A Cayman Islands Grand Court judge agreed Thursday to clarify the scope of an order prohibiting publication of a Jan. 16 newspaper story that made potentially libelous claims about a local attorney.
The ruling clears the way for use by the Cayman media of a number of other claims made in a Jan. 8 letter distributed to local press organizations by a Pakistani law firm purporting to represent the interests of former University College of the Cayman Islands President Hassan Syed.
The Cayman Compass has not reported the remaining contents of the letter from Ikram Law Associates.
James Austin-Smith, an attorney with Campbells law firm on Grand Cayman who formerly represented Syed, has said the Jan. 16 story in the Cayman Reporter is professionally defamatory and accuses him of committing criminal offenses.
The injunction against continuing to publish, republish or rebroadcast the story was continued until the next hearing in the case on Feb. 5.
In addition to being granted the injunction, Mr. Austin-Smith sued DCE Media Ltd., doing business as the Cayman Reporter, on Tuesday over the story titled “Violation of rights could result in unfair trial.”
Mr. Austin-Smith said he intends to press on with the lawsuit over the story. According to the brief writ, the attorney seeks damages for libel and a permanent injunction against the publication of the story.
In the story, the publication quoted from the letter that was sent earlier in the month to several Cayman media organizations – including the Compass – purporting to be from an attorney representing Syed. Syed is currently facing trial on charges relating to theft, obtaining a pecuniary advantage and obtaining orders by deception. He left this jurisdiction in 2008, claiming to be suffering from a severe illness. It was later revealed that Syed left after the release of a financial audit to the UCCI board in April 2008 that found “unsubstantiated financial transactions for the office of the president.”
Syed returned to the islands in May 2014 for a Grand Court appearance and was released on bail.
The accusations against Mr. Austin-Smith cannot be specifically reported due to legal concerns and because of the injunction issued Jan. 16 and continued Thursday by Grand Court Justice Ingrid Mangatal. The accusations referred generally to Mr. Austin-Smith’s actions during his representation of Syed in the criminal case. The Campbells attorney has since ceased to represent Syed.