Judegment Day At The High Court London

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

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The Financial Times: Reginald Mengi & principles of "authority, integrity and accuracy" .

Corruption is never about individuals per se but more about those that give it impunity and why.

On its Internet site, The Financial Times (FT) describes itself as "one of the world’s leading news organisations, recognised globally for its authority, integrity and accuracy" which provides news, comment, data and analysis, to a growing audience of internationally minded professionals.

Yesterday it published an interview (below) with Reginald Mengi of Tanzania which the paper describes as a  "media mogul" and "one of Tanzania's richest businesspeople" hoping for an end to corruption. The FT portray Mr Mengi as a man that has suffered at the hands of corruption reporting him as stating  he has lost out on at least two big deals due to corruption.

What the FT does not report was that Reginald Mengi was, in 2012 in the London High Court found complicit in the corruption of his brother Benjamin that led to the destruction and theft of legitimate UK investment in Tanzania. The following press release from Media Lawyers Carter Ruck sums up the corruption as follows:-

Press Release 
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.

Reginald Mengi sued in respect of five postings on Sarah Hermitage’s Silverdale Farm blog and two emails she had sent, which Mr Mengi claimed to be false and defamatory of him. 
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:

“I 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 common law.”

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 Mengi was refused leave to appeal this Judgement by Buxton LJ on the basis that he and his witnesses "mislead" the court. That means lied!

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.

Enquiries to Andrew Stephenson, Carter-Ruck, Tel: 020 7353 5005

Reginald Mengi at the London High Court in 2012 after losing a case thought to have cost him in excess of £3 million

The FT is a leading authority on the safety or otherwise of investment destinations to the business world. Reginald Mengi is chairman of the Tanzanian Private Sector Foundation in Tanzania which facilitates and advises on foreign direct investment. It is left to the reader to decide why, the FT in pursuing principles of "authority, integrity and accuracy" should 1) wish to interview Mr Mengi in the first place and 2) why they should omit the above relevant information, clearly in the public interest from the article.

Corruption is never about individuals per se but more about those that give it impunity and why.

Interview with Tanzanian media mogul Reginald Mengi

One of Tanzania’s richest businesspeople sees hope for end to graft

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.

But two hours with the softly spoken businessman, who is one of the country’s richest people, reveals a very different picture. Despite Tanzania’s economy growing at more than 7 per cent a year, Mr Mengi says widespread graft has left it resembling a piece of fabric that is riddled by holes. “You touch here there’s a hole, you touch here there’s a hole,” he says prodding the tablecloth over lunch in a Dar es Salaam hotel. “You touch this ministry there’s a hole, you touch this functionary … everywhere is full of holes.” Mr Mengi says he has lost out on at least two big deals due to corruption.

It is not just corruption that has hampered Tanzania’s economic growth; it was ruled for decades by socialists who regularly stifled entrepreneurialism, Mr Mengi says. The businessman recounts how in the 1980s there were widespread shortages due to the government promoting policies that favoured domestic produce over imports. “People would queue for anything and things were very very tough,” he says. It was this scarcity that prompted Mr Mengi — then working at UK accountancy Coopers & Lybrand, now PwC — to go into business in the 1980s, assembling ballpoint pens. “At that time it was very difficult to import ready-made goods. Fortunately the system allowed the importation of components or knocked-down goods that you could assemble locally.”

Mr Mengi eventually acquired the financing and the components and navigated the bureaucracy to launch his business. He describes how he made money by producing shoe polish out of charcoal during the shortages. But he says that decades of socialism have had a significant impact on society. “People don’t see opportunities in things,” he says. “We have so much in Tanzania people need help to see the opportunities which are there.” The economy did open up in the late 1990s under President Benjamin Mkapa. But Mr Mengi says the policies ushered in an era of crony capitalism

By last year the situation “had reached tipping point”, according to Mr Mengi, and he is relieved that the new president, John Magufuli, has prioritised fighting corruption. Mr Mengi acknowledges the president has yet to articulate his economic vision, but he understands why this has taken time. “If someone has a heart attack what do you do? Poop poop poop, you try and revive them. You don’t think, ‘Shall I give them a Panadol?’” he says while miming using a defibrillator. Despite painting a gloomy picture, Mr Mengi says businesspeople should not be too downcast about the current “bad times”. “People with guts will make a lot of money in bad times, a lot of money,” he insists. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You can say this is good times or bad times depending on the beholder.”

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