On 6 March 2009, the Manchester based newspaper published an article that falsely claimed that President Zuma was guilty of rape, corruption and bribery. President Zuma began legal action against the daily newspaper earlier this year claiming defamation, saying the article was grossly false and indefensible.
After being taken to court, the Guardian has apologised to the ANC leader and agreed to pay very substantial damages as well as cover legal costs.
In a statement read in the High Court on 30 July 2009, Schillings solicitor Jenny Afia described the allegations as being “of the utmost seriousness and totally untrue”. She went on to explain that: “In light of the facts that the [Guardian] is now willing to pay very substantial damages and it has publicly apologised to [President Zuma], [President Zuma] considers that his reputation in this matter has been entirely vindicated and he is prepared not to proceed any further in his action against the [Guardian].”
Speaking from Mahlambandlovu last night, the president’s official residence in Pretoria, President Zuma said: “What was said was extremely serious, not just for me but for the ANC. I am very pleased that the Guardian has now apologised. I firmly believe in press freedom and freedom of expression. I have fought for these and other basic rights my whole life and I will continue to support this. We had to take action in this matter because the publication crossed the line. Media around the world are obliged to exercise their freedom of speech in a responsible manner.”
Schillings is one of Britain’s top law firms dedicated to reputation management and the safeguarding of international corporations, brands, celebrities and high-profile business people. The firm’s track-record in media management, privacy law and copyright cases, as well as commercial dispute resolution and sports law is second to none.
Defamation, privacy and copyright are at the heart of the firm’s work, prompting The Independent newspaper to call Schillings a “spectacularly efficient media law firm”.
Schillings clients include supermodel Naomi Campbell, actress Kate Winslet, seven times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, premiership footballer Wayne Rooney, Harry Potter author JK Rowling, pharmaceuticals maker GlaxoSmithKline, steel maker Arcelor Mittal, the Harrods Group and the London Stock Exchange.
Court case number: HQ09X01290