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COURT ORDERS PALAVER APOLOGY FOR GABBY

General News

An Accra high court has ordered the Ghana Palaver newspaper, published by Revalap Publishers & Suppliers, to publish an unqualified apology for a defamatory story last year about Asare Otchere-Darko, a legal practitioner and proprietor of the Daily Statesman, and to make a retraction.

An Accra high court has ordered the Ghana Palaver newspaper, published by Revalap Publishers & Suppliers, to publish an unqualified apology for a defamatory story last year about Asare Otchere-Darko, a legal practitioner and proprietor of the Daily Statesman, and to make a retraction.

On September 13 2017 Mr Otchere-Darko sued the Accra-based tabloid for defamation and prayed the court to jointly and severally award damages, including aggravated damages, for libel. He also demanded an injunction restraining each of the defendants, whether individually or through their agents, from further publishing the particular defamatory words or anything similar or causing them to be published elsewhere.

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The court, presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, ordered the defendants, Revalap Publishers & Suppliers and Tetteh Amedjoe, to “publish an unqualified apology and retraction of the story that gave rise to this suit, giving it front-page banner headline prominence in the Ghana Palaver within 14 days after the entry of this settlement as consent judgment”.

The court added: “The unqualified apology and retraction of the story shall be carried by the defendants on the website of Ghana Palaver on the same day of its publication in the Ghana Palaver.”

The defendants have also been ordered to reimburse the plaintiff for filing fees covering all processes so far in the lawsuit, within 30 days of entry of the settlement as consent judgment.

The plaintiff has reserved full rights to proceed against the defendants if they default on the court’s orders.

Background

The Palaver published a story last year with the headline “Revealed: Ken Ofori-Atta gives Gabby Otchere-Darko US$20 million review contract”.

The story alleged that the Finance Minister “had packaged a juicy contract and given it to a law firm founded by his equally controversial nephew Asare Otchere-Darko, popularly called Gabby”.

Among other things, the story further alleged that the law firm, Africa Legal Associates, had been contracted by the Minister for Finance to review all agreements and contracts entered into by the Ministry of Finance over the past 15 years and that Mr Otchere-Darko had in turn recruited a US law firm, White & Case, to undertake the exercise because of its “lack of capacity”.

The publication went on to allege that that the “contract” had been awarded on a sole-sourcing basis.

Smear tactics

But Mr Otchere-Darko insisted there was no truth to the story and that it was meant only to tarnish his reputation as a lawyer.

The plaintiff’s writ, filed at the Supreme Court on September 13 2017 by his counsel, Kissi Agyebeng, pointed out that “in their natural and ordinary meaning, the words published and/or caused to be published, and republished and/or caused to be republished by the defendants … referred to and were understood to refer to the plaintiff and they meant and were understood to mean that … the Plaintiff is a member of a scandal-prone family and he was in cahoots with the Finance Minister of the Republic to fleece the Republic of US$20 million or GHC100 million”.

Consequently he sought “an injunction restraining the defendants and each of them, whether by themselves, their servants, or agents or otherwise, from further publishing or causing to be published the said or similar words defamatory of the plaintiff”, as well as costs, including lawyers’ fees.