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12.12.2007 Crime & Punishment

“The Chronicle”, four others fined ¢1,000


A Kumasi High Court presided over by Mr Bright Mensah on Monday awarded cost of GH¢1,000 (¢10 million) against General Portfolio Limited, publishers of “The Chronicle” and four others for their failure to enter their defence within the stipulated eight days of a writ filed against them in October 2007.

The other defendants include Ernest Kofi Adu and Issah Alhassan, both Kumasi Reporters of the Newspaper; Emmanuel Akli, Acting Editor and the Managing Director of the Company.

The legal action was instituted by Mr Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah, Ashanti Regional Minister, who is also the Member of Parliament for Kwabre West, as the first plaintiff and seven others on October 10, 2007 against the Defendants for publishing a defamatory story against them which was purported to be false.

In a statement of claim attached to the writ and filed on behalf of the Plaintiffs by their Solicitors of the Holy Trinity Chambers in Kumasi said the second Plaintiff, Mr Osei Asibey Antwi was the Deputy Ashanti Regional Minister.

The third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh plaintiffs are, constituency chairmen for Manhyia; Kumawu; Bantama; Nhyieso; Asante Akim North and Asokwa in that order, and are together with the first and second plaintiffs, staunch members of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).

The Plaintiffs argued in their statement of claim that the story headlined “The President Goofs Again, Kufuor Weeps over Alan”, and published in the October 4 edition of the paper was maliciously done and meant to generate hatred and contempt for them.

They claimed that their names were mentioned as having participated in a secret meeting with President Kufuor at the Residency in Kumasi and at that meeting, the President asked them to campaign for Mr Alan Kyerematen, one of the party's presidential aspirants.

According to the Plaintiffs, the import of the publication was that President Kufuor has had a clandestine illegal and unauthorized meeting with them at which meeting the President wept bitterly and asked them to work harder for the election of Mr Kyerematen.

They emphasized that the third and fourth did not go to the residency on October 4 2007 and that it was false and misleading for the Defendants to mention their names as those who participated in the alleged secret meetings and received the hardest of the presidential rebuke.

“The First and Second were also not at the residency and in their radio discussions after the publication confirmed that they were not at the alleged secret meeting”, the statement of claim said.

The Plaintiffs indicated that on October 5, 2007, they organized a press conference for the Defendants to explain what happened at the residency and to which the Media including the defendants were invited but they refused, failed or neglected to make an appearance.

They claimed that the Defendants had soiled their hard-won reputation thereby preventing their other flag bearer aspirants of the NPP from visiting them and their constituents as they routinely did.

The Defendants, they said had got no defence to their actions and, therefore, claim against the Defendants jointly and severally for special and general damages, arising from the publication.

They are also claiming an order for perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants, their agents, servants and any person claiming title through them from publishing further false publications about them.