19 June 2018

Kenya: ACK Bishop Wants Court to Dismiss Defamation Suit Filed By Cleric

The Bishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya Mount Kenya West Diocese, Joseph Kagunda, wants the High Court to dismiss a defamation case filed against him by one of the three clerics he suspended over homosexuality allegations.

The Bishop, through lawyer Wachira Nderitu, argues that the issues raised by Rev Paul Warui relate to those that were heard and determined by the Employment and Labour Relations Court two years ago. The court ordered the reinstatement of Rev Warui, who had been suspended together with Archdeacon John Gachau and Rev James Maigua.

FACTS

"The same parties cannot file a matter with similar facts and evidence when a court of competent jurisdiction already heard and determined the same. The suit concerns the same parties, involves the same issues, the evidence is the same and the prayers sought are substantially the same," Bishop Kagunda argued.

He made the application yesterday in the High Court in Nyeri before Justice Abigail Mshila when the case by Rev Warui was scheduled to come up for hearing.

In response, Rev Warui, through lawyer David Onsare, opposed the bishop's application, saying it is "mischievous and a contemptuous attempt to waste time".

He said that the issues in the Labour Court and those in High Court are different, adding that Justice Byram Ongaya of the Employment Court had ruled that the clerics were unfairly suspended.

"The court ordered the plaintiff's reinstatement which, to date, has been frustrated. This forced the plaintiff to institute contempt-of- court proceedings against the registered trustees of the church, who were, thereafter, found guilty of contempt," he added.

"But even after being found guilty of contempt, the defendant has persisted in his quest to ignore court orders," he added.

He said the case was coming up for hearing, during which Rev Warui intended to prove his claim against the Bishop.

Mr Onsare said the defamation claim is based on the letters written by the bishop, newspaper cuttings and witness testimonies. "The issue before the High Court is defamation and the damages while the issues before the Labour Court were termination of employment and unfair hearing by the tribunal," explained Mr Onsare.

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