Trinidad and Tobago
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Ex-UTT president sues ex-professor for defamation

Jada Loutoo Former UTT president Sarim Al-Zubaidy
Former UTT president Sarim Al-Zubaidy

FORMER president of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) Sarim Al-Zubaidy has sued one of the university’s former professors for defamation by sending false and malicious e-mails to the chairman of the board of governors and two others.

Al-Zubaidy and former UTT professor of environmental studies Valerie Stoute testified at a virtual trial before Justice Ricky Rahim, who has reserved his ruling.

Al-Zubaidy, who resigned from UTT in 2020, maintains that Stoute sent the defamatory e-mail to Prof Kenneth Julien, chairman of the UTT board of governors, deputy chairman Prof Clement Imbert and Ulric McNicol, a board member.

He said the words in the e-mail of March 28, 2019, which not only questioned his qualifications but also accused him of certain acts, were capable of being forwarded to the entire board, staff and anyone outside the university for circulation.

In his claim, Al-Zubaidy insisted his character and reputation had been injured by the contents of the e-mail.

In her defence, Stoute maintained the statements she made in the e-mail were true and could be verified.

In his testimony, Al-Zubaidy said while he had no evidence the e-mails were sent to anyone other than the three, he had heard rumours that it was forwarded to people at the university and outside.

Stoute’s attorney Richard Jaggasar questioned him about several research papers and journal publications as well as his work permit.

In her testimony, Stoute, in response to questions from Al-Zubaidy’s attorney Rhea Sookhai, denied she wrote the e-mail with spite or malice, but said it was out of concern.

“Why would I have malice against Mr Al-Zubaidy?”