There are times however, when such libel or slander occurs unintentionally and with absolutely no desire to bring harm to the subject’s integrity and reputation.
The decision therefore of former St. Kitts and Nevis Minister of Government, Dwyer Astaphan to take somewhat urgent steps to resolve the matter between himself and Asot Michael of Antigua, (a current member of parliament of that country), was indeed the right one and the sensible approach to be adopted.
This however, does not mean that Michael, who is a well-known and sometimes controversial Antiguan politician, should not be questioned nor placed under the rough scrutiny of the media. Indeed, his actions and words ought to be carefully examined and monitored and whenever he runs afoul, this too should be shared with the public, whom he fights to represent in parliament in his country.
And in fact if he was travelling as an official member of a St. Kitts and Nevis Government delegation, as was suggested, then it is reasonable for the media and public to ask for an explanation; especially since others have claimed, that both Michael and the Prime minister have travelled overseas together before. For Michael to have been referred, wrongly so, as the Foreign Affairs Minister of Antigua & Barbuda, only helped to lead to speculations. Thankfully, as Michael himself has stated, the Indian media outlet has since retracted that erroneous mistake that must have caused the Antiguan Government to pay attention and ask their own questions.
However, what remains strange is the unanswered question, “Why did the India press think it was ok to designate him with the Foreign Affairs portfolio? Was it something that was said, written or in some way insinuated?
However, Astaphan, in a letter to Asot Michael stated that he had no intention to slander or impugn Michael’s character, with certain statements made in an article called “Busted in India”.
In his recent letter of apology, Astaphan told Michael, “You and I have known each other for many years, personally and in public life. I know that you are a very energetic, proactive and intellectually able elected representative of St. Peter’s Constituency in Antigua, and very popular with your constituents. And a key person in your Party in Antigua & Barbuda.”
He further hailed Michael as an energetic leader in Antigua in the cause of economic activity in the island and the sub-region.
In his letter, Astaphan also told Asot Michael, if any displeasure or discomfort was felt by him, as a result, he regrets the same.
Astaphan also advised Michael that he had requested media houses in St. Kitts, those that carried his Commentary, to have said contribution immediately retracted.
The article was published by various media houses in St. Kitts a few weeks ago in which Astaphan questioned Michael’s visit to India with St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Dr. Denzil Douglas, and which also triggered a series of questions from the general public, who have been demanding answers as to who funded the trip, including the expenses of Mr. Michael, who later made it very clear in a media release that he had covered his own expenses for the visit.
Michael threatened to lake legal action against Astaphan unless a public apology was provided within one week.
It is good that both Astaphan and Michael have made their peace. It is such resolution, more so than the option of a court battle, that helps to restore, (much more speedily) the good name and integrity of any offended victim of slander/libel.