Jonathan Leigh v IMC: Counsel applies for quashing order


April 16, 2015 By Hawa Amara

Lead counsel for plaintiff Jonathan Leigh, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai Esq., yesterday applied for a quashing order in the High Court presided over by Judge A.B. Halloway in a matter between the journalist and the Independent Media Commission (IMC).

Lawyers representing Leigh, who is Managing Editor of the Independent Observer newspaper, had filed a motion at the High Court asking for a quashing order in respect of a ruling by the IMC, which imposed a fine of Le16 million on the newspaper and proprietor after complaint by Sylvia O. Blyden, citing procedural irregularities and excessive fines.

Counsel Abdulai submitted that by act of judicial review, the court should quash the decision of the respondent in a ruling dated 11 February 2015, on the ground that it was “illegal, irregular and excessive in nature”.

He further submitted that the court should grant permission for the case to be argued in court as the respondent had acted in excess of its jurisdiction when the complaint committee of the IMC took a decision it ought not to have taken which affected the applicant, relying on section 29 of the Independent Media Commission Act of 2000.

However, counsel for the defendant, A. Sunni, objected that what was being read by the applicant’s counsel is contrary to section 29 of the said Act.

Judge Halloway adjourned the matter to today for the plaintiff to verify the exact reading of section 29 of the IMC Act.

Jonathan Leigh was summoned before the complaint committee of the IMC after he published a lead story in the 6 February 2015 edition of the Independent Observer newspaper headlined, “Sylvia Blyden says she had sex three times with Rev. Kabs-Kanu”, which the commission considered had touched on many aspects of the Media Code of Practice of 2007.

Accordingly, the committee ruled that the publication had breached five provisions of the IMC Code of Practice of 2007, and levied a fine in excess of Le16 million.