The Daily Monitor, one of Uganda’s leading newspapers, has agreed to pay a hefty sum of 300M Uganda Shillings to the country’s President, Yoweri Museveni, in a landmark settlement of a defamation lawsuit, New Vision first reported.
The lawsuit was filed by President Museveni against the Daily Monitor newspaper following its publication of a story in February 2021, titled “Museveni Inner Circle Got Covid Jabs – US Paper,” which alleged that the President and those close to him had received the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine ahead of health workers and vulnerable groups.
Through his lawyers at K&K Advocates, President Museveni argued that the story, based on a report in the US newspaper The Wall Street Journal, was false and had tarnished his reputation among right-thinking members of society.
In the suit, President Museveni contended that the story implied that he had neglected his duties and obligations to frontline health workers fighting Covid-19 and other vulnerable groups, and was therefore unfit to hold the high office of the President.
READ MORE: LoP Mathias Mpuuga Demands 200M From Daily Monitor Over Article Linking Him To ‘Deals’ With Government Officials
High Court Judge Musa Ssekaana, who presided over the case, had earlier urged the Daily Monitor and President Museveni to settle the dispute out of court, but the newspaper was adamant about defending its story. [Read more about this here].
However, in an unexpected turn of events, the Daily Monitor has admitted to the falsity of the story and apologized to President Museveni for any distress, embarrassment, ridicule, and humiliation caused by its publication.
“ We have established that the story was false and there was no factual basis for its publication. We have further confirmed that the allegation of secret vaccination in advance of health workers and other vulnerable groups was not made by The Wall Street Journal in its story. We unreservedly apologize to H.E President Yoweri Museveni Kaguta Museveni and all those affected by the publication for the distress, embarrassment, ridicule, and humiliation caused by the false publication.”The Newspaper said.
This unexpected concession by the Daily Monitor represents a dramatic shift in its previously unwavering stance of defending its stories at all costs.
READ MORE: Is Defamation About Reputations Anymore?
The newspaper’s apology and admission of falsehood have dealt a significant blow to its reputation and credibility, especially given that it concedes the story was not just false but actually made up as the Wall Street Journal’s investigation did not include claims of secretive vaccination for Museveni and allies.
The settlement between the Daily Monitor and President Museveni comes just a few months after the High Court ordered the newspaper to pay 450M to the Judiciary Permanent Secretary over a separate defamation case but nonetheless related as it touches on allegations of corruption.
The Daily Monitor’s latest legal setback underscores the need for media outlets to exercise utmost caution and diligence in their reporting, lest they risk legal action and costly settlements that could cripple their operations.
Benjamin Ahikiiriza is a Professional Legal Writer And Digital Communications And Marketing Specialist Focused on Helping Lawyers, Law Firms And the Legal Sector Leverage Digital Communication Tools to Achieve Their Goals.
He is the Founder and Chief Editor of the LegalReports Website.
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