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England and Wales High Court (Queen's Bench Division) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales High Court (Queen's Bench Division) Decisions >> Umeyor v Nwakamma (Rev 1)  EWHC 2980 (QB) (16 October 2015)
Cite as:  EWHC 2980 (QB)
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QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
| BARTHOLOMEW UMEYOR
|- and -
Darryl Balroop (instructed by Maus Solicitors) for the Defendant
Hearing dates: 12th-14th October 2015
Crown Copyright ©
MR JUSTICE JAY:
Essential Factual Background
"AMOUNT TRANSFER (£): £2420 [i.e. £2,500 less £80 commission and bank charges]
AMOUNT IN NAIRA: 612,260 [at a rate of exchange of 253 Naira/Sterling]
BENEFICIARY IDENTIFICATION: Passport
SENDER FULL NAME: Mbaise Union (UK)
BENEFICIARY FULL NAME: Barry Grandom [mobile phone number given]
BENEFICIARY PICKUP POINT: FINBANK
SENDER'S SIGNATURE: [NONE]
"It is therefore not specified or clear who benefitted from the alleged deposit in an untidy ripped bank teller [sic], no receipts from hotel, nothing about the receipts given were authentic and neither did the President of Mbaise Union make effort to elaborate on these matters. An officer with proper regard would have speedily rendered account even whilst in Nigeria and not wait 3-4 months later. I therefore recommend that this account is rejected and [the Claimant] is mandated to render proper account or refund the Union".
"The dodgy receipts and account of £2,500 medical mission expenses is a serious allegation that you should be defending rather than your removal from office (Your [sic] were not paid and you did not lose any benefits although the use of Mbaise platform to further your personal and political ambitions may have suffered setbacks.) [in italics in original]
I have been compelled to write in response to your petition in which you dedicated about two pages of criticism, twaddle and lies against me. I was hoping that this matter would have gone away but your verbal rhetoric in the last meeting has necessitated my written response. I have highlighted your allegations in bold/italics with my responses underneath.
10. Mbaise Union UK is too precious to most of us here especially our founding fathers to whom I am making my humble request to advice [sic] Sir Felix Nwakama [sic] to let the Union progress
Finally: you were given £2,500 by the Union to go on medical mission 2012. Your remittance receipt was a forgery and read 2011; your bank teller for payment of over 612,000 naira was a forgery the Bank Stamp not legible and no hotel bills or receipts were submitted. I challenge you to prove otherwise. The Executive rejected your accounts submission because all receipts were forged. What do you have to say Mr Bartholomew Umeyor (I am not sure why you address yourself as Sir (or me)? Were you knighted by the Queen?
If you are a true and transparent leader; why did you give us a copy (not original) 2011 receipt for 2012 money transfer? Why did you not obtain acknowledgement receipt from the Hotel in Owerri evidencing that you paid into their account? Why did you use the copy of a teller to pay money into an account stamp was not even visible? Everyone who remits over two thousand pounds must give their name. Mr Umeyor; so who remitted the money you charged Mbaise £80 for with a dude [sic] receipt?"
"The Treasurer (TT) said he was answering the allegations against him in the reply he had sent to [the Claimant]. The President said the Executive was not part of the Reply. The Vice-President said it was right to query the use by the Treasurer of the Union's documents; she assured Members that the Executive did not authorise the reply."
Synopsis of the Issues Arising
Meaning, Imputation and Serious Harm
"I had wanted to go to the bank with [the Claimant] but I was busy and told him to go on his own. I am aware that he paid in the money into the hotel's bank account, and I was present when he gave the receipt to the mission leaders and they thanked him. They eventually gave him a copy of the payment slip. The original of the payment slip was given to the hotel management as they would not accept a photocopy as evidence of payment."
"Careful consideration needs to be given to Mr Caldecott's first proposition that the defence of fair comment should extend to inferences of fact. Jurisprudence both in this jurisdiction and at Strasbourg – see Nilsen and Johnsen v Norway 30 EHRR 878, para 50 – has held that allegations of motive, which is inherently incapable of verification, can constitute comment. Some decisions have gone further and treated allegations of verifiable fact as comment: see for instance the Privy Council in Jeyaretnam v Goh Chok Tong  1 WLR 1109. It is questionable whether this is satisfactory. Prejudiced commentators can draw honest inferences of fact, such as that a man charged with fraud is guilty of fraud. Should the defence of fair comment apply to such inferences? Allegations of fact can be far more damaging, even if plainly based on inference, than comments on true facts. Eady J has twice held that the defence of fair comment cannot apply where the defamatory sting is a matter of verifiable fact: Hamilton v Clifford  EWHC 1542 (QB) and British Chiropractic Association v Singh  EWHC 1101 (QB) (subsequently reversed by the Court of Appeal  1 WLR 133)."