Dr. Tony Aidoo, a former Deputy Minister of Defence in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration, has lost a court case in which he sued Western Publications, publishers of DAILY GUIDE, for reporting that he had been dismissed from the Ghana Law School.
Also joined in the suit by the NDC strongman was the Ghana School of Law.
Justice E.K. Dzakpasu, an Accra High Court Judge, ruled that as far as the case was concerned, DAILY GUIDE had acted in the interest of the public.
The Judge also noted that the paper was justified in publishing the information as the public deserved the right to know the story since Tony Aidoo was a public figure and also a leading political figure in the country.
Justice Dzakpasu said in his judgment last Friday that the general public deserved to know the methods of admission into the Law School and why Dr. Aidoo was attending lectures without a formal admission letter.
According to him, there was no breach of confidentiality on the part of Western Publications, which published the story on November 11, 2003, as claimed by the former Deputy Minister, also the plaintiff in this matter.
In addition, he said there was nothing malicious about the publication apart from the facts of the story, adding that what would have been serious was if the paper had published the story without confirming its authenticity from the right sources.
The Judge was of the view that in a case where there was a claim of breach of confidence in the life of a public figure, public interest should take precedence over privacy.
Furthermore, the Judge observed that the plaintiff led no independent evidence to prove the kind of confidentiality he had with the DAILY GUIDE that had been breached.
Dr. Aidoo, in this case, as well sued the Ghana Law School, accusing it of wrongfully refusing him admission to the school, and maintaining that his fundamental human rights of fair treatment had been infringed upon.
He was also peeved that the school had disclosed information to the newspaper about him.
The former Director of the school, Mr. Ansah Asare, who gave evidence in court on behalf of the institution, said Dr. Aidoo, who had started attending lectures at the school, was asked to withdraw and better his grade in criminal law to enable him to be admitted officially.
The then Director also said the school only owed confidentiality to students of the institution but not the plaintiff who was not yet a student.
On the admission of the plaintiff, he was of the opinion that he should have been granted the admission because he qualified even though he had a complimentary 'C' pass in criminal law.
He said the school erred in law when they failed to give him admission because the Diploma the plaintiff had from the College of Law from the United Kingdom was recognized by the school.
Buttressing the argument of admission, the High Court Judge also said the school authorities should not have denied him entry into the professional law course when conditions for requirements said certificates from recognized schools, such as that of the college Dr. Aidoo attended in the UK, were acceptable by the Ghana Law School.
However, he noted that the plaintiff again failed to show what kind of confidentiality and how the Law School breached it when he entered the dock to give evidence.
Explaining further, the Judge said even though the plaintiff had accused the Law School of giving the story to the newspaper, Mrs. Gina Ama Blay, Managing Editor of the paper, in her evidence-in chief, explained how the story got to the paper.
He said Mrs. Blay was emphatic that she heard the story and called the then Registrar of the Law School to confirm it, which he accordingly did.
Subsequently, he said the story could have been given to DAILY GUIDE by any law student or any worker of the school and the newspaper, not wanting to publish anything scandalous, went ahead professionally to verify the authenticity or otherwise as the story concerned a public figure.
He added that the school seized the opportunity to tell the truth about the matter so as to avoid speculations.
He awarded no costs, saying the combatants should bear their own expenses.
By Fidelia Achama