Fiji Times Update
Report by: Devendra Narayan
The country’s oldest newspaper, the Fiji Times has agreed to pay costs to the Attorney General’s Office for a contempt of court article it published in its newspaper.
The Fiji Times Limited, Editor, Fred Wesley and former Publisher, Brian O’Flaherty were found guilty on one count of contempt of court.
The Newspaper scandalised the judiciary by publishing an article in November last year which contained a comment allegedly made by Oceania Football Confederation secretary-general Tai Nicholas about Fiji’s judiciary.
The article was written by a New Zealand journalist and was published in a New Zealand newspaper before being reprinted in The Fiji Times the next day.
FIFA Proves Doc was the title of the story published by the Fiji Times on the 7th of November last year questioning Fiji’s judiciary and its independence.
Fiji Times lawyer, John Apted told Justice Willam Calanchini that the Chief Editor was unaware of the story that was published and it was entirely up to the sports editor who due to time constraints and no show of some staff admitted he didn’t read the article.
Apted says on that day the Editor Fred Wesley wasn’t at work.
In his mitigation submission, Apted once again asked for forgiveness from the court on behalf of his client.
He also told the court that the Fiji Times has agreed to publish an apology on the front page of the newspaper.
He says the Fiji Times is a very good corporate citizen and is working for the communities and a good example is the publishing of the Nai Lalakai and Shanti Dutt vernacular despite making losses.
Apted says the Fiji Times is now providing training to its staff even by the lawyers and all of the stories for the day are being highlighted in the newsroom meetings.
The second article was published in June but by then the former Publisher, O’Flaherty was out of the country.
Apted says the court can consider the second article as an aggravating factor.
He then says there is an apology from Wesley and Fiji Times Limited for the second article that was published.
He says the Fiji Times has been convicted for contempt of court twice and it is appropriate to impose a sentence to deter such activities in future.
Acting Solicitor General, Sharvada Nand Sharma asked that Publisher Hank Arts be given a three months suspended sentence due to his medical condition and six months prison sentence for Fred Wesley the current Editor.
He adds the Fiji Times should be liable for all the costs.
Justice Calanchini says the two parties should submit an indemnity cost or a party to party cost before he makes his judgment.
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