PORT VILA (OFO): The editor and publisher of Nasara newspaper, Kalvao Moli, has been ordered by a Vanuatu court to pay Toa Farm managing director Bob Heston 8 million vatu (US$52,000) for damages over defamatory statements made by his paper on 23 February 2000.
Nasara published a front-page story alleging that Heston had sexually abused female employees, was a pervert, destroyed marriages and sent women to Australia for sexual favors.
In his judgment, Justice Coventry stated that there is no evidence to suggest that any of the suggestions were other than outright lies.
He said these factors also demonstrated at the least gross negligence or reckless disregard in the way the article was published.
Justice Coventry pointed out that the defamation was clear and specific.
"There was no attempt to check [the allegations]," he said.
Justice Coventry's judgment was critical of Moli for not showing up in court, for not printing any apology and for not printing a letter from the female employees of Toa Farm who refuted the allegations made in the newspaper after it had been published.
The judgement means that if Nasara cannot pay the damages, the newspaper could face liquidation.
It is also understood that the Nasara's assets is nothing close to 8 million vatu.
Nasara is published twice a week.
PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH ONLINE: http://www.pmw.c2o.org