Former President Jerry John Rawlings has sued publishers of Africawatch magazine for defamation and is claiming “aggravated and exemplary damages” among others, for claims he has Parkinson’s disease.
The suit at the High Court in Accra lists six respondents, including General Media Strategies Inc, (the Publisher); Liberty Media Concepts, (the Ghana office of the US-based magazine); and Steve Mallory, (executive editor).
The magazine had in May this year, claimed in a cover story that Parkinson’s was eating Rawlings’ strength away and that there were bleak days ahead of him for which he needed prayers.
But lawyers for the former president say the claim was not only “a blatant falsehood” as he has not been diagnosed with the disease, it was also motivated by malice as the authors did not even bother to verify with him.
Besides, the defendants have also ignored a request to retract the claims and withdraw the further distribution of the publication which was not published under any circumstance of privilege, according to the writ deposed to by Mr Kobina Andoh Amoakwa of the office of the former president.
“Plaintiff states that the said publication was injurious to his reputation as he and his immediate family and his team of staff were inundated with calls from friends and family members all over the country and abroad and harassed by the media following the outbreak of the said story.
“That as an international statesman whose services were sought on the continent and abroad the said publication had the effect of projecting him as unwell and unfit for his much sought after international engagements.”
Rawlings said further that as an international statesman with many high profile engagements, the said publication could affect his earnings and cost him some rights and privileges.
“Plaintiff says that he is in good health and is fit to and does perform all his usual activities like driving, flying among others and that the said publication of the Defendants may cause him to be denied the rights and privileges of a fit pilot including being denied admission into private flying clubs as he may be seen as being unfit.”
Claims against defendants
Claims against the defendants “jointly and severally” are;
- The immediate retraction of the story and an apology with the same prominence given to the story.
- The immediate halt to the further distribution of the said edition of the offensive publication and the publication of the retraction and apology in at least one major newspaper in all the countries listed on the cover of the said magazine as circulation zones, as well as in the next monthly edition of the magazine.
- Aggravated and exemplary damages for defamation.
- Any other order(s) as this honourable court deems fit.