The GH¢25 million defamation suit filed by investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, against the Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central Constituency, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, was yesterday dismissed by the Accra High Court (General Jurisdiction 11).
Justice Eric Baah, a Court of Appeal Judge, sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, held that Anas (Plaintiff) failed to prove that Mr Agyapong (defendant) defamed him through the broadcasting of the documentary “Who Watches the Watchman.”
In 2018, the plaintiff filed a suit in court alleging that he had been defamed by the MP and asked the court to award aggravated damages of GH¢25 million as compensation to him.
In his statement of claim, counsel for Anas, stated that Mr Agyapong published defamatory words against his client on May 31, 2018, on Oman FM, a private radio station, owned by defendant.
It is the case of Anas that Mr Agyapong, published more defamatory materials against him through other media platforms and also released pictures purported to be that of the plaintiff.
The plaintiff contends that his reputation, especially as a lawyer and as a globally acclaimed investigative journalist, had been damaged.
The plaintiff avers that following the publication, he was inundated with numerous calls from business associates, journalists around the world, social relations, friends, outright strangers, and he has had to answer very mortifying questions,” the statement of claim said.
According to the plaintiff, Mr Agyapong published the words complained of knowing them to be false and reckless.
However, in his judgment, Justice Baah averred that Anas failed to prove his case against Mr Agyapong.
The judge said that if there was anything at all, the documentary rather exposed shady deals engaged in by Anas and his syndicate.
Justice Baah said the defendant, Mr Agyapong, provided sufficient evidence to affirm the notion that the plaintiff, Anas used the findings of his work to extort money from persons implicated in his so called investigative work.
In addition, Justice Baah said the evidence adduced by the defendant affirmed that persons who were able to pay the sums of money demanded by Anas were shielded and their videos kept in the cooler, hiding it from public viewing.
Justice Baah noted that “Anas is not engaged in investigative journalism but rather investigative terrorism.”
The judge said “I find the claims by the plaintiff meritless and they are hereby dismissed.”
Lawyers of Mr Agyapong after the judgement asked the court to award cost of GH¢ one million against the plaintiff, however, counsel for Anas pleaded with the judge to award GH¢ 20,000 cost against his client.
Justice Baah indicated that since the award of cost in civil cases was at the discretion of the court, he will award GH¢50,000 as cost against the plaintiff.
BY CLIFF EKUFUL