Justice Isatou Janneh of the Bundung High Court yesterday dismissed the contempt suit filed by Melville Roberts against The Standard newspaper and its reporter Aisha Tamba.

She also awarded costs of D20,000 to both the newspaper and the reporter.

On September 12 last year, Malick Jallow, lawyer for Mr Roberts filed a motion asking the court to grant him leave to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the newspaper and the reporter; for the two to show why they should not be cited for contempt of court proceedings; and to impose such costs as it may deem fit.

Both lawyer Jallow and lawyer Abdoulie Fatty representing The Standard and Miss Tamba filed affidavits before the courts.

According to the judge, the brief facts that gave rise to the application are that Melville filed an appeal against the judgement of the Kanifing Children’s Court dated 14 April 2022. The reporter made a publication from his appeal submission with the caption “Melville appeals after losing custody of his child.”

Roberts then filed a suit alleging that the content of the publication detailed substance of the appeal, is inimical to the best interest of the child and also is in conflict with the law.

Lawyer Jallow in his submission further argued that the publication contains information that has potential to lead to the identification of the child.

In response, Lawyer Fatty argued that Section 73 of the Children’s Act is not applicable in the High Court because under the interpretation section, court means the children’s court.  

In her ruling Justice Janneh stated that although it is a punishable offence under the Children’s Act to publish information that may lead to the identification of a child, a violation of Section 73 of the Children’s Act cannot in the court’s view be regarded as or fall within the species of contempt of court especially when her court has not made an order or caution restricting the publication of proceedings before it.

She added that the court’s position may have been different if there was an order made by it restricting publication.

The judge ruled that it is the court’s view that The Standard and its reporter Miss Tamba by their publication did not act in contempt of the court.

 “Considering the process that initiated this application, the court is not in position to make a pronouncement on whether the publication made by the respondents violates Section 73 of the Children’s Act as argued by the applicant’s counsel. In view of the above, the applicant application fails. Accordingly the motion on notice is dismissed with a cost of D20,000 to each of the respondents.”


Responding to the news, The Standard managing director, Baba Sheriff Bojang, who deposed the affidavit and appeared in the court on behalf of his company, said Lawyer Abdoulie Fatty did “a sterling job” in representing The Standard and Miss Tamba and thumbed up the expedited judicial process.

He added: “Talibeh Hydara, the editor on duty on the day of the publication did a diligent job and ensured that the name of the child, the name of the mother, address and even the gender of the child were withheld from publication. We bore no ill will or malice to Mr Roberts. In fact we put our head over the parapet during a scandal he was involved in sometime ago and gave him the prompt right to reply for allegations made against him for which we took a lot of flak from the AG’s Chambers to feminist activists.”

Source: The Standard

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