20 October, 2020

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The Inside Story: Sri Lankan Court Orders Frederica Jansz To Pay Rs 1 M To Ladduwahetty

A Colombo District Judge, Amal Ranaraja, has ordered former Editor of The Sunday Leader, Frederica Jansz to pay Rs 1 million to President’s Counsel, Nalin Ladduwahetty, for allegedly having defamed him in four articles published by The Sunday Leader.

The case was heard and concluded with no legal representation for Jansz following her being sacked as Editor-in-Chief of The Sunday Leader after the government used a political stooge to purchase the newspaper.  Jansz is currently in exile and could not be reached for comment.

However Colombo Telegraph did send Jansz an email asking her:  What is your response to the court decision?, Is it correct that President’s Counsel Nigel Hatch initially represented you?,Did Hatch subsequently withdraw from the case because The Sunday Leader refused to meet his legal fees? Jansz so far has failed to respond.

Following Jansz’ removal from the newspaper in September last year, The Sunday Leader published a front page apology to Nalin Laduwahetty for four articles published in the newspaper during Jansz’ tenure.

The articles published at the time in February 2011, reported that seventeen senior prefects including the Head Prefect of St. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia were asked to leave, by the then Warden Rev. John Charles Puddefoot, after they were found to have assaulted nine junior prefects.

The Sunday Leader initially broke a story that one student, a spin bowler for the St Thomas’ Cricket team Neomal Wickremasekera had been repeatedly slapped in his face (as many as twenty five times according to an old boy of the school) and bodily assaulted in addition to being subjected to other humiliating “acts” where he suffered serious bruising.  The incident took place as a result of “ragging” which according to former prefects of St. Thomas’ College speaking to The Sunday Leader said is the “norm.”  Both, when a new prefect is chosen and happens frequently among the sporting teams of the College as well, they said. Neomal had recently been chosen as a college prefect and all new recruits according to prefects who spoke on conditions of anonymity, they said are subjected to ragging.   “The senior prefects are a law unto themselves and even have a private room where not even a teacher will enter without knocking,” a past prefect told the newspaper.

Romesh Wickremasekera, Father of the victim, Neomal, was also quoted admitting to The Sunday Leader that his son had indeed “been badly assaulted”  adding, “action was taken against the prefects by the Warden and so my son does not wish to pursue this matter any further.”

The following week The Sunday Leader followed up on the story by reporting, “Astounding new revelations confirm that nine schoolboys on the eve of being pinned with a prefect’s badge at S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia were assaulted and badly wounded as a result of being “ragged” by 17 senior prefects on Tuesday, February 8. Our story last week focused on just one student. This newspaper has since learnt that together with this student a total of nine schoolboys were assaulted and wounded by senior prefects in the ‘Prefects’ Room’ at the College. The nine victims were beaten and subjected to humiliating “acts” which even resulted in them having to be forced to wear other clothing having soiled their school uniforms. Warden of S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia, Reverend John Charles Puddefoot, last week was in consultation with top lawyers following the incident of assault on nine junior prefects by 17 senior prefects.”

The Head Prefect summarily dismissed together with an entire batch of senior prefects was the son of Nalin Laduwahetty, Vinura Laduwahetty.

In the lead up to the first story being published, The Sunday Leader reported that Attorney-at-Law Nalin Laduwahetty  had telephoned the then Chairman of The Sunday Leader, Lal Wickrematunge repeatedly in an attempt to stop the newspaper from running this story – even pushing for an afternoon meeting at the Royal Colombo Golf Club.  His request had been politely declined.

Laduwahetty subsequently resorted to legal action charging the newspaper and Frederica Jansz with having defamed him.  His son was not named as a plaintiff.  To date, neither one of the victims who were abused by the senior prefects nor any authority from St. Thomas’ college have denied the articles published in The Sunday Leader.

Colombo Telegraph learns that President Counsel Nigel Hatch initially appeared for Frederica Jansz but later withdrew from the case when the newspaper refused to meet his legal fees.  Not long after, the newspaper was taken over by the government and Jansz sacked.  The case continued to be heard in her absence – after she was forced to flee the country following serious intimidation and death threats.  She was not provided with any legal representation in her absence.

Colombo Telegraph tried to reach Lal Wickrematunge for clarification but learnt he is currently overseas and  cannot be contacted. We however sent him an email with the following questions:

1.            Why was Frederica Jansz not provided with legal representation in this case?

2.            Is it correct that President’s Counsel Nigel Hatch at first did represent Frederica?

3.            Did Hatch subsequently withdraw from the case because The Sunday Leader refused to meet his legal fees?

The Colombo Telegraph had not yet had a response from Wickrematunge.

President’s Counsel, Romesh de Silva, appeared for the plaintiff Nalin Laduwahetty with attorney, Sugath Caldera, instructed by Paul Ratnayaka Law Firm.

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Latest comments

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    Finally some one is putting a stop to Fredericas ridiculous acts. She is what I would call a show off, knows nothing journalists. She tries to make a big noise but no one care. She has defaced so many people in her life including the great General Sarath Fonseka. Frederica is not a credible journalist.

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      You are obviously one of the brainwashed many. Its a sad place with people like you refusing to see the truth.

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      Yes.

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    Nigel Hatch is a strange choice for representation – isn’t that fellow an Old Thomian, and more importantly a Government stalwart ? Anyway Romesh De Silva is the best legal mind in the country so I doubt him being there would have made much difference (or anyone else for that matter).

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      Indeed. Looks like a gold digger. Not a patch on his older brothers. Thinks highly of himself and lowly of all others.

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      Lawyers take an oath to represent their clients even if they are mad women like Jansz,

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      Hello Romesh De Silva will appear for any one, even Kotalawela for money! What an A .hole

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    Legal bigwigs taking action against defamation of character regarding the actions of their offspring? Cant a newspaper report an incident of assault in a premier educational institution? Or must these going ons be hidden from the public eye.

    It seems to be a cultural trait to hide and shape things up. From the killing of Fijian rugby player Joel Pera, to the the assault of Referee Dimitri Gunesekara, the reputation of the parents seem to be what is at stake not the issues of justice for the victims. Issue of Sovereignity for our Bigwigs.

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      FJ used her position as editor of a newspaper to take revenge for her cross examination in the white flag case where she was called a liar.i feel very sorry for her as i feel that she was put up by mr. to do the dirty by fonseka,otherwise which editor would attend a one on one interview with a controversial figure without a tape recorder as such she could not substantiate her facts.
      S Thomas’is not a govt.school it is a very private one as such what happens at S Thomas’stays at S Thomas’.Be that what it may the boy concerned was prepared to take his rag like a man (a true Thomian)and, correct me if i am wrong,it was the father who took this to the press.
      If FJ wanted to know more about raging in college she could have interviewed minister GL for his views.
      Remember STC is a boys school and physical contact is a common occurrence in any boys school.

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        Right. This is the truth.

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        You are mistaken.She was not put up by any one to do the dirty on Sarath Fonseka. What she reported was the absolute truth. Fonseka backtracked when it boomeranged on him but it was too late. In fact what Fonseka said about ‘white flags’ was also true!

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        ” What happens at St. Thomas stays at Thomas” does it mean a guy forced to do sexual acts has to keep quiet? Excuse me, St Thomas may be a private SCHOOL and IF CRIME is committed, it has to be reported. PERIOD.No school is above the law… What kind of discipline are these so called PRIVATE schools instilling to future leaders and citizenry? Does it also mean that the THOMIANS who pass out from the school, live in a totally different society? GET REAL…

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          i at no time said that fj was not telling the truth what i said was that she could not substantiate her facts.if their are any journalist reading this please tell us if you would attend a interview like this one without a tape recorder.this is where the whole thing stinks.
          with regard to the stc matter i am an old thomian in the evening of my life and i can assure you that no forced matters of any sexual nature have ever been brought to the notice of the authorities.remember that stc is a boarding school and unless one has been to a boarding school it is very difficult to understand this.raging does take place,but this rag is like no other. it is not done by unknown perverts it is a initiation process carried out by friends on friends who have played together and prayed together for a couple of years. and will remain good friends through out their lifetime.so will it be with the boy concerned.ragging did take place it does take place and will continue to take place,we know how to take it. after all that is another of the things that makes us so strong and different

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      There is nothing wrong with reporting a case if they have substantial evidence to back their article up. St. Thomas is a school where discipline is taken very seriously and a school rag whether it is in a sports team or a prefects guild is meant to build character. They don’t breed snitches and spies. In fact all the public schools have rags and so do the Medical and Law Faculties and students there don’t get off with a few slaps.

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        Peter Casie Shitty rides again!
        Your comment says it all in terms of civilized behaviour. Apart from any thing else, saying,”In fact all the public schools have rags and so do the Medical and Law Faculties and students there don’t get off with a few slaps” is supporting barbaric behaviour which certainly befits someone like you. Pray tell what other schools beat up their students when they are elevated to an important position?
        You are nothing but a LIAR, Casie Shitty, and will say anything to support the vermin who look after you!

  • 1
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    Frederica was hounded as was Lasantha. She had the guts to say it as it is. For that she and her family have had to pay a huge price. This decision is just one more example of Sri Lanka’s pathetically flawed judicial system

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    It would be useful if CT publishes the transcript of DJ Amal Ranaraja’s order to judge for ourselves the logic and the law behind this decision.

  • 0
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    At last some one has put her in the right place. Vindictive journalism should not not be tolerated. For the mere fact that Nalin Ladduwahetti appeared against her, she took it on the boy, his peers and a 160 year old great institution. Serves her right……

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    Sri Lanka’s toughest journalists have been forced to flee the country. This here is just one more example of the pathetic state of affairs in Sri Lanka today. Even a serious case of ragging is justified. Frederica stay strong. There are thousands of us who still miss reading you and your commitment to the truth

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      The exiled journalists have made a case for them to venture into greener pastures . Just like the LTTE supporters who claim asylum in foreign countries while in reality they ar eeconomic migrants .

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        Sarojini,

        Aren’t you an economic migrant too? Having made the best of the free education system in Sri Lanka, you are now serving the ‘suddhas’.

        Case of pot calling the kettle black!

        In the case of exiled journalists, they didn’t renounce their Sri Lankan citizenship like you did.

        What a hypocrite you are Sarojini or whatever your name is.

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        And dear Sarojini, what is wrong with being an economic migrant???? You need to educate yourself on the ‘Declaration of Human Rights’

  • 0
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    What a sorry state of affairs. Frederica you have always stood tall. Stay there. Sri Lanka still needs you

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      Just a general point to make – She never stood very tall. Going for lunch with the President and then even visiting his shrine Room thereafter -a fact not denied by her although the purpose of the visit is(‘coincidentally’ this visit was around the time she was due to give evidence at the White Flag case). At least Lasantha had the decency to declare his political affiliations – he was after all a UNP supporter even though he gave the UNP itself an odd shot here and there. Frederica on the other hand took a hollier than thou position and ended up becoming everyone’s goat – printing the Mahinda Chinthanaya booklets secrelty at the Leader press during the 2010 election but overtly supporting Fonseka, and then giving evidence against him. She hammered Gota, Gota sued her, then again around the time she gave evidence at the White Flag case Gota suddenly decided to withdraw the MIG case against her (even though he didn’t). Then she goes to lobby Asanga Seneviratne to buy her paper (the Sunday Leader in fact denied this initially when rumours that there were negotiations started to surface). Then she gets fired and she cries foul. Surely being the investigative reporter she was, she should have known that Asnaga Seneviratne, being the government ‘stooge’ that he is, would fire her ? After all, I’m just an average joe in Colombo and I know who Asanga Seneviratne is and where his loyalties are. Or was she just trying a deal with the devil to get a fast buck which backfired ? In which case in what respects does she ‘stand tall’ ? (just in case you were wondering -the above observations are made after reading the local press as well as sites such as CT and the transcripts of the White Flag case as published on the Sunday Times. The articles about Asanga’s takeover were denied on the Sunday Leader. Go look it up.)

      I’m not going to mention her moral short comings here because unlike the above I have nothing but rumors to go by. Bottom line – if you blindly support Frderica as being above reproach then you as bad as some of the blind supporters of MR. What Sri Lanka needs are people who won’t get stuck behind false prophets, be they the ‘sataca types’ or the the ‘devil in the blue dress’.

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    all this to do with White Flag debacle.

    Do not blame Frederica for what was said by Sarath Fonseka.
    The General was misled or may I say led up the gum tree by his earthwhile Lieutinants in his campaign Mongol Samaraweera & Anura Kumar Dissanayake to get even with the President.

    Its all exploded with what Lal Kantha had to say therefater after realising the credibility was at stake.

  • 0
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    It seems now that Fredrica did say the truth in the White Flag case even though many thought that she made up a story. However much SF denied the story, it is crystal clear that SF did tell Fredrica that LTTE prisoners with white flags were shot by the Army.

    We believe you Fredrica.

    How absurd to have been proven guilty for defamation when the STC ragging story was the truth and no parent of victims ever denied it. How absurd to give a judgment on a defamation case when the offender is not in the island and not represented by a lawyer. What in the world has happened to the Sri Lankan Judiciary???

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      I agree with you. When I read the comments of Frederica’s critics I see the huge gap between Sri Lankans’ ability to decipher the truth and their compulsion to be revengeful because of personal affiliations. This is one of the reasons for the strife prevalent in our society.

  • 0
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    This article brings into focus the steady deterioration of Sri Lanka’s premier institution – the Judiciary. Justice and fair play clearly are words of a bygone era in this island nation. While those who upheld journalistic ethics have long since departed these shores. O tempora! O mores!

  • 0
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    Frederica was betrayed. Sold. thrown to the wolves. and they are still braying for her blood. only in Sri Lanka a land like no other can this verdict pass for justice.

  • 1
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    Frederica I hope you read this. You may not remember me but you and I met briefly a decade ago if not more. Even then I was so impressed by your sense of ethics and professionalism. I have always closely followed your writings. And admired your guts. Your having left our shores is Sri Lanka’s loss. I only pray that you will return to fight another day. That said, I empathize and respect your decision to put the safety of your family first. You have indeed emerged to be a role model for Sri Lankan women. Many of whom cannot even begin to comprehend what it has taken to to have done what you did in Sri Lanka and now as a mother in a strange and unfamiliar land. My prayers are with you. Stay strong.

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    Frederica I salute you. This case once again demonstrates Sri Lanka’s perverted justice system. You will conquer. You are one helluva remarkable woman.

  • 0
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    How can a father be ‘compensated’ for his son’s misbehaviour being reported in the media?
    The full judgement should be published.

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    Amal Ranarajah is a disgrace to his father RB a former Judge.

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    Reading some of the comments purported to be made by former Thomians, I’m truly ashamed that 14 years in such a revered institution hasn’t instilled even a semblance of humanity in them!
    According to one of these so called Thomians ( I doubt whether my school would be proud to associate itself with a person who makes such a despicable comment) the true hallmark of a “man” or “true thomian” is the ability to endure the rag.
    Furthermore the question isn’t whether or not ragging builds character or a “bond”, but whether a Christian institution should along with its old and present boys condone such behaviour on such flimsy and flawed grounds?(character building seriously?)
    Jansz’s motives were vindictive no doubt but her version of the story is authentic! A press cover up wouldn’t have been what a majority of true thomians would have wanted! But political stooges are tarnishing the name of my alma mater through petty acts which go against everything we Thomians stand for: Truth and nothing but the Truth whatever the conequences!

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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

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    Even if Frederica’s motives were vindictive I admire her guts and her commitment to saying it as it is. The woman no matter what the fallout for her has never deterred from telling a story when it has to be told. and for sure the Thomian story was one that had to be exposed. For sure none of the current media has the guts to now expose the judiciary as they should be.

  • 1
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    Peter Casie Chatty!

    For your information, STC is an institution whose reputation was built on setting its own standards and never on the ‘they do it, so we’ll do it’ principle. The traditions and customs adopted over the years did indeed build character but what ragging that took place was never allowed to descend into bullying – whenever bullying was detected, it was promptly stamped on and the boys (and their parents) had the good sense to accept decisions of the Warden with good grace. Sadly, times have changed and the barbarians at the gates (who in other times would have been given short shrift)have forced their way in to pollute the hallowed corridors of this once great school.

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    Fredericka we are all with you. Some times when the truth is told nobody likes so that is Sri Lanka.
    Don’t be sad. You will be better off in America. Tc God bless.

  • 0
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    Fredrica is stunning looks wise.

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