By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune News Editor
A SUPREME Court judge has varied the terms of an injunction involving Free National Movement leaders after finding that Richard Johnson failed to disclose how his allegedly “bad behaviour” prompted the FNM’s executive committee to exclude him from future meetings.
Mr Johnson, the vice chairman of the FNM, is seeking $500k in damages after FNM executives unanimously barred him from council meetings.
On March 8, Justice Deborah Fraser ordered an injunction preventing FNM leader Michael Pintard and chairman Dr Duane Sands from barring him from council meetings until she has addressed the substantive matter.
To get the injunction set aside, the defendants filed affidavits from Sherman Stevens, a meritorious council member, and Don Saunders, the deputy chairman of the FNM.
Mr Stevens alleged that during a March 16, 2022 meeting, he heard “loud outbursts with expletives” from Mr Johnson. He said members became fearful and reluctant to attend meetings because of Mr Johnson’s allegedly “abusive behaviour and the potential consequences of such members in attendance becoming targets” of his “social media tirades.”
He said Mr Johnson’s allegedly “loud and belligerent” behaviour went on for months and disrupted the FNM’s business.
Likewise, Mr Saunders alleged that Mr Johnson’s behaviour prompted “serious complaints and was the subject of disciplinary proceedings”.
Ultimately, Justice Fraser accepted the defendants’ view that there had not been full and frank disclosure from Mr Johnson in the matter.
She wrote: “Though Mr Johnson did exhibit the Statement of Charges (which contained all allegations made against him) to his affidavit filed herein on March 8, 2023, at the time of the ex-parte injunction application, the extent and severity of Mr Johnson’s purported behaviour was not brought to the court’s attention until this application (by virtue of the evidence provided in the affidavit of Sherman Stevens and the affidavit of Donald L Saunders). Furthermore, this evidence has not been challenged or contested by Mr Johnson. It appears his conduct precipitated the executive committee’s and the central council’s decisions.
“In the court’s view, this was not an innocent non-disclosure. Being aware of the charges levied against him, the body of Mr Johnson’s affidavit ought to have apprised the court of, or at the very least explained, his actions/purported behaviour which gave rise to the executive committee’s decision to exclude him from future meetings. The court finds such information to be material facts which Mr Johnson did not provide prior to the granting of the injunction.”
In varying the injunction, Justice Fraser ordered that Mr Johnson remain the FNM’s vice chairman but not exercise his powers and duties under the FNM constitution until the court rules on the substantive matter.
While she affirmed that the FNM could not bar Mr Johnson from attending meetings, she restrained him from “formal participation” during the sessions.
She restrained the defendants from empanelling a disciplinary tribunal concerning Mr Johnson actions until she addressed the substantive case.
“As the matter is sensitive, and of public interest, the court is prepared to give early trial dates and further directions in preparation for trial once the parties agree on the terms for such directions,” she wrote.