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Former minister sues two newspapers for defamation

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 5 May 2009, former Minister of Aviation, Joe Baidoe-Ansah, sued the Graphic Communications Group Limited, publishers of state newspaper "Daily Graphic", and Total Image Publications and Business Centre, publishers of the "Daily Democrat" newspaper, for defamation.

Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that the former minister, who is also a member of parliament, is claiming GHS 300,000 (approx. US$207,000) as damages for publications contained in the two papers and a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from repeating similar libellous publications.

According to the correspondent, on 20 April, the "Daily Graphic" published a story headlined "Last minute agreement halts Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS)'s destination inspection duties." In the story, the paper stated among other things that the former minister, on 28 December 2008 signed a document extending the contract of Destination Inspection Companies (DIC's) by a year. This, the paper said, prevented CEPS from making revenue for the state.

On 29 April, the "Daily Democrat" also published a story accusing the minister of the same offence.

Counsel for Baidoe-Ansah contends that it was impossible for him to have signed the contract referred to in the two publications because at the time the alleged abrogation was made, Baidoe-Ansah was not the Minister of Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiatives, but the Minister of Aviation. The court is yet to fix a date for a hearing.

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