Vatikani and Tapueluelu lose libel case, owe Filihia $28,000

    A Lower Court in Tonga said last week the editor of Keleʻa Newspaper ‘Ofa Vatikani and publisher Lautala Pōhiva Tapueluelu and the Keleʻa Tonga Ltd  defamed a business man ‘Aisea Filihia and as a result they must pay him TP$28,000 in damages and legal fees.

    On May 18, 2015 the accused published an article claiming Filihia paid his workers only AUS$33.80 a week and at one stage he demanded AUD$70,000 from them.

    The defamatory article claimed Filihia later threatened the 40 employees he hired from Tonga that each of them has to  pay $1,400 to him and his business partner.

    Filihia was operating a fruit picking and packing services in Australia known as Quality Vine Saver Contractor.

    The Magistrate said the accused failed in proving the contents of the said defamatory story.

    He rejected the accused in their defence claiming the defamatory piece was a fair comment because the interests of the Tongan fruit pickers were materially affected.

    He ruled the accused pay  the plaintiff TP$10,000 in damages  and TP$18,000 for his legal fees.

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