Journalist to pay former boss Sh8m for online defamation
A court in Nakuru has ordered a former Standard Group journalist to pay his former boss Sh8 million for publishing defamatory statements about him on his Facebook account two years ago.
In a precedent-setting judgement, Chief Magistrate Josephat Kalo ordered Vincent Mabatuk—a former correspondent at the company’s Nakuru bureau office—to pay Alex Kiprotich compensation for ruining his reputation.
The defendant, who had just left the company to vie for the Mogotio ward rep seat, published a series of posts against his former Bureau Chief after the two found themselves on opposing sides.
While Kiprotich doubled up as an aide of Baringo Senator and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, Mabatuk was one of the key figures around Jubilee Party’s senatorial candidate for Baring county Simon Chelugui who is currently the Labour Cabinet Secretary.
According to the ruling delivered on Wednesday, the defendant also posted the defamatory statements on “For Real I am from Baringo County” Facebook page, which was found to be malicious.
“From the evidence on record, the court finds that the plaintiff’s reputation suffered a great deal and took a plunge from the lofty position that the society held him”, the ruling read in part.
Lawyer Kipkoech Ng’etich, who represented the plaintiff, said the judgement was a lesson to those who have a penchant for bullying others online.
“The plaintiff testified that as a result of the publication of the statements by the defendant, his reputation has been injured and he had been brought to great public ridicule, hatred and odium in the minds of right thinking members of society,” said the magistrate.
Kiprotich presented six witnesses who testified in court while Mabatuk curiously skipped all court sessions something that caught the attention of the court.
“The defendant neither entered appearance nor filed a defence despite service being effected to him,” the judgement says.