Nicholas Biwott set record in libel claims

In two years, Biwott got a total of Sh67.5 million from four cases where he had sued a number of individuals and firms. (Photo: Standard)

Nicholas Biwott earned a place in Kenyan legal history as the man who received the highest awards for being defamed. 

In two years, Biwott got a total of Sh67.5 million from four cases where he had sued a number of individuals and firms, among them a British pathologist, two bookshops and The People Daily.

His complaint against the defendants was that they had defamed him by publishing and distributing defamatory material.

The reports had linked Biwott, also known as Total Man, to the killing of former Foreign Affairs Minister Robert Ouko and corruption in Turkwel Gorge Hydro-electric dam.

He drew the first blood in a suit against British pathologist Iain West and journalist Chester Stern, who were ordered to pay him Sh30 million over a book by the former, linking Biwott to Dr Ouko’s death.

Court of Appeal judge Alnassir Visram, then a Commissioner of Assize, slapped the two with a Sh15 million penalty each for failing to apologise to Biwott after publishing the book.

Dr West was part of the Scotland Yard detectives who investigated the murder of Ouko.

Justice Visram, in his verdict, noted that investigations into the death of Ouko was never resolved and thus the authors were guilty of defamation for concluding that Biwott was the man behind the murder.

The same book, which was published by UK’s Clays Limited and Little Brown & Company Limited, haunted two Kenyan bookshops – Bookpoint and Bookstop. For selling the controversial book, the bookshops were ordered to pay Total Man Sh5 million each.

In 2002, Text Book Centre was also in trouble for selling a book published by former American Ambassador to Kenya Smith Hempstone, which was also linked Biwott to Ouko’s death. Text Book Centre was also ordered to offer an apology for selling the book titled Rogue Ambassador and further pay Biwott Sh7.5 million as damages.

At the sunset of Kanu’s rule in 2002, Biwott was gifted Sh20 million from People Daily newspaper after it published a defamatory article against him touching on Turkwel hydro-electric dam.