Further Award of Substantial Damages in ‘Campaign of Denigration’

Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has welcomed a second award of substantial damages in the United Kingdom for a serious libel by Elias Kifle. The judge again rejected false claims, made on the Ethiopian Review website, by Mr. Kifle about a wholly untrue claim of involvement in human trafficking. The judge, The Hon. Mr. Justice Eady, awarded the substantial sum of £180,000 as damages, higher than the previous award in June 2011 by £5,000, noting that very significant damage had been done to Sheikh Al Amoudi’s reputation. The Sheikh was present in court.

Mr. Justice Eady noted that the defendants had chosen not to engage with the proceedings and had not produced any evidence of the allegations. In his Approved Judgment, Mr. Justice Eady stated: “the first defendant [Elias Kifle] is determined, for some reason, to conduct a campaign of denigration by making defamatory allegations about the claimant, some of which are quite outlandish, without ever having to face the claimant in court or making any attempt to support his charges”. He added that the allegations were “truly shocking and obviously seriously defamatory” and that “as to the seriousness of the allegations, there can be no doubt. It is indeed difficult to imagine a more serious or gross allegation.”

With regard to the high level of damages, the judge said, “The purpose of libel damages is well-known and is really threefold. First of all, to compensate the relevant claimant for hurt feelings and distress; secondly, to serve as a sign of vindication; and, thirdly, to provide compensation for any actual injury to reputation. Awards must be proportionate and no greater than is necessary to achieve those objectives.” He concluded, “Taking those matters into account and bearing in mind the principles outlined in the case of John v. MGN Ltd, it seems to me that the appropriate figure in this case is £180,000.” The judge also granted indemnity costs.