Accra, Aug. 6, GNA - An Accra Fast Track High Court has awarded 120 million cedis general damages, 17,154 pounds sterling and 12,000 dollars as special damages against Graphic Communications Group Limited and the British Council in Accra for publishing a libellous article against the City of London Business College in 2001.
The Court presided over by Dr Justice P.K. Owusu Ansah, Court of Appeal Judge sitting as an additional High Court Judge, also awarded 50 million cedis for hotel accommodation and meals as well as 50 million cedis cost against the defendants.
The Court in its ruling ordered a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their servants or agents from publication of the said words.
It further ordered the defendants to publish within 21 days from July 8, 2004, the judgment day, a retraction on the same page of the publication.
The Court was of the view that "to state in writing that an Institution is fake is clearly libellous, especially when it reflects adversely on the plaintiff's trade or business or calling".
It said with the two publications by the defendants, the plaintiff had been greatly injured in its good name, reputation, business and had suffered considerable damage.
The Court said it was convinced the College was a United Kingdom registered school with registration number 2549276.
It said there was overwhelming evidence before it that the words complained of by the plaintiff were libellous and were first published by the Daily Graphic and then jointly and severally by the Council.
The Court said although the British Council had performed well in Ghana care should be exercised so as not to ruin other people's businesses out of exuberant over-enthusiasm for sensationalism. Mr Osei Assibey Kwateng, Principal of the College, filed the writ on October 25, 2001 for libel against the two defendants in a publication in the Daily Graphic of August 27, 2001.
According to the writ, the publication stated: "Investigations by the Graphic have established that the City of London Business College, which recently advertised for admissions in the Ghana Media is fake.
"The School has not been registered in the directory of Recognised Institutions in the United Kingdom."
The writ said in another publication on September 10, 2001 by the Daily Graphic, a letter from the British Council in Accra said: "The general public have mistaken the City of London College which is accredited by the Council to be the same as the City of London Business College which is not accredited."
Relief sought by the writ included special damages for refunds made to prospective students of the College, legal costs in the UK, non-refundable air fares loss due to abortive trial dates and airfares to Ghana to prosecute case.
Others were general damages, perpetual injunction to restrain the defendants from further publications and costs.
The Graphic Communications in their defence admitted liability for the publication but denied that it was actuated by malice. It also pleaded that it had attempted to have the matter amicably settled out of court having offered to publish a retraction and an apology.
The Council in its defence said the fact that the City of London Business College had not been voluntarily accredited did not necessarily mean that it was "bad" or "fake".