Kampala- Uganda, House of Prayer Ministries boss Ps Aloysius Bugingo has instructed a top city law firm to separately sue Red Pepper and Bukedde newspapers saying they have carried many untrue stories in the last couple of days.
He says the stories have in effect defamed him and lowered his standing before right thinking members of society.
The tort of defamation (as has been defined in several court decisions) basically refers to publishing news that has the effect of lowering someone’s reputation before right thinking members of society.
And it’s one action against which the party being sued has a very limited range of defenses against. One is a defense of privilege in case one sources the story from say court or parliamentary proceedings.
That defense will be available to the publishing house as long they publish what transpired without distortion or else they will remain liable for defamation.
The other would be a defense of truth whereby the newspaper being sued adduces verifiable evidence that what they wrote was true.
This has to be established to the satisfaction of court by producing evidence corroborating what they published.
The other is the defense of fair comment whereby the newspaper demonstrates to court that they spoke to the plaintiff (in this case Bugingo) according him an opportunity to give his side of the story.
ANITE’S EXAMPLE As Investment Minister Evelyn Anite ably demonstrated sometime last year, pursuing a newspaper over defamatory stuff through civil means is more crippling to a publishing house than dragging them to CIID Kibuli under the Computer Misuse Act.
This is so because whereas being reported to Kibuli gets the offensive publication public sympathy while portraying the complainant as the aggressor trying to use his or her relationship with the State to gag the media from doing their work, civil defamation suits frighten publishers more because at the end of the litigation you have to pay the aggrieved party (plaintiff) colossal sums of money because in law one doesn’t win a case in vain.
There must be consequences and the winning plaintiff must get some money (technically called damages) to atone the loss of reputation occasioned unto him or her by the impugned newspaper articles. BACK TO BUGINGO Speaking on the Misingi program of Monday evening on his Salt Media platforms (8-9pm), Bugingo said he was suing the Red Pepper for their Monday story which portrayed him as a man with many more children than what is morally acceptable.
Implying moral repugnance on Bugingo, they described him as a man with a farm of children which he said on the Misingi program wasn’t only untrue but also portrayed him as a worthless character. As for Bukedde, Bugingo said their Monday story accused him of verbally assaulting his wife and they raised 12 things they said he had secretly communicated to her all aimed at eroding her self-esteem which he says he has never uttered.
Commending Daily Monitor for keeping away from what he called trivial reporting, Bugingo said the two newspapers will have the opportunity to prove their allegations against him (including adducing DNA evidence) in the Civil Division of the High Court where he is filing the case.
He said he acknowledges the fact that as a public figure, he isn’t beyond public scrutiny but there has to be fair reporting based on things which have transpired as opposed to excessive sensationalism.
The Pastor said he had initially ignored but his silence had been misconstrued for weakness and now is time to seek protection through courts of law like any other Ugandan would do on getting aggrieved.
He also wondered why Vision Group, to which Bukedde belongs, would perceive him as a competitor yet his Salt Media does broadcast on things that are totally unrelated to stuff they communicate to their audiences.
He said by going to court, he was only seeking lawful protection against infactual reporting.
He said given his high reputation, he will be demanding billions in damages and reimbursement of all legal fees and costs by the two newspapers.
Bugingo (who retains many law firms) said by Wednesday, his lawyers will have served the two media houses to enable them file their respective defenses if they have any. He said that DNA results will (as part of evidence) have to be submitted against him to prove that he indeed fathers a farm of kids.
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