A blogger sued for libel by a Tanzanian media tycoon won her case today (30 November). At the High Court in London, Mr Justice Bean ruled in favour of Sarah Hermitage, who used her Silverdale Farm blog to criticise Reginald Mengi, Executive Chairman of IPP Ltd — a company with significant media interests in Tanzania.
Hermitage and her husband Stuart Middleton were driven from Silverdale Farm in Tanzania by threats and harassment. The court heard Megni’s brother Benjamin took possession of the farm following their departure. A defining factor in the ruling was the hostile coverage of Silverdale Farm by the IPP-owned newspapers. Mengi was ordered to pay £1.2million towards Hermitage’s legal costs.
Hermitage said today:
I set up my Silverdale Farm blog in 2009 to document our horrific experience in Tanzania, and to expose as a warning for others the corruption we encountered and our helplessness with no protection from the local Courts and officials.
To find myself then sued for libel in my own country, facing a claim of legal costs of £300,000 from Mr Mengi before the proceedings had even started, was itself frightening and oppressive.