Court issues gag order on Nation media in Sportpesa's defamation suit

The High Court has gagged the media house until the case is heard and determined.

In Summary

• High Court Judge Joseph Sergon has issued a gag order on Nation Media Group and Paul Ndungu while reviewing the case’s merits.

• SportPesa has filed a defamation lawsuit against Nation Media Group for intentionally damaging the brand and causing personal and business harm 

SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri.
SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri.

Nation Media Group has been stopped from publishing any story on SportPesa over alleged malice and intentional defamatory content in a case where two of its senior reporters have also been sued in their individual capacity. 

High Court Judge Joseph Sergon gagged the media house until the case is heard and determined.  

"A temporary injunction be and is hereby issued restraining the responded t from publishing, republishing, either by themselves, their Servants and or agents from writing, authoring, publishing, republishing, broadcasting a d or referring to the applicants in any manner whatsoever adverse to the applicant's reputation and standing and which ridicules or portrays the applicants negatively in the eyes of the general public...," a Penal Notice by deputy registrar of the High Court, Nairobi, reads.

A former SportPesa chairman Paul Ndungu has also been sued by the betting brand’s rights holder in Kenya – Milestone Games Ltd - for contributing to the malicious and damaging content that cost the company loss of business opportunities, customers and reputation and for violating their constitutional rights.  

Ndungú who fell out with his fellow shareholders when the brand was under Pevans East Africa, is seen in one of the clips by NMG stating that he was working with ‘criminals’ – allegations the plaintiffs stated are not supported by any evidence.

The NMG has over the last few years published several stories on SportPesa which, according to the suit by the company, had no factual basis and were targeted at ruining the business.

The defendants were motivated by extreme malice and spite against the plaintiffs in writing, printing, uttering, publishing, republishing and broadcasting the offending words which were not only false but were also highly defamatory of the plaintiffs and were intended to malign the plaintiffs image and business standing and activities in Kenya and the entire world,” states the plaintiffs.   

SportPesa has indicated that 300 workers lost their jobs in Kenya as a direct result of the damages caused by the continued malicious reporting and publications of the articles by Nation Media Group.  

The company is seeking damages for the business lost due to the alleged malice, slander, libel as well as for the loss of future business opportunities and damages for the plaintiff’s rights among others. 

In court papers filed on January 31 and certified as urgent, the global betting brand through its current brand rights holder Milestone Games Ltd, is accusing the NMG of consistently defaming the brand and some of its directors, in a series of online, print and TV news pieces without following good journalistic practices and the established media code of conduct.   

The said publications were malicious, defamatory and oppressive of the plaintiffs and were calculated and meant to and did actually degrade, injure, disparage the plaintiffs business, reputations, and exposed the plaintiffs to public hatred, ridicule, scandal, odium and kindred feelings among the members of the local and international business society, partners, possible investors and business associates in general thereby causing the plaintiffs loss of business, loss of trust in its brand name and loss of future business opportunities.”  

Furthermore, the use of the plaintiffs’ images and pictures and or photos in their defamatory publications for commercial purposes is a violation of the plaintiffs’ right to privacy and dignity contrary to Articles 31, 28 and 40 of the Constitution.  

SportPesa, a renowned global brand that was once a major investor in local sports, said the publications by the defendants insinuated blame where none was ever established and it did so without any factual basis.  

It further accuses the eight defendants of using words in their various publications that were presented as facts when they were not.   

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