M&G wins Miss World court bid

2009-12-12 12:09

Johannesburg - An attempt by Miss World Ltd to gag the Mail & Guardian newspaper was defeated in the South Gauteng High Court on Saturday, the publication said.

The organisers of the Miss World pageant, due to take place in Johannesburg on Saturday night, had sought an urgent interdict on Friday night to force the newspaper to remove two stories from its website.

One story contained information that Miss Indonesia was linked to an alleged cult, while the second story dealt with the "ballooning" costs incurred by the City of Johannesburg because of the pageant.

'Commercial damage'

"Counsel for Miss World Ltd argued that the stories would cause irreparable commercial damage to the organisation if a global audience was exposed to them on the day of the pageant," the newspaper said.

"Judge Mathopo disagreed, repeatedly pointing out that stories concerning the links of Miss Indonesia to the alleged cult... had been in the public domain for some time," the M&G said.

"Although argument did not dwell on the merits, he (the judge) could find no problem, either, with the second story complained of..."

The case was struck from the roll, awarding costs to the newspaper.

Editor 'delighted'

"I am delighted by the outcome, which is a further demonstration of the strength of our legal dispensation in matters of this kind. I am frustrated and disappointed, however, that we had to go to court at all," M&G editor Nic Dawes said.

"I have offered the pageant organisers right of reply in our newspaper and on our website, which they have yet to take up. That offer stands."

Pageant organisers were not available to comment on the matter.