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2005-05-25 23:40:26

PLP Shamed and Embarrassed Over CSME

Outspoken human rights activist 'approves' PLP use of OK hand signal art.

The Grand Bahama Human Rights Association yesterday said it won't apologize to the PLP for its alleged illegal use of the party's symbol in an advertisement and challenged PLP Chairman Raynard Rigby and Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell to make good on their threat to take legal action.

GBHRA President Frederick Smith, an attorney, said the GBRHA is more than prepared for a legal battle against the PLP, adding that Mr. Rigby, who is also an attorney, should have done research before threatening to take legal action because he would have found out that he has no basis to do so.

Mr. Rigby had threatened to sue the association for unlawfully using its "OK hand" symbol in full-page advertisements in The Freeport News and the other major newspapers in the country.

In the ad, which appeared on May 19, the GBHRA says, "Thank you PLP for having a referendum on CSME. We know you are a government of consultation, and will listen to the people."

The next day PLP Chairman Rigby, in a strongly-worded letter to The Nassau Guardian and Freeport News Publisher Charles Carter, condemned the ad, saying the PLP's "symbol of recognition" was used in an "unauthorized and illegal fashion."

"It is clear from the content of the ad that it did not originate from the PLP and that the PLP had no connection whether direct or (From Page 1)

indirect with the design and creation of the ad," Mr. Rigby said. "We therefore find it reprehensible that your newspaper would engage in the illegal and unlawful publication of such an ad and would find it appropriate to publish the ad with the PLP's symbol displayed on it."

Mr. Rigby, also an attorney, warned that the letter "serves as a formal notice to you that we expect and hereby demand an immediate retraction from your newspaper making it very clear that the PLP had not authorized or consented to the publication of the ad.

"We further expect and demand that you immediately desist and cease from all further and subsequent publication of similar ads whereby the PLP's symbol is violated. If the said retraction is not published in the newspaper by May 20, we will take all necessary and appropriate legal action against the newspaper without further notice."

On Monday, while on the popular ZNS talk show Immediate Response with host Darold Miller, Minister Mitchell condemned the ad, saying that it appears that the PLP had consented to it when the party did not.

Miller retorted, saying he felt it was clear that the ad was placed by the GBRHA and asked Minister Mitchell if the PLP would sue Mr. Smith.

Mr. Mitchell insisted that the party will take the necessary legal action. However, Mr. Smith said he isn't peeved by the threat of legal action, stating that the PLP's accusation of illegal use of its symbol is "utter nonsense."

"Our association has reviewed the Parliamentary Elections Act and there doesn't appear to be any lawful entitlement to ownership of any political party symbols other than at election time when the Parliamentary Registrar is authorized to assign a symbol to a political party for use in a general election," he said.

And in a letter addressed to Mr. Rigby, the GBHRA president tells the PLP chairman that he has "researched the Parliamentary Elections Act and refer you to Section 113(b) thereof which provides that the Minister may make regulations 'prescribing the symbols to be used on ballot papers.' The Parliamentary Elections (Symbols and Time Off) Regulations provides for prescribed symbols.

"For your education, please note section 3 which provides that within seven days after the public notice of elections, any party desirous of using a symbol shall apply in writing for the use thereof and the Parliamentary Registrar may assign a symbol to a party. The important words are that such an assigned symbol shall thereupon become the symbol for such party for such election. It appears to our association therefore that there is no ownership by the PLP of the OK hand signal."

Mr. Smith said if the PLP wishes to use the symbol, it must ensure that within seven days of public notice of the next general election the party must provide the Parliamentary Registrar with an application and if such symbol has not been requested by any other party or candidate it will be available to the PLP.

"Simply put," said Mr. Smith, "the PLP cannot for all time own an election symbol. I have also researched the Trade Names Act and the Trade Marks Act have noted that there has been no registration of your party's symbol in this respect. No doubt this is because neither of these two Acts lawfully permits your party from registering the same as their property for proprietorship of a mark in respect of manufacture of goods of name recognition in respect of a business."

Mr. Smith said since the PLP is neither a business owner nor manufacturer of goods, neither of these two statutes are available for the PLP to attempt to monopolize the OK hand signal.

"In any event, please do not be anxious," said the outspoken human rights activist. "Our human rights association will not seek to use the OK hand signal as our association's logo, although we are quite entitled to do so."

By NAVARDO SAUNDERS, Freeport News Reporter

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