Managing Editor of the Daily Post newspaper Michael Dokosi has said he will appeal against the ruling by an Accra High Court ordering them to pay GHS800,000 to Chairman of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Hackman Owusu Agyeman, for defamatory publications.
The former Minister in the Kufuor administration filed the suit in 2015 after the paper had published that he recorded and leaked a secret conversation Mr Kufuor had with some clergymen and party elders at his residence in Accra.
The former MP also named one Mahama Haruna in the suit (number BC 707/2015).
The paper had quoted Mr Mahama Haruna as saying Mr Owusu Agyeman leaked the conversation to embarrass the former president and to undermine the chances of the New Patriotic Party’s flag bearer in the 2016 elections.
Among the claims sought by Mr Owusu Agyeman were: “Damage for libel in the sum of GHS5million, an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the Defendants, whether by themselves, their agents, servants, workmen, privies or any of them or otherwise from further writing, printing, publishing and/or causing to be written, printed and published the said words or similar statements defamatory of the plaintiff.”
Mr. Owusu Agyeman had expressed serious concern about the allegations. He said as an elder within the party and after serving the Danquah, Busia, Dombo tradition for decades, he found such an attempt to tarnish his hard-earned reputation both in politics, public life and business life very worrying. He said the allegations were preposterous hence the court action.
Apart from the GHS800,000 damages, the court also ordered the publishers to retract the defamatory comment and publish an express apology on the front page of the newspaper in two weeks.
But Mr Dokosi in an interview with Class News’ Jonas Ofori-Yeboah, said he will contest the ruling as the facts in the matter were distorted.
“The judge did not look at the crux of the matter. We did not libel the former minister; we did not defame him, so, we are going to appeal against the sentence. I’m talking to my lawyer and as soon as it is possible, we will appeal against the sentence,” he stated.
He continued: “First of all, the material being spoken of is a Facebook publication by an NPP activist who fingered Mr Hackman Owusu Agyeman as being the source of the leaked tapes. What we published was that Haruna Mahama is claiming that Hackman is the source of the tapes; that is all that we published.
“At that time there were the issues of leaked tapes that had become a public issue and the public wanted to know something about it and this was a comment made by an NPP activist against another NPP member on Facebook, which is a public gallery. So all we wrote was that this was what Haruna Mahama is saying about Hackman. That is the part we played in this whole thing,” Mr Dokosi explained.