Sorry, says Sky News on stowaway

Thursday November 21 2019
Stowaway pic

In an article published on November 11, Sky News identified Paul Manyasi, reported as an employee of Colnet as “the man who fell from the sky”. PHOTO | COURTESY


The British broadcaster Sky News has apologised to Colnet — a cleaning company based at the JKIA airport — for suggesting man who fell from London skies was one of their employees.

Sky News said Thursday that their reporting on the identity of the stowaway, who fell from a Kenya Airways plane in London in June, was founded on misleading information.

Here is the full statement from Sky News:

Sky News reported last week on the identity of a stowaway who fell from a Kenya Airways plane as it came into land at Heathrow Airport in June.

The report, from Africa correspondent John Sparks, identified the stowaway as Nairobi airport worker Paul Manyasi.

This was based on corroborating interviews with people who identified as friends, relatives and colleagues of Paul Manyasi - including his father.


In an interview with a Kenyan newspaper, that man has now admitted misleading Sky News.

According to the story in Kenyan newspaper the Daily Nation, his son - named in the report as Shivonje Isaac - is alive and on remand in a Kenyan prison.

Sky News regrets that our reporting was founded on misleading information.

The Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority has previously acknowledged that it was possible that the stowaway was an airport employee.

However, we no longer have conclusive evidence that he worked for the cleaning company Colnet and we apologise to Colnet for suggesting the stowaway was one of their employees.

In the Sky News story, their Africa correspondent John Sparks had been taken to the JKIA by a local journalist and a taxi driver, only identified as Kamau, who reportedly told them that a worker at Colnet, a cleaning company, had been missing.


They had also met a woman who told them she worked at the company and gave them photos and the identity of the stowaway.

In Nairobi, Colnet lawyer Rickson Wachira said he would still sue the broadcaster for damaging the reputation of the JKIA-based cleaning company.

Sky News had quoted their source, whom they nicknamed Irene, telling them that she worked with her boyfriend Paul Manyasi at Colnet before he disappeared on July 30 — the day the stowaway fell into a London suburb.

“I miss him a lot,” she is heard saying in the video. Sky News has not revealed the identity of the woman.

“I do not know who gave them my pictures and I do not have a girlfriend named Irene. I’ve never worked at the airport,” said Mr Shivonje in an exclusive interview with the Nation.

Thursday, his lawyer Mr James Mbugua, said he would pursue the case and “get justice for our defamed client. “

The Nation had traced Mr Shivonje to the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison where he was being held in remand after failing to raise a Sh200,000 bail. Before this, he was being held at the Industrial Area Remand Prison in Nairobi.

During the jail interview, Mr Shivonje told the Nation he was arrested on August 7 and remanded on August 13 after being arraigned at Kibera Law Courts.

On June 30—the day the man Sky News identified as Paul Manyasi fell from the plane—Mr Shivonje said he was in Kawangware, where he taught English and Science in a private school.

Detectives in Nairobi have told the Nation that the prints recovered from the stowaway do not match anyone in the civil registry, deepening the mystery surrounding his real identity.