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20.03.2009 General News

Enquirer guilty of defamation

Enquirer guilty of defamation

The Accra Fast High Court yesterday gave default judgement against the Enquirer newspaper and its editor, Mr Raymond Archer, for defaming the Country Manager of Kosmos Energy Ghana Limited, Mr George Yaw Owusu.

Mr Owusu sued the Enquirer and its editor for publishing what he described as libelous materials which created the impression that he was a drug dealer who, together with the former Minister of Defence, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, had links with the former Member of Parliament for Nkoranza, Mr Eric Amoateng.

According to Mr Owusu, those publications were untrue and as a result of the publications, his reputation had been gravely affected and therefore he had suffered and continued to suffer irreparable damage, pain and embarrassment.

He said the Enquirer made the publications in deliberate disregard to page 10 of a Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) report which clearly mentioned that a man by name "George Owusu" who had shipped ceramics to the USA and had links with Amoateng was different from him, the plaintiff, Mr Owusu." .

According to the plaintiff, he was an environmental scientist who had worked with reputable oil companies in the USA for the past 20 years and had neither met Amoateng nor ever dealt in drugs, as was "maliciously" and "mischievously" published by the newspaper.

He said the newspaper, on its front page of November 26 to November 27, 2008 and November 28 to November 29, 2008, deliberately left out page 10 of the NACOB report which clearly stated that he, Mr Owusu, was not linked to the Amoateng case.

Mr Owusu averred that he had suffered and continued to suffer considerable distress and embarrassment as a result of the said publications, which he described as "mischievous and accentuated by malice".

At the court's sitting in Accra yesterday, the court gave judgement against the Enquirer newspaper and Mr Archer for failing to appear before it within the stipulated time in accordance with the law after they had been served with the writ of summons.

The matter was adjourned to Wednesday, March 25, 2009 for assessment of damages after counsel for the plaintiff, Mr Egbert Faibille, had prayed the court to enter judgement in default of appearance against the defendants.

According to counsel, the court, on the last adjourned date, ordered that the defendants should be served through substituted service; which was done, but the defendants had failed to enter appearance.

In the substantive suit, Mr Owusu is praying the court to restrain the defendants from further publishing libelous materials which have created the impression that he was a drug baron linked to Amoateng, although had never met Amoateng in his life.

Mr Owusu is, therefore, praying the court to award general damages for libel against the defendants, as well as award aggravated damages against Mr Archer following the repetition of the defamatory words on Radio Gold, a private radio station.

The plaintiff also prayed the court to award perpetual injunction to restrain the defendants and their agents from further publishing defamatory words against him, as well as award costs against the defendants.

In substance, the court has granted the relief being sought by the plaintiff.

A statement of claim accompanying the writ stated that Mr Owusu had never known or been associated in any way, shape or form with Amoateng, adding that Mr Owusu was a reputable and well-known community leader who had lived in the USA for more than 30 years with impeccable records.

It further explained that as a Ghanaian community leader in Houston, Texas, Mr Owusu mobilised Ghanaians in the Houston community to buy promotional, and souvenir items that three Texas companies, Equiva Services Inc, Mativa Inc and Equilon Enterprises, were offloading to ship them to rural Ghana for donation to the poor.