Former legal adviser to former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika wants the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to pay him compensation over character defamation for claiming that he was a fugitive in England over treason allegations in Malawi.
Published reports indicate that Ntata – through his lawyers Spring and Co Solicitors – wrote BBC on December 3, 2013 last year, demanding damages, an injunction restraining BBC from publishing same or similar statement in future, remove the articles which injured him, write a corrective article to limit the damage of malicious publication and costs.
He states that on March 13 2013, BBC published an article titled ‘Peter Mutharika and others on Malawi treason charges’ in which it claimed that Ntata was charged in absentia, according to the claim.
“This statement is untrue as our client was not charged with treason and has not been charged with treason to date,” the statement said.
Lawyers representing Ntata told BBC that the he has never received “any formal communication from the government and/or the prosecuting authorities regarding treason or any related charges.”
The letter claims that Ntata visited Malawi for six weeks between July and August last year and he moved freely within Malawi and returned to UK without receiving any question from Malawian authorities.
The BBC article, according to Ntata’s lawyers, therefore, portrayed him as a criminal seeking refuge in the UK.
“You stated that 11 others have been charged with him, including (former) Economic Planning minister Goodall Gondwe and former presidential adviser Allan Ntata, who was charged in absentia as he is believed to be in the UK. Our client repeats that the statement relating to him being a ‘coup plotter’ and ‘being charged in absentia’ is untrue,” the statement reads in part.
He also denied that BBC had an interview with Ntata on the same allegations.