Chief Magistrate demands Peeping Tom's identity
By Shawnel Cudjoe
August 28, 2003
Acting Chief Magistrate Juliet Holder-Allen has demanded that the identity of "Peeping Tom", a popular columnist in Kaieteur News, be revealed.
The Magistrate said yesterday that failing this she would be forced to summons the persons associated with the newspaper, namely the editor and the owner of Kaieteur News.
This demand was made after an article appeared in yesterday's edition (August 27) of the newspaper captioned "Sorry not me" for which the Magistrate "said there was no justification".
In open court, the Magistrate read parts of the Peeping Tom article that stated: "I feel that some Magistrates are sending people to remand simply to let them get a taste of jail. This I consider prejudicial and suggests that our court is not functioning the way that it ought to".
Another section of the article stated, "On one occasion a big fuss was made over a hearsay report that someone wanted to kill a certain Magistrate. The story was so comical and unbelievable that its outrageousness was matched only by the stupidity of some of those involved".
The Magistrate also read the Laws of Guyana book, "Summary Jurisdiction" (Procedure) Chapter 10:02 which states "at any time before or during the hearing of a complaint, the court may, in its discretion adjourn the hearing to a certain time and place to be then appointed and stated in the presence and hearing of the party or parties, or his or their respective Counsel or in the absence of the defendant, if it be proved to the satisfaction of the court that the defendant is unable to appear by reason of illness or any other unavoidable cause.
Vice President of the Bar Association Mr. Joseph Harmon and Senior Counsel Basil Williams both endorsed what the Magistrate said, noting that the identity of the writer should be revealed.
Williams noted that the concerns expressed by the Magistrate could be understood since the article shows callous disregard for her well being and she was within her rights to demand his identity.
According to Mrs. Holder-Allen, she knows the editor and owner of the newspaper to be "honourable men" and was therefore giving them a chance to make the right decision in withdrawing or backing up the statements made.
Editor in Chief of the newspaper, Mr. Nills Campbell, said the matter requires legal advice before any comments can be made. He also added that the Magistrate called him yesterday morning and they spoke.