A farmer-turned-blogger who claimed that she was driven from her farm in Tanzania by one of East Africa’s promiment and well oiled media tycoons, Reginald Mengi, has won a landmark in the case brought against her by the media tycoon.
Through her blog, Silverdale Farm, Sarah Hermitage documented what she went through in trying to maintain her farm in Tanzania. She document various cases of abuse of power, corruption, intimidation and violence at the hand of Tanzanian authorities and at the instigation of Reginald Mengi and others.
Mengi who owns the IPP Media group eventually took her to a British court accusing her of defamation and spreading falsehoods. Sarah and her husband, Stewart Middleton, claimed in various blog posts that they were driven from Tanzania and forced off their investment in Silverdale Farm by “threats and corruption”.
Sarah then documented how Mengi’s younger brother, Benjamin, took possession of the house, according to her lawyers Carter-Ruck. The Hermitages narrated the ordeal they suffered from the “hostile and defamatory coverage their case received” from the English language Guardian and the Swahili Nipashe. Both titles are owned by Mengi’s IPP Media.
But Mengi defended himself saying that he “was not responsible, not accountable and not answerable” for the editorial content of IPP Media.
But in his judgement, 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.”
Justice Bean ordered that Mengi pay £1.2million on account of Sarah Hermitage’s legal costs, which will be subject to “detailed assessment” by the court.