Court reduces Githongo fine for Murungaru graft link to Sh10m



Mr John Githongo, a former Ethics and Governance permanent secretary. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The Court of Appeal has reduced the payment of damages awarded to former minister Christopher Murungaru against former PS John Githongo for linking him to corruption in the Anglo Leasing scandal.

Three judges of the Appellate Court said the payment of Sh27 million for damages was high and slashed the amount to be paid by Dr Githongo to Sh10 million.

Justices Roselyn Nambuye, Patrick Kiage and Sankale ole Kantai, however, agreed with High Court judge Joseph Sergon that the former Ethics and Governance PS could not defend himself using qualified privilege after disseminating the alleged dossier on graft to third parties. 

The judges said Dr Githongo should have restricted the dossier to President Mwai Kibaki and the director of the Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), who were entitled to receive the contents.

“…we find basis for interfering with the award of damages arrived at by the trial court which we find and hold was on the higher side and therefore not commensurate to what in our view would amount to adequate compensation for the injury suffered by the respondent as a result of the impugned defamatory conduct of the appellant,” the judges said.

Dr Murungaru was the Internal Security minister during President Kibaki’s reign but was dropped from the cabinet in 2005.

He sued Dr Githongo saying the former PS disparaged his character by causing the publication of the dossier allegedly linking him to corruption. 

The High Court had faulted him saying he did not take steps to verify the truthfulness of the contents before publishing, conducting interviews, and giving public lectures beyond the original two addressees.

Dr Murungaru sued to say the reports portrayed him as lacking integrity, was dishonest, and was the mastermind of the Anglo-Leasing scandal.

Justice Sergon had awarded him Sh20 million for general damages, Sh5 million for aggravated damages, and a further Sh2 million for exemplary damages.

The judge said Dr Githongo was the originator of the words and had admitted during the hearing of the case that he had no proof that Dr Murungaru had been charged with any corruption cases, or traced any money from corrupt dealings to the minister’s bank accounts.

The Judge concluded that Dr Githongo acted outside his core mandate as a Permanent Secretary advising the President on policies and strategies for fighting corruption and therefore defamed Dr Murungaru. 

The former PS admitted giving interviews on the dossier to several broadcasting stations including BBC and some of the contents were published in 2009 by Michela Wrong in the book titled “It is our Time to Eat” – the story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower”

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