The publisher of the Hot Pepper Newspaper, and formerly National Chronicle Newspaper, Phillipbert Browne, was sent to jail on Friday at the Monrovia Central Prison on the orders of the Sixth Judicial Civil Law Court for ‘Action of Damages for Libel’ against Bong County District #2 Representative Prince Moye, who is the plaintiff.
Rep. Moye is the Chairman of the House Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Development and an Executive Member of the House of Representatives.
Browne was thrown in prison on the orders of Resident Judge Yusiff D. Kaba for failure to post bail against the plaintiff’s complaint or pay damages to plaintiff in an amount of no less than US$5million.
The Writ of Summons also commanded the Sheriff to arrest Alfred G. Togbah, Publisher of the People’s Newspaper, Jah H. Johnson of the Hot Pepper Newspaper and Windell McIntoch of Margibi County, and jail them should they also fail to post bail or show property (ies) to cover the plaintiff’s damages.
According to the plaintiff’s complaint, a copy of which is in our reporters’ possession, prior to the defendants publishing the libelous story on numerous occasions, Rep. Moye was reportedly threatened by text messages from Togbah and McIntosh allegedly extorting money and blackmailing him under the guise that “there was a damaging story against the plaintiff and that plaintiff would cause the story to go away if the plaintiff could buy the story from the defendants, and the failure of plaintive to give what was demanded by the defendants, there (would) be newspaper publications defaming the plaintiff.”
“Plaintiff says as a result of his refusal to succumb to the co-defendants, Togbah and McIntosh’s demands and blackmail scheme, the defendants, Philip Bright Brown, Publisher, Hot Pepper; Alfred G. Togbah, Publisher, People’s Newspaper; Jah H. Johnson, writer, Hot
Pepper; and Wendell McIntosh, published newspaper stories in two newspapers on separate occasions against the plaintiff, which lacked elements of truth and were only intended to defame, tarnish, degrade, embarrass, inconvenience, and cause the plaintiff emotional
distress, mental anguish, frustration, and degradation, pain and sufferings,” the writ said.
The story was carried under the title, “Lawmaker Allegedly Rapes Teenage Girl” – “Victim’s Mother Vows to Pursue Legal Actions,” But Rep. Moye Rebuffs the Claim.”
The Writ of Summons charged the defendants “for blackmail scheme and engaging in publishing libelous and untrue and defaming stories against the plaintiff in these proceedings. Plaintiff says that the sole intent of the co-defendant’s action is to seriously defame and tarnish the good earned reputation of the Plaintiff.”
As for the publisher of the People’s Newspaper, Alfred Togbah, the writ said the co-defendant “purposely, recklessly, and with absolute disregard to decency and social norms and values, as well as journalistic ethics, decided to malign, defame, tarnish the good earned reputation of the plaintiff through blackmail for the purpose of tarnishing, degrading, stigmatizing the plaintiff in the eyes of the plaintiff’s admirers.”
The writ said co-defendant Jah H. Johnson is also a member of the blackmail scheme.
The writ said co-defendant Wendell McIntosh was the mastermind of the blackmail scheme against the plaintiff. It is alleged that McIntosh had written unfounded stories against the plaintiff in several newspaper publications, all intended to defame the plaintiff for their own political objectives.