TAF NJIE v. L BOY JANNEH
TAF clearly has the means to hire the very best lawyers in The Gambia, so I would like to create a level playing field, or what the courts call “equality of arms” by appearing for L Boy Janneh briefly.
Dr Ramu Njie says “Ndemban has been handed over to the Ministry of Health for Community use”. So it follows that:-
1. The title deed to Ndemban belongs to The Government of The Gambia and not to a private individual;
2. Ndeyan will be a hospital owned by the Ministry of Health – and not a private clinic run by individuals for profit.
In those circumstances, my client L-Boy Sanneh is wrong on the facts.
But is he guilty of defamation?
I would submit he is NOT GUILTY, relying on “The Public Interest Defence”. The posting was clearly in the Public Interest because the writer’s honest beliefwas that Ndeyan will become, or is becoming, a privately owned clinic run by private individuals for profit. The people of Bakau are largely clearly poor and would not afford to go to a private clinic run for profit. So it is in the interest of the people of Bakau to argue that Ndeyan should not become a privately owned hospital. L-Boy Sanneh is wrong on the facts, but his argument is clearly in the Public Interest.
In UK, under the 2013 Defamation Act, this is the Public Interest Defence. I am sure Gambian Law is similar to UK Law and would have similar provisions.
Defamation Act 2013, Section 4:
Publication on matter of public interest
(1) It is a defence to an action for defamation for the defendant to show that –
(a) the statement complained of was, or formed part of, a statement on a matter of public interest; and
(b) the defendant reasonably believed that publishing the statement complained of was in the public interest.
(2) Subject to subsections (3) and (4), in determining whether the defendant has shown the matters mentioned in subsection (1), the court must have regard to all the circumstances of the case.
(3) If the statement complained of was, or formed part of, an accurate and impartial account of a dispute to which the claimant was a party, the court must in determining whether it was reasonable for the defendant to believe that publishing the statement was in the public interest disregard any omission of the defendant to take steps to verify the truth of the imputation conveyed by it.
(4) In determining whether it was reasonable for the defendant to believe that publishing the statement complained of was in the public interest, the court must make such allowance for editorial judgement as it considers appropriate.
(5) For the avoidance of doubt, the defence under this section may be relied upon irrespective of whether the statement complained of is a statement of fact or a statement of opinion.
Let L-Boy know that this advise will cost him a plate of Benechin in that restaurant next to the big Bantaba Tree in Bakau.