(TRINIDAD EXPRESS)- Calypsonian Weston “Cro Cro” Rawlins defamed businessman Inshan Ishmael in one of his songs, and has been ordered to pay $250,000 in damages.
The ruling was made in a judgment delivered today by Justice Frank Seepersad at the Waterfront Judicial Centre in Port of Spain.
Cro Cro was accused of defaming Ishmael on February 5, 2023, during an on-stage performance in which he sang a calypso titled “Another Sat is Outside Again” that allegedly named Ishmael.
At a hearing last December, Ishmael said there was no doubt in his mind that Rawlins had been “singing” about him in the calypso.
He claimed that the song, directly named, identified, and attacked him while encouraging others to attack him both verbally and physically and to financially abstain from patronising his businesses.
During the course of the proceeding Ishmael was cross-examined by Rawlins’ lead attorney Gilbert Peterson, SC.
Peterson suggested that his client was in no way singing about Ishmael but was instead generalising a situation.
Inshan Ishmaevehicles used bypolice unsuitable:
Inshan Ishmael…serviced vehicles for TTPS.
Ishmael claimed Rawlins had mentioned his name when he sang the calypso and spoke of people “in the Bamboo” who were selling stolen car parts.
Ishmael is the owner of a business that imports and resells foreign-used vehicles.
“As a result of the lyrics of the song the Claimant is now viewed as a criminal, a racist, and a thief,” attorney Richard Jaggasar had stated in the claim.
Rawlins also testified that he was singing of no one in particular but was simply pointing out some of the unlawful acts that were being committed by some business people in the country.
Rawlins denied he was singing about Ishmael. He also stated he had not given permission to anyone to record his performance and have it uploaded to social media.
However, in making the ruling today, Justicd Seepersad said “ Although there was no express prayer for exemplary damages, the evidence in this case has established that (Cro Cro) acted with cynical disregard to the Claimant’s right to have his reputation protected against a scathing attack.
(Cro Cro) had no empirical evidence which could have led him to form a genuine belief that the Claimant sold stolen car parts and it is possible to conclude that (Cro Cro’s) decision to attack the Claimant was motivated by a desire to teach the Claimant a lesson and by a belief that salacious and derogatory statements and the jab against the wider Indian community, would resonate with his fan base and possibly win him favour with calypso judges, who in the past, rewarded him with lucrative first prize purses for compositions which were less than complimentary to persons of East Indian origin or heritage.”
HIGH COURT JUDGE: Justice Frank Seepersad JRC
Seepersad also stated: “(Cro Cro) is no ordinary calypsonian. He is a former Calypso Monarch and his compositions have a significant impact upon many citizens. This Court is certain that the quantum of general damages awarded is insufficient to punish and reprimand (Cro Cro) for the abuse of his creative licence. (Cro Cro) and others like him who demonstrate the desire to use calypso to divide and denigrate citizens, must be deterred.”
Ishmael was awarded $215,000 in general and aggravated damages, and exemplary damages in the sum of $35,000.
Having reviewed all of the evidence, Seepersad stated, the Court held the view that the publication of the calypso was extensive and by no means fleeting.
” The Court also considered the full text of the calypso, the comments which catalysed it, as well as the positions adopted by (Cro Cro) after his performance. The Court further noted the aggravating factors such as (Cro Cro)’s failure to issue an apology, the malice which was reflected in the calypso, the pellucid desire to teach the Claimant a lesson, the various interviews which (Cro Cro) gave and his attempt to reap financial rewards by holding a concert shortly after the Claimant took issue with the calypso.”