Cyprian Nyakundu has almost always had his way in defamation cases against him. Either complaints fizzle out or the blogger ignores court orders and the matter is forgotten.
But it’s not business as usual for the ferocious blogger, who has established a reputation in treading where most fear and even, often-times, publishing the unprintable and touching the untouchable.
Victoria Commercial Bank, which claims to have been maliciously targeted by Nyakundi and defamed in the process, has hired Schillings, a top UK law firm, to represent it in the defamation case it has filed in the high court of Kenya against the blogger and his accomplice, Emmanuel Nyamweya Ong’era.
Bank’s bold step
The bank’s managers lured the two into the hands of detectives with a Ksh1 million “down payment” of the Ksh17.5 million they had demanded to pull down the alleged defamatory content from their website and social media pages.
London-based Schillings is renowned for handling reputation management and defamation issues. It is currently representing Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle in their suit against British tabloid Mail on Sunday for publishing a private letter she wrote to her father last year.
The action by Victoria Commercial Bank is seen as a bold step to safeguard its reputation in an overly sensitive banking market where a slight negative sentiment can easily bring down a bank. Also, the case will be taken as a warning shot to bloggers, website owners and so-called social media influencers most of whom have been imagining they are too low to be caught by the law.
Often, most companies have been ignoring negative reporting by this group of information purveyors, who have found survival tools online. Most rely on fears of their victims who pay off to forestall publication or to pull down negative posts. Others are hired by individuals or organizations to ‘fix’ their rivals.
Mr Cyprian Nyakundi and Mr Ong’era were arrested by Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) officers at Westgate Mall, Nairobi, on Monday on allegations of extortion, blackmail and false accusations.
Case against Nyakundi
“Victoria Commercial Bank Ltd has over the last few months been the victim of a sustained campaign of untrue and highly defamatory blog posts,” Mr Yogesh Pattni, the bank’s CEO, said in paid-up advert in the dailies. “We have a solid reputation built consistently built over the last three decades…and therefore do not take these wholly unwarranted and malicious attacks on the bank’s reputation lightly.”
This may have thrown the spanner in the works for Nyakundi and those who fed him with the information aiming to either use it to blackmail VCB management or dent the bank’s standing.
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Mr Pattni indicated that defamation proceedings against Cyprian Nyakundi have commenced at the high court, which on 24th September 2019, had issued an injunction requiring the author to remove the blogs and restrained him from publishing further defamatory content on VCB. Nyakundi reportedly defied the order.
“We chose not to pay money to have the blogs removed but, instead, took the necessary legal steps to defend the bank’s reputation through our counsel, Schillings, a highly reputable British law firm,” Mr Pattni added.
The bank said it has engaged third-party websites that republished the stories to have them removed
Schillings’ past high-profile clients include actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, author JK Rowling, model Naomi Campbell, athlete Lance Armstrong and British billionaire Sir Phillip Green. The company is renowned for helping its elite clients fight cyber-defamation issues in relation to new media.
editor [at] businesstoday.co.ke