Wendall Jones Admits Involvement in Louis Bacon Smear Campaign
Jones Communications Limited CEO Wendall Jones has admitted to defaming billionaire hedge fund manager Louis Bacon through his newspaper, and has pledged to run a public apology after publishing articles that accused Bacon of drug trafficking, bribing government officials and involvement in an alleged plot to kill and cover up the death of an American employee.
The apology is part of the settlement in a defamation suit Bacon brought against Jones after The Bahama Journal printed in May, “a series of extremely defamatory articles about [Bacon], written by Mr. Earlin Williams”.
In a statement read before Supreme Court Justice Milton Evans on Thursday, Jones Communications Limited said it believes that it has “unwittingly been used by a person or persons who had an agenda against [Bacon]”.
“The defendant understands…that grossly defamatory and false claims have been published about [Bacon] in various different forms as well, including on anonymous attack websites,” according to the statement.
The document, signed by Jones’ attorney, Anthony McKinney, detailed the version of defamatory events from inception to resolution.
Bacon’s attorneys in the United Kingdom wrote to Jones Communications on May 23, claiming defamation and seeking an immediate retraction and apology.
Jones replied, according to the statement, that, ” a number of attorneys …advised that they are in possession of certain documentary evidence to support some of the articles”.
The reference to the attorneys was a reference to Nygard’s lawyers who introduced a private prosecution against Bacon on June 7, but withdrew it on June 25.
Bacon sued Jones on June 21.
“After the writ was issued, Mr. Jones spoke to Mr. Peter Nygard to find out if he had any evidence to support the claims made by Mr. Earlin Williams in the articles. Mr. Nygard told Mr. Jones that he wanted [Jones Communications] to find a way to defend the claims in order to force [Bacon] into court to give evidence,” the statement said.
“[Jones Communications] now accepts that the allegations in the articles are entirely false.”
Jones has agreed to publish the apology in The Bahama Journal and on the newspaper’s website.
“We express our regret and apologize to Mr. Louis Bacon and his family for any embarrassment or distress which may have been caused to them. We have taken steps to ensure that this does not happen in the future,” the apology will read, in part.
The statement also stated that Williams’ columnist’s privileges were revoked and others who assisted him in the articles’ publication have been “internally dealt with”.
Addressing the court, McKinney accepted that Jones Communications Limited had been “used as a conduit for a smear-campaign” against Bacon.
Jones was also ordered to pay $100 in damages.
Nassau Guardian Senior Reporter