Kenya: Court Awards Nyali MP Mohamed Ali Sh1 Million Over Defamatory Story

A Nairobi court on Thursday ordered a local daily to pay Nyali Member of Parliament Mohamed Ali Sh1 million as defamation costs for a story it published.

The court further directed The Star to foot the bill of the suit from the date it was filed until payment in full.

Mr Ali, a former journalist, moved to court after the newspaper published a story alleging that he had sacked three constituency employees after he was allegedly implicated in embezzlement of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) kitty.

He named the writer of the story, Ernest Cornel, as a respondent, saying he had tainted his reputation by publishing an article implying that he was embezzling CDF funds.

The legislator, through McKay Advocates, accused The Star of 'refusing' to get his side of the story hence denying him the right to a fair hearing. He said that he was available but was not reached by the writer.

Right of reply

In her ruling, Milimani Magistrate S. Gitonga found that the publisher had misrepresented the facts in a story which was carried on their March 10, 2018 edition which later issued a correction and also sought clarification from the MP but ordered them to pay for the damages caused by the initial publication.

"Owing to the fact that the plaintiff was afforded a right of reply and a clarification was published on May 11and 12, 2019, which sought to make clarifications and directly apologise to the plaintiff, and taking into consideration the provisions under Section 16 A of the Defamation Act Cap 36 of the Laws of Kenya, I award the plaintiff a sum of Sh1,000,000 as general damages for the tort of defamation," the judgment read in part.

The Star, as well as the author of the article, denied malicious intent, claiming that the words were not meant to be understood in a "defamatory manner either in their natural and ordinary meaning or by innuendo".

In a statement issued Thursday, the Nyali MP said he was happy with the ruling and advised young journalists to deal with the facts 'like we did'.

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