No deal yet
Tommy Lee Sparta, Jamaica's dancehall DJ, and the Government of Dominica are still negotiating a settlement figure
News of a settlement in the Tommy Lee Sparta affair is greatly exaggerated, with the ghost of the Jamaican gothic dancehall DJ, who was denied entry here three years ago, far from exorcised.
Recent media reports originating in Jamaica indicated that the case had been settled and Sparta (his given name is Leroy Russel) would receive a sizable sum from the government of Dominica for violating his rights of entry.
However, his attorney Bert Samuels told The Sun while there was an offer on the table, the matter was far from settled.
"It's certainly has not been settled. They have made an offer, we have not accepted it and we are in the process of making a counter-offer," Samuels said in an interview from his office in Kingston.
The Star newspaper in Jamaica reported on 10 January that the artiste "would be getting a lot of money from the Dominican government" for being kicked out of the country when he arrived here in February 2014 for a concert in Portsmouth.
In a headline entitled, Tommy Lee Sparta wins case - Artiste to receive cash settlement from Dominican gov't, the paper suggested the issue was a done deal.
Although stating the artiste was unwilling to say how much he was getting, it quoted Sparta as telling controversial radio personality Mutabaruka he would soon be swimming in a lot of cash thanks to the Roosevelt Skerrit administration.
Mutabaruka had asked the DJ "how much of the US$3 million yuh a get from the Dominican government?"
"Mi a get a lot cash, man. Everybody weh pressure mi haffi pay mi, enuh, Muta. Nuh badda feel like dem a go pressure mi just suh. Mi a go mek yuh swim inna some money man and walk pon some money," the paper quoted Tommy Lee Sparta as saying.
The Snellville, Georgia, USA hip hop/rap and reggae/dancehall entertainment, lifestyle and culture website Urban Islandz went even further, stating in a report on the same day: "Tommy Lee Sparta says he will be swimming in cash after winning a US$3 million lawsuit against the Dominican government."
Asked about the figure, Samuels laughed; a deep from-the-gut sort of laugh that spoke louder than any denial.
"I can tell you categorically the millions is not true," he finally said.
"The demand is nowhere in the millions, neither is the counter-offer in the million."
The Jamaican attorney refused to disclose the numbers, telling The Sun neither side wanted to negotiate in public.
However, he admitted an offer had been received from Dominica, which his client intended to reject.
"We made a proposal for X dollars, they wrote to us and made an offer of Y dollars, substantially less than the X . . . We are at the moment writing back to them with a renewed proposal. We are not accepting the current offer," Samuels said.
Attorney General Levi Peter confirmed the two sides were still trying to work out an amicable solution, but had not reached agreement.
He also made it clear the numbers were nowhere near US$3 million.
"I can tell you there has been no settlement . . . We are in discussion; if at all we arrive at a figure that is reasonable, so be it, if not, the ball is in their court.
"The figure I am hearing is ridiculous. If it were that figure we would not be talking. They would have to let the court award that, which the CCJ [Caribbean Court of Justice] will not award," Peter told The Sun.
Like Samuels, the attorney general refused to say how much Dominica had offered Tommy Lee Sparta, who the ministry of national security - under pressure from evangelicals in an election year - said at the time was a threat to public safety.
However, a source familiar with the figures said the offer was under US$30,000, in the range of the US$38,000 the CCJ had ordered the Barbados government to pay Jamaican Shanique Myrie in damages for illegally denying her entry in 2011.
Tommy Lee Sparta had arrived here with his three-member team of Tiasha Oralie Russell, Junior Fraser and Mario Christopher Wallace, when he was denied entry, held in a cell, and deported the following day.
He had sued the Dominica government for wrongful detention, refusal of entry, denial of access to medical care and losses from the show.