U.S. based Ghanaian lawyer, Prof Stephen Asare, known popularly as Prof Azar, has predicted that a defamation lawsuit by Assin Central MP, Ken Agyapong, against U.S-based controversial journalist, Kevin Taylor, will not fly.
According to the Professor of Accounting, it will be a tall order for Mr Agyapong to prove he had indeed been defamed as claimed in his suit.
He described the "Agyapong v Taylor et al” as an interesting 3-count civil suit alleging Defamation, Defamation per se and Violation of Virginia Computer Crime's Act.
The outspoken Ghanaian MP is seeking relief in the form of an apology, injunction and damages in excess of $10 million.
Ken Agyapong is alleging that Mr Taylor, the defendant, has on multiple occasions falsely claimed on his media platform that he is a "murderer," "drug dealer," "drug addict," "thief," and "green card fraudster."
Prof Azar made the following analysis about the suit:
"Agyapong further alleges that these false and defamatory statements have caused severe harm to his personal, business, and political reputation. He has also suffered severe embarrassment and personal humiliation due to Taylor's defamatory statements.
"It will be interesting to see how far this suit goes where Americafuo courts, unlike Ghanafuo courts, require a showing of actual malice by the defendant in defamation suits brought by public figures.
"Actual malice requires the plaintiff to show by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant either knew the defamatory statement was false or acted with reckless disregard as to whether or not it was true.
"Further, were the plaintiff able to show that he is not a public figure, the actual malice standard will still apply if the defamatory statements regard matters of public concern.
"Carrying the actual malice burden is so onerous that it effectively prevents public figures from pursuing defamation claims.
"On the other hand, a private person suing on a matter of private concern need only show that the defendant was negligent. Negligence is a lower standard because it requires the plaintiff to only show that a reasonable person would have known that the impugned statement is false.
"You might be wondering why the status of the plaintiff matters. Why do the courts appear less willing to protect the reputation of public figures?
"The courts have reasoned that it is in Americafuo's best interest to openly discuss such figures. For instance, the courts believe that Americafuo would be worse off if their politicians could prevent disclosure of corruption by threatening a defamation lawsuit.
"Moreover, such public figures generally have much greater access to the media and can use that access to rebut the defamatory statements. Private citizens have less access and thus are more likely to need the courts to defend their reputation.
"Another reason why status matters is that public figures seek out public attention and must accept the attention that they get, whether good or bad.
"Do not be perplexed by Counts 1 and 2. The latter arises where the alleged defamatory statement is so inherently damaging that damages are presumed to exist from the mere fact the statement was made. That is, in Count 2 plaintiff does not need to prove damages while damages must be proven in Count 1.
"Falsely accusing someone of committing an infamous crime will be an example of the type of statement that may very well trigger a claim for defamation per se.
"Count 3 is also an interesting one because it is unclear that the Act in question creates a civil cause of action.
"Ghanafuo who hold the LLB can take the New Yorkfuo Bar exam, but cannot take the Ghanafuo Bar exam. Only the moribund GLC can explain that absurdity.”
Meanwhile, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central has on several occasions verbally abused and defamed a lot of people in Ghana.
Kennedy Agyapong has used his media networks, Net 2 TV and Oman FM, to call the mother of Mr Taylor, prostitute and his father, a fraudster.
Mr Taylor in retaliation called him, a "murderer," "drug dealer," "drug addict," "thief," and "green card fraudster."
From the late Jerry John Rawlings, late John Evans Atta Mills, John Mahama, Ibrahim Mahama, Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, KwekuBaako, AnasAremeyawAnas, Justice Amos Wuntah Wuni, a Justice of the Accra High Court, have at various times tasted the acidic tongue of Kennedy Agyapong.
Even those in his party, notably; former President John Agyekum Kufuor, ex-Chief of Staff, KwadwoMpianim, former Transport Minister Richard Anane, former General Secretary of NPP,Kwabena Agyapong, ex-Chairman, Paul Afoko ex-Vice Chairman ofNPP, Sammy Crabbe and others, have all been verbally abused and defamed severally; but it appears the celebrated bully cannot take a hit himself.
While some were verbally abused by Mr Agyapong, others were threatened with physical harm.
Many others were also called corrupt politicians and illicit drug dealers by the same man.
Owner and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Multimedia Group, Kwesi Twum, was called a drug dealer by Mr Agyapong.
Ken Agyapong has the following suits against him:
- Anas Aremeyaw Anas V Kennedy Agyapong (should have resumed in November but adjourned to December on defendant' excuse letter);
- Kwesi Twum, Multimedia & V Kennedy Agyapong;
- Justice Kweku Annan, Senyo Hosi v Kennedy Agyapong (resumes);
- Asante-Appeatu (IGP Rtd) V Justice Kweku Annan of Net2 TV (ongoing);
- Zein V Kennedy Agyapong;
- Joseph Yammin V Kennedy Agyapong;
- Ato Forson V Kennedy Agyapong;
- Cicil Garbrah V Kennedy Agyapong;
- Ivy Howard Mills V Kennedy Agyapong;
- Kweku Baako V Kennedy Agyapong is currently on appeal.