John Githongo to pay Murungaru Sh10m over Anglo Leasing

Former Governance and Ethics Permanent Secretary John Githongo (pictured) will pay former Internal Security Minister Chris Murungaru Sh10 million for defamation.

The High Court had awarded Mr Murungaru Sh27 million, before the Court of Appeal revised the amount to Sh10 million following Mr Githongo's appeal. Mr Murungaru sued Mr Githongo for linking him to the multibillion Anglo Leasing scandal which was revealed in 2004.

Court of Appeal judges Roselyn Nambuye, Patrick Kiage, and Sankale Ole Kantai, in their ruling, said Mr Githongo failed to verify whether his claims against Mr Murungaru were true.

They affirmed High Court judge Joseph Sergon’s finding, noting that Mr Githongo had admitted he was not aware if Mr Murungaru had been charged in court over Anglo Leasing or for any crime.

“On malice, we find the judge’s finding that the appellant's publication and republication of the impugned matter to third parties beyond the two original addressees as actuated by actual malice well-founded on the appellant’s own admission on oath in his cross-examination that he was not aware of any criminal charges brought against the respondent (Murungaru) with regard to the alleged corruption allegations nor of any money forming proceeds acquired through corrupt practices engaged in by the respondent traced into the respondent’s accounts,” the bench ruled.

In a battle that lasted 17 years, the court also indicted Mr Githongo for relying on hearsay.

According to the three judges, the former PS alleged that he got information from Mr Murungaru’s colleagues who he failed to name, and or call to testify, that the former minister was corrupt.

“Neither was he aware of any corruption charges preferred against the respondent by the Anti-Corruption Commission. There is also evidence on the record demonstrating that the appellant never made any efforts to verify the truthfulness of the contents before publication,” they observed.

Githongo had appealed Justice Sergon’s verdict arguing it was a fair comment but admitted authoring the Githongo Dossier and officially communicating it to the then president and the Director of the Anti-Corruption Commission.