Brit Journalist to sue South Africa’s Police Commissioner on defamation charges

Sunday, July 11, 2010

CAPE TOWN - A British journalist, Simon Wright, of the Sunday Mirror, who had been accused of trying to undermine World Cup security is considering suing South Africa’s Police Commissioner Bheki Cele for making defamatory remarks about him.

According to Sports 24, Wright paid a R750 fine on Saturday after admitting to breaking South Africa’s immigration law in exchange for prosecutors’ agreement not to pursue the case further.

The police accused Wright of helping to orchestrate an attempt to undermine World Cup security after a man, Pavlos Joseph, found his way into England’s change room at Cape Town Stadium after a 0-0 draw between England and Algeria in June.

Wright had wanted to protect his “exclusive interview” with Joseph about trespassing the England team’s change room.

During a media briefing outside the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court, his attorney, William Booth, informed of the possibility of a civil action against Cele.

Booth said the admission of guilt was an administrative act, and did not amount to a criminal conviction.

Immigration Act violation was a mere “technical misdemeanour” and that Wright’s reason for booking Joseph into the hotel under the assumed name had been to put other media off Joseph’s scent.

Wright said he had “merely pursued a good story,” which had been an embarrassment for the authorities.

Meanwhile, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa welcomed the outcome of the case, saying it represented “a major victory, not only for the criminal justice system but for the country as a whole”.

“Wright’s admission of guilt is indicative that some journalists will do anything to get a story, even commit(ing) a criminal act,” he said. (ANI)

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