Corruption is never about individuals per se but more about those that give it impunity and why.
Date: 30 November 2012
Sarah Hermitage Libel Defence Upheld
Silverdale Farm Blog Justified
At the High Court in London today, Mr Justice Bean delivered Judgment in favour of Sarah Hermitage, who had been sued for libel by the wealthy Tanzanian businessman, Reginald Mengi, the Executive Chairman of IPP Ltd, a company which holds major newspaper and broadcasting interests in Tanzania.
During the trial, the Court heard unchallenged evidence from Sarah Hermitage and her husband, Stewart Middleton, as to how they were by threats, intimidation and corruption driven from Tanzania and forced to abandon the investment they had made in their farm, Silverdale, of which Reginald Mengi’s younger brother, Benjamin, then took possession. The Court was told that a major factor in the ordeal they suffered was the hostile and defamatory coverage their case received from the IPP-owned English language Guardian and the Swahili Nipashe newspapers. Reginald Mengi, in the course of his evidence, repeatedly stated that he “was not responsible, not accountable and not answerable” for the editorial content of IPP publications.
In giving Judgment, Mr Justice Bean ruled:
After handing down judgment Mr Justice Bean ordered that Reginald Mengi should pay the defence costs at the higher “indemnity” rate. In reaching this decision, the factors cited by the Judge included that Counsel for Sarah Hermitage had “rightly described the litigation as “oppressive”, that “enormous costs had been thrown at the case from the beginning, indeed before the issue of proceedings” and that the evidence of the Claimant and his witnesses had in a number of respects been “misleading and untrue.”
Mr Justice Bean ordered that Reginald Mengi should pay £1.2million on account of Sarah Hermitage’s legal costs, which will be subject to detailed assessment by the court in due course.
Interview with Tanzanian media mogul Reginald Mengi
The personal website of Reginald Mengi — the tycoon who, over 30 years, has accumulated interests in print and broadcast media, manufacturing, soft drinks, mining and technology — suggests Tanzania is and always has been an open economy where it is easy to do business.