Press Complaints Commission finds newspaper libeled priest in sex sting

The Nairobian and KTN staged fake honeytrap sting to blackmail Anglican minister

The Kenyan Press Complaints Commission has ordered a tabloid newspaper, The Nairobian, and the Kenya Television Network (KTN) to apologize for defaming an Anglican minister by broadcasting and publishing stories false stories that he had engaged in an adulterous tryst with a woman in a hotel room.

On 3 October 2014 the BBC published a report stating the Rev. Charles Elijah Githinji had been caught on camera in the act of adultery. The encounter was: “broadcast on a news programme in Kenya, and appears to show Anglican pastor Charles Githinji half dressed in a hotel room with a pretty young woman. Another man, claiming to be the woman’s husband, bursts into the room with a television crew in tow. The sheepish pastor scrambles for his clothes, but not before being quizzed by the people behind the camera.”

The BBC report noted Mr. Githinji had claimed he had been entrapped, but noted a new genre of news reporting had arisen in Kenya of filming prominent men caught in the act of adultery. However, a review of the footage by the Press Complaints Commission and investigation of the incident, found Mr. Githinji had been defamed.

He had been the target of a sting by the news teams, who had fabricated the incident. The Press Complaints Commission reported Mr. Githinji had been called up to the hotel room on 25 September 2014 to offer pastoral assistance to a distraught woman. While chatting with the woman a gang burst into the room and proceeded to seize him and strip him of his pants and shirt. A man claiming to be the woman’s husband, then denounced the priest as he dressed, accusing him of adultery. This scene was recorded on camera by journalists from The Nairobian and KTN, who then demanded money to destroy the film. Mr. Githinji paid the blackmailers Sh20,000, but they demanded more money, and threatened to air the film if he did not pay up.

The Star reported Mr. Githinji said he went to his bishop for advice and was told not to pay the journalists but to report them to the authorities. The Press Complaint Commission said that while it had not the authority to order the newspaper and television station to pay damages, it recommended Mr. Githinji discuss compensation with the proprietors of the Standard Group, the publishers of The Nairobian and KTN.

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