Court extends orders barring BBC from linking Wetang’ula to BAT bribery claims

Monday March 14 2016

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula at the Milimani Law Courts on January 19, 2016.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula at the Milimani Law Courts on January 19, 2016. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MAUREEN KAKAH
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A High Court judge on Monday extended orders barring international media house BBC from publishing reports linking Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula to bribery claims involving British American Tobacco Company.

This came after the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) told the court that its lawyers had not yet filed their responses to the suit, as required of them, but were intending to do so before close of business on Monday.

A lawyer representing the BBC said the documents containing responses to the suit were ready but needed to be signed at their London office before they are filed at the High Court at the Milimani Law Court's civil division.

“BBC to file their responses within seven days and then let this matter be mentioned on March 22 to confirm compliance but the interim orders are hereby extended,” said Justice Roselyne Aburili.

In January, the court was told that the BBC had declined to receive court documents regarding the case when Mr Wetang’ula’s lawyer, Mr James Orengo, had them delivered to their Nairobi office at Longonot Place via courier services.

Though the Nairobi office had declined to receive the documents, the court was also told that it acknowledged receiving a demand letter written to them prior to the filing of the case.

The Senate minority leader sued the media house on December 23, 2015 for linking him to corruption deals involving BAT.

Mr Wetang’ula faulted BBC World News Service programme "Panorama" for portraying him as having solicited the purchase of an airline ticket to London for his wife and bribed public officials, MPs and people working in a rival company.

He claimed that the news story titled "The secret bribes of big tobacco" largely portrayed him to be corruptly involved with BAT.

The opposition leader also claimed that the story, which was televised and published on November 30, has continued to circulate through a multitude of electronic and print media, including social media.

Mr Wetang'ula alleged that the BBC’s programme has allegedly destroyed his 18-year reputation as an MP, a Cabinet minister for Foreign Affairs and also Trade.

He also claimed it destroyed his reputation considering that he has attended high-level meetings at the United Nations, the African Union and other various global as well as regional bodies.