“Raphel, good afternoon. I need to speak with you urgently re: Jonny Welshman, who sought my services. In your interest and that of your family’s I think this matter should be settled quickly and discreetly.” – Jaya Manickchand
Attorney sought settlement from Trotman, before denying representing accuser – court papers
Although attorney Jaya Manickchand has denied representing Johnny Antony Welshman, the man who has made abuse allegations against Speaker Raphael Trotman, court filings show that she sent text messages lobbying for a settlement on his behalf.
The four text messages have been labelled as an exhibit in legal proceedings filed on Monday by attorney Nigel Hughes on behalf of Trotman, who has secured an injunction against Welshman, barring him from publishing any material relating to the allegations in the print or electronic media.
Trotman, who has denied the allegations, is seeking damages in excess of $50 million for libel contained in statements made by Welshman and published in the Stabroek News, Guyana Times and on Welshman’s Facebook page.
In his Ex Parte Affidavit in support of his application for the injunction, Trotman says he feared that various elements in the political arena are attempting to smear his name and threaten him in an attempt to impact upon the discharge of his responsibilities as Speaker.
According to the affidavit, on September 19 Trotman received several texts from Manickchand, who informed him that she had been contacted by Welshman and that there was a matter that should be settled quickly in the interest of his family.
According to the exhibit, the first message was sent at 5:27 pm last Friday.
It reads, “Raphel, good afternoon. I need to speak with you urgently re: Jonny Welshman, who sought my services. In your interest and that of your family’s I think this matter should be settled quickly and discreetly.”
The second message, which was sent two minutes later, said, “If a settlement cannot be reached I will recuse myself from the matter… I think that you have young daughters who need protection from a mean press and you have your reputation at stake.”
Stabroek News called the number from where the text messages originated and Manickchand answered. However, she declined to comment. “I don’t have a comment on the matter madam,” she said.
Manickchand, who is sister of Education Minister Priya Manickchand, had previously served as a nominee of the ruling party on the Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom).
Welshman had told Stabroek News that Manickchand was representing him but on Sunday, shortly after both Trotman and his party the Alliance For Change had sent out separate statements condemning the allegations being made, she said she had not been retained by him.
Manickchand, who had refused to comment on the issue when initially contacted, had subsequently explained that Welshman had approached her office on Friday last while she was out and she later contacted him via telephone and he made certain allegations.
She said she advised him to approach the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) since she was not the person from whom to seek legal advice. She acknowledged that she had spoken to him on more than one occasion between Friday and Saturday but made it clear that she had not been retained by him.
According to the affidavit, after receiving the texts from Manickchand, Trotman called her and denied the allegations and also advised that the man should report the matter to the police. Further, the document said, Trotman was not prepared to enter into any discussion about a settlement for something that he did not do. It was thereafter that Trotman immediately contacted his attorney, who conducted a search on Facebook for the defendant’s page. As a result of what was discovered, he said he immediately became concerned that Welshman was part of an orchestrated political smear campaign intended to discredit him by publishing an interview with him on NCN, “a known government news agency.”
Trotman’s party, the AFC, yesterday said it was evident from the text messages that Manickchand acted extensively on behalf of Welshman and was deeply involved in representing his interests.
“The AFC calls on Ms Manickchand, a former PPP nominated Gecom commissioner, to frankly admit her full role. The party believes that any attempt whether by Ms Manickchand, her representatives or agents or anyone else, to create a public impression that she has not been acting on behalf of Mr Welshman would be disingenuous, wicked and false,” it said in a statement.
It also reiterated its position that they were party to a plot to entrap Trotman in an attempt to derail the impending no-confidence motion before the National Assembly.
“Once again the AFC condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the reprehensible exploitation of such a heinous crime against minors, for political purposes and calls on Ms Manickchand to fully acknowledge her role in acting on behalf of Mr Welshman in this process…,” it added.
In the affidavit, Trotman admitted that he had been familiar with Welshman for several years as he is the son of one of his friends, Johnny Welshman senior.
He also recounted that on August 13, 2014, while at his office at the firm of Chapman and Trotman, his secretary informed him that a man named “Johnny Welshman” was outside to see him. He subsequently met the man, who introduced himself as the man’s son and said that he needed reference. Trotman said that given his general nature, he did provide the reference.
Trotman added that Welshman subsequently appeared at his chambers and said that he had applied for a job at a city hotel and that he needed Trotman to call and put in a good word for him. However, Trotman said he indicated that he was unable to assist in this regard.
He said later, on or about September 8, while he was out of the jurisdiction, he received an email from his office informing him that Welshman had appeared accompanied by a police officer and was attempting to serve process on his father who he could not locate. Trotman, the affidavit said, instructed his staff not to accept service of any documents for Welshman’s father. It was subsequent to this that he received the text messages from Manickchand about a settlement.
The court has granted an order directing Welshman to forthwith remove from his Facebook page all material and publications relating and or referring to the plaintiff in relation to the issue of sexual assault. A check of Welshman’s Facebook page revealed that he himself had removed all posts relating to the issue.