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Lawyer takes umbrage with Standard Times publication

…demands full retraction

SEPTEMBER 4, 2014 By Abu-Bakarr Sheriff

 

Freetown-based lawyer, Segepoh Solomon Thomas Esq., has taken umbrage with a publication in the Standard Times newspaper, which he said left him “disappointed” as it gave a “lame impression” of his hard-earned professional image in society, and urged a “full front page retraction” by the newspaper.

The article in question, published in the Standard Times newspaper on 26th August, 2014, was headlined: “LAWYER EARMARK LE500, 000,000/00 FOR FAYIA CORNER-DEATH CERTIFICATE FOR A LIVING CHILD”.

“In that publication your paper, with great strain, sought to tell your reading public that two separate death certificates were issued by the Registrar of Births and Deaths on a certain ‘Sahr Fayia to pave the way for a High Court decision for the sale of No.8 Main Motor Road, Brookfields, Freetown popularly known as Fayia Corner’, and you then proceeded to place me at the centre of it all, giving a lame impression about my person,” said the lawyer-cum-parliamentarian in a letter to the newspaper yesterday.

The young barrister and solicitor said he acted professionally and with due diligently in a matter of an application for a sale of property located at No.8 Main Motor Road, Brookfields, Freetown, involving his client, Seer Fayia, plaintiff, deceased, and a certain Charles Tamba Fayia, the defendant, who had apparently fed the newspaper with certain erroneous facts about the case, including claiming he is “Sahr Fayia” although court papers he had sworn affidavit to refer to him as “Charles Tamba Fayia”.

The High Court, presided by Justice D.B. Edwards, had ruled in favour of the plaintiff prior to her sudden death, that she is the sole surviving fee simple owner and person entitled to the property at No.8 Main Motor Road, and ordered that the property be sold “at a reserve price of Le400,000,000/00 (four hundred million Leones), while Mr. Thomas, being solicitor of the plaintiff, should have “immediate possession of the land and hereditaments” until the property was sold.

Also, the defendant was granted one-fourth of the sale of the property, which is yet to be sold, with liberty to apply.

Mr. Thomas told Concord Times yesterday that he was in his constituency in Bonthe District sensitizing his constituents on the Ebola outbreak when Mr. Philip Neville, Executive Editor of Standard Times, called to enquire about the case, but he offered to proffer his version of events upon return to Freetown because “I was in the middle of a sensitization”.

However, “Mr. Neville went ahead to publish,” he said, “although what a prudent journalist would ordinarily have done was to have gotten his information right by proper cross checking of the details before publication….”

He said he had embarked on providing the “facts” in his letter to Mr. Neville, adding: “Although I believe you should have cross-checked the details before publication I have offered to let you know what you should have known had you been a little diligent.”

He concluded his letter thus: “…whilst I wait to advice myself as to my next line of action I would urge you to do a full front page retraction of the content of your publication to not only inform my decision but to create the right kind of impression about the Standard Times Newspaper to your reading public.”

Meanwhile, the letter was yesterday served on Mr. Neville, and no fewer than 18 copies dispatched to the Sierra Leone Bar Association, Council of Legal Education, Independent Media Commission, Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, and editors and proprietors of newspapers.