This is the story of British investors Stewart Middleton and Sarah Hermitage driven from Tanzania by violence, abuse and intimidation instigated by Benjamin Mengi which included a vicious defamation campaign by IPP Media a powerful media house owned by his brother Reginald Mengi. Reginald Mengi sued Sarah Hermitage for Libel in London in 2010 for posts in this Blog. On 30th November 2012 the High Court ruled that Reginald Mengi was complicit in his brother’s corruption and intimidation.
Judegment Day At The High Court London
Mengi v Hermitage: Libel Claim Successfully Defended
Sunday, 30 June 2013
LIBEL REFORM: THE NEED TO ADDRESS A FORIEGN PLAINTIFF’S RIGHT TO SUE IN THE UK COURTS
THE NEED TO
ADDRESS A FOREIGN PLAINTIFF’S RIGHT TO SUE IN THE UK COURTS
In 2010, Reginald Mengi a powerful and influential media
owner in Tanzania sued me for Libel in the London High Court. Details of the
case and the judgement can be downloaded from the website of 5RB at the
In 2009 I set up a website
(http://thesilverdalecase.blogspot.co.uk/) which describes how by violence,
harassment, intimidation and abuse of law, I and my husband Stewart Middleton
were driven from Tanzania after which Reginald Mengi’s brother Benjamin took
possession of our farm and Silverdale.
I alleged on my blog that Reginald Mengi had encouraged a
campaign of “journalistic terrorism” by deliberately publishing inaccurate,
abusive and defamatory attacks on us, our staff and business operations in
Tanzania in his IPP media outlets which had facilitated his brother’s
corruption of local officials and had assisted his theft of our investment.
At the trial in October 2012 the Court heard unchallenged
evidence of the threats, intimidation and corruption that forced us to abandon
our investment in Tanzania and of how a major factor in the ordeal was the
hostile and defamatory coverage our 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.
Mr Justice Bean ruled that Reginald Mengi was complicit
in his brother’s corruption which helped destroy and steal our investment in
Tanzania. The Judge concluded that Reginald Mengi had appointed a team of loyal
editors who laid down the party line and would publish nothingthat
criticised him or his family. He had encourage thecampaign against
us making senior editorial staff aware, through his in house layer Mr of
what line the journalists on the ground were expected to take.
After handing down judgement Mr Justice Bean ordered
Reginald Mengi to 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.”
The court also found that Reginald Mengi and his
witnesses had lied to and misled the court and that he appeared to have been
guilty of criminal libel in Tanzanian criminal law, in the event – which
was surely theoretical – that the authorities decided to prosecute him, which
of course they have not.
Despite the ruling in my case the following article
continues to be published on the social Internet website JamiiForums. The
contents of the publication are self-explanatory. JamiiForums refuse to remove
The defamatory content contained in the above link was removed at 9 a.m. 1st July 2013.
When asked, Reginald Mengi told the UK High Court he was
not concerned with JamiiForums in any way.
I was fortunate to have been in a position to
successfully defend Mengi’s claims against me being represented on a
contingency fee agreement by Solicitor’s Carter-Ruck and Counsel James
Price QC and Jonathan Barnes from 5RB. This in itself raises issues vis-à-vis
civil litigation funding reforms but those are not under discussion here. The
issue here is that it is my belief; foreign plaintiffs should not have a prima
facie right to sue in the UK courts.
The Civil Procedure Rules are capable (obviously not in
their present form) of assessing both the merits of a foreign plaintiffs claim,
his conduct in his home country and the equity of allowing it to proceed in the
UK courts. If such a right is granted, security for costs should be a
pre-requisite of that right particularly when plaintiffs originate from
countries whose legal jurisdictions are notable corrupt, such as Tanzania.
To an extent, the recent libel law reforms (i.e. the real
and substantial Tort requirement) make it more difficult for foreign
nationals to pursue spurious libel cases through London’s High Court but a
loop-hole does remain particularly, at the early stages of a claim, for the
rich and famous to continue to satiate their egos and cause emotional and
financial havoc in the lives of their critics.