. This, Astaphan said, is an unacceptable state of affairs to the prime minister, the attorney general and the government.
“In all of the circumstances my clients instruct that I demand the immediate retraction of the said article and its removal from your website. They further demand the publication of this letter on all publications and Internet websites under your control in which Moncrief-Scott’s false and malicious article was published, republished or circulated,” Astaphan said in his letter.
“I look forward to confirmation of your receipt of this letter and your compliance with my clients’ requests, failing which appropriate action will be instituted. In the meantime, my clients reserve their rights in this matter including the right to compensation and costs,” Astaphan concluded.