Daxon Challenges Criminal Libel Constitutionality


Tribune Staff Reporter


A MOTION was filed in the Supreme Court yesterday challenging the constitutionality of criminal libel on the law books.

Maria Daxon, a former police constable and vocal defender for the rights of police officers, appeared before Magistrate Andrew Forbes last month for the expected start of her summary trial concerning two counts of intentional libel concerning alleged statements written about Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade and Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Leon Bethell.

Fred Smith, QC, who appeared on Daxon’s behalf, said he intended to file a motion in the Supreme Court challenging the intentional libel charge against his client.

As a result, the matter was adjourned to November 29.

According to the originating notice of motion filed in Supreme Court yesterday, Mr Smith and Maria Daxon are seeking relief from the court for a number of reasons, namely that the charge against the latter was a breach of her constitutional right to freedom of expression.

They also seek an order that Magistrate Forbes dismiss the criminal libel proceedings.

The motion also seeks relief for “an order of certiorari to quash the criminal libel proceedings as being unconstitutional, void, illegal and of no effect” and a further declaration that Section 315(2) of the Penal Code “provides offence of criminal intentional libel is unconstitutional.”

The applicants also seek legal costs from the proceedings and damages for having been unconstitutionally subjected to the aforementioned proceedings.

They ultimately seek “all such further orders, writs, relief, and/or directions as the court may consider appropriate for the purpose of securing the enforcement of the fundamental rights and freedoms to which Maria Daxon is entitled to under the Constitution.”

It is alleged that Daxon, between August 26 and August 30, 2016 wrote defamatory statements about Commissioner Greenslade and Senior ACP Bethell, which were likely “to injure and expose” the officers to “general hatred, contempt or ridicule.”

In her initial arraignment last September, Daxon elected to have the matter heard in Magistrate’s Court and pleaded not guilty to the allegations.

She was initially denied bail but a day later her lawyers Glendon Rolle and Wilver Deleveaux successfully applied for bail in the Supreme Court.

Daxon remains on $100 bail.

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