Tanzanian media owner faces £1.9 libel costs payment

A Tanzanian businessman and media owner who is suing a British woman for defamation over blog posts and emails must make a payment into court for security of costs amounting to the defence's full budget and the 100 per cent "success fee" provided for in her no-win, no-fee Conditional Free Agreement (CFA), a High Court judge has decided.

Mr Justice Tugendhat held that Ms Hermitage was entitled to an order that Reginald Mengi should pay into court sufficient to cover all Ms Hermitage's estimated costs, including the 100 per cnet CFA success fee, which it was estimated would amount to more than £1.9 million.

Mengi claims Ms Hermitage defamed him in online publications and in some e-mails which he says mean that he lied when he gave various assurance to the British High Commissioner in Tanzania, and which also mean that he openly supported corruption.

Mengi says in his particulars of claim that, among other things, he is chairman of the Media Owners of Tanzania, and executive chairman of IPP Ltd, a company whose subsidiaries publish a number of newspapers and operate TV and radio stations, and which also owns a firm which imports and markets the products of the Coca Cola Company in northern Tanzania.

Ms Hermitage and her husband previously lived in Tanzania, but now live in England.

In 2004, through a company named Silverdale Tanzania Limited, she and her husband bought a lease to properties known as Silverdale and Mbono Farms – the vendor or assignor was a company controlled by Benjamin Mengi, the claimant's brother.

Ms Hermitage and her husband abandoned their investment in the farms in 2008 following a dispute with Benjamin Mengi, and left Tanzania.

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