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
Thursday, 6 June 2013
Reginald Mengi: Anti corruption conferences and corruption.
Reginald Mengi shown below right at the Fourth Pan African
Anti-Corruption Conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania yesterday (5th June 2013).
President Kikwete's Minister for Good Governance George Mkuchika (L), Tanzania's Chief Justice Mohammed Chande Othman (C)
and IPP Executive Chairman Dr Reginald Mengi at Fourth Pan African
Anti-Corruption Conference in Dsm yesterday (5th June 2013).
In 2004 Reginald Mengi’s brother Benjamin a
hotelier and former business partner of Jeremy Lefroy, British Member of
Parliament for the UK’s Stafford constituency since the 2010 election, assigned
the lease to Silverdale and Mbono Farms (in the Hai district of the Kilimanjaro
Region) to two British private investors in Tanzania, Stewart Middleton and
Sarah Hermitage. A year later he demanded the lease back on the basis that he
had not been paid in full, despite having signed a receipt. Benjamin
unilaterally declared the assignment void after the Tanzanian High Court had
dismissed his application to set the assignment aside and evict the investors
from the farms. He then harassed and intimidated the investors until they were
forced to flee Tanzania in 2008 in fear of their lives and took possession of
In 2009 Sarah Hermitage
started blogging about her experiences in Tanzania which she states gave her a
voice and enabled her to “warn other people to not to go to Tanzania and not to
invest, and because the British government is pouring copious amounts of money
in to a country whose President travels around the world spouting rhetoric of
good governance and upholding the rule of law, and there are some
inconsistencies in that rhetoric which I felt needed to be recorded.”
In her Blog, Hermitage alleged
that IPP Media had facilitated a defamatory and biased campaign of journalism on
the Silverdale Farm case which amounted to journalistic terrorism
facilitating Benjamin Mengi’s corruption and campaign of harassment against them
in order to grab their property and that Reginald Mengi knowingly encouraged
that campaign and in effect was complicit in the destruction of British
investment in Tanzania.
Mengi sued Hermitage for
Libel in the High Court in London and the case was heard and successfully
defended by Ms Hermitage in December 2012.
During the trial, no-one
disputed that IPP Media’s coverage was slanted and biased. The only issue was
Reginald Mengi’s role in it. Like Murdoch, he claimed he knew nothing. The
Court also 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:
find that the campaign in the Guardian and Nipashe facilitated Benjamin’s
corruption of local officials and intimidation of the Middletons and thus
helped Benjamin to destroy their investments and grab their properties; and
that Mr [Reginald] Mengi, since he either encouraged or knowingly permitted the
campaign, was in that sense complicit in Benjamin’s corruption and
intimidation. The allegation is thus substantially true, and justified at
The judge concluded that
Reginald Mengi appointed a team of loyal editors who lay down the party line
and would publish nothing that criticized the Claimant or his family ruling
that Reginald Mengi:-
the campaign in his newspapers to praise his brother and denigrate the
Middletons; and did so by making senior editorial staff aware, through Mr Nguma
[the in-house lawyer] or otherwise, of what line the journalists on the ground
were expected to take.”
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
“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 in essence
found that Reginald Mengi:-
lied to and misled the court.
complicit in corruption.
·Had been guilty of criminal libel in Tanzanian criminal law,
in the event – which was surely theoretical – that the authorities decided to
The Tanzanian government is keen to portray this case as a commercial
dispute. It is not. It is simply, the failure of the Tanzanian government to
recognise the law in Tanzania. The fundamental issues in this case are
corruption and abuse of law. There is a simple choice facing the Tanzanian
government. To support the rule of law and protect the lawful interests of bona
fide investors or, the corruption and criminal interests of Tanzanians. So far
it has chosen the latter.
President Kikwete gave his personal promise to the British government
that the rule of law would be upheld in this case. He has not kept this
promise, the corruption in the Silverdale Farm case continues and men found
guilty of corruption in Tanzania continue to state their commitment to fighting
corruption with impunity and seemingly with the approval of the Tanzanian government.
Reginald Mengi (C) attends the High Court in London in October 2012 where he failed in his efforts to sue British solicitor Sarah Hermitage for Libel.