Uganda’s Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has won an undisclosed sum of money in damages against the Daily Mail of UK over an article that claimed his “cronies” took over 39 billion shillings in foreign aid money.
In the now widely publicized scandal in the Office of the Prime Minister, staff are suspected to have diverted the money meant to facilitate post-war recovery programmes in northern Uganda.
According to the Guardian, Associated Newspapers, the parent organisation that publishes the Daily Mail and Mail Online, has now apologised to Prime Minister Mbabazi at a High Court hearing before Mr Justice Tugendhat in London.
The Court heard that on 31 October 2012, the Daily Mail published an article headed “£10m foreign aid went to cronies of Ugandan PM” and on the same day, MailOnline published an article headed “Britain and Ireland suspend aid to Uganda after £10m of funding ends up in Prime Minister’s account”.
Thestory alleged that Mbabazi had received 10 million Pounds, part of development aid, on his private account. The paper went on to say that that part of the money was used to purchase an official vehicle for the Prime Minister.
The articles in the Daily Mail quoted the 2011 report from the Auditor General as its news source. However the report did not directly point at Amama Mbabazi or any of his aides as being behind the financial loss in the office of the prime minister.
Mbabazi denied ever receiving money on his private account and later instructed Carter-Ruck, a leading law firm in the United Kingdom to take legal action against the media house.
Daily Mail’s Lawyer Julian Durall is quoted by The Guardian as having said that the publisher apologises to the prime minister and that the article has been removed from the MailOnline.
Daily Mail will now part with a substantial sum of money in damages and also cater for all Mbabazi’s legal costs in the suit.
Last year, United Kingdom’s department of foreign aid suspended aid to Uganda following the auditor general’s report that unearthed a string of theft of public funds in the office of the prime minister. Sweden, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland and the World Bank, also suspended aid amounting to 300 million dollars following the scandal.
A key suspect in the disappearance of the money, Geoffrey Kazinda, who was a principal accountant in the office at the time, was recently convicted by the anti-corruption court and sentenced to five years in jail.