The premier, who is also an attorney at law, has demanded a public apology from Bush and a retraction of the conspiracy allegations, which he has categorically refuted. McLaughlin’s lawyers have also issued a warning to local media not to repeat the allegations made by Bush, otherwise they too could be sucked into the legal battle.
A private member’s motion, which has been tabled in the Legislative Assembly and accepted by the speaker, calling for an independent public enquiry into an alleged conspiracy to oust Bush from office is defamatory, McLaughlin’s lawyers have said.
A letter has reportedly been sent to Bush giving him until May 1 to respond and demanding a retraction of the allegations made in the motion and that the apology be published in the press.
The premier has categorically denied the allegations and publicly called Bush a liar, challenging him to produce evidence to back up his accusations. However, Bush has said he wants to produce the documents he claims to have relating to the alleged conspiracy on the floor of the Legislative Assembly.
The parliamentary privilege covering debates in the LA would give Bush protection from any legal action. But McLaughlin says that by delivering up the content of his motion to the press in the committee room of the LA during a media conference last week, he had no such protection. Bush read out the contents of the motion and handed it to all of the local media outlets before answering questions about his claims and what he believed happened in connection with a criminal case against him.
In the letter to the press, McLaughlin’s lawyers Hampson and Company said that the content of Bush’s motion is “wholly false and unfounded”. Because it is presented as fact, McLaughlin believes the allegations are “very serious and highly damaging” as Bush has implied that McLaughlin was involved in a plot involving the coercive powers of the state to boot him from office.
The lawyers said they have consulted with “highly experienced” lawyers in the UK, who advised that the words used by Bush are defamatory and actionable.
“We have advised Mr McLaughlin that it follows that any re-publication or repetition of Mr Bush’s defamatory allegations by the media would in our opinion be actionable by him against the party responsible for that re-publication,” they wrote in the letter to all local media houses.