Uganda PM wins libel case against UK paper

Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has accepted substantial damages from Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper after it falsely claimed he and his “cronies” siphoned off millions of dollars of foreign aid, London’s High Court heard yesterday.

Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has accepted substantial damages from Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper after it falsely claimed he and his “cronies” siphoned off millions of dollars of foreign aid, London’s High Court heard yesterday.

The paper has also issued a public apology over two stories it published and on its web site last year, entitled: “£10m foreign aid went to cronies of Ugandan PM” and “Britain and Ireland suspend aid to Uganda after £10m of funding ends up in Prime Minister’s account.”

Britain suspended all aid to East African country in November after Uganda’s auditor general found that $12.7 million of aid from Western donors had been funnelled into officials’ bank accounts.

But it was staff in Mbabazi’s office who came under suspicion rather than the prime minister himself as reported by the Mail, which runs one of the world’s most popular news web sites.

Solicitor Andrew Stephenson told the court: “In fact, on October 19, 2012, the Ugandan Auditor General produced a report which revealed irregularities, fraud and forgery on the part of staff working within the Office of the Prime Minister.

“As the defendant accepts, there was no suggestion in the Auditor General’s report that the claimant was responsible for, or benefited from, the theft of the money from the Office of the Prime Minister,” the court said.

Mbabazi has accepted substantial undisclosed damages from the Mail’s publisher Associated Newspapers, the court heard, while the articles have been taken down from its web site.

MailOnline recorded more than 120 million unique visits from users around the world last month, according to figures released last week by the British media monitor, ABC.

Besides Britain, Denmark, Norway and Ireland also suspended millions of dollars of funding to Uganda over the missing aid, which was meant to go to parts of the country ravaged by civil war.

Uganda has repaid some of the misappropriated funding to donors, including Sweden and Norway.

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