Judegment Day At The High Court London

Judegment Day At The High Court London
Mengi v Hermitage: Libel Claim Successfully Defended

Sunday, 30 June 2013




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 following link:

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 nothing that criticised him or his family. He had encourage the campaign 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 posting.


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.

Sarah Hermitage

30th June 2013.

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