Former president JJ Rawlings has described as sensational and blatant falsehood a report in the May edition of the Africawatch magazine that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
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Hanifa Yahaya, lawyer for the former president has therefore asked the publishers Liberty Media Concepts, to retract the story, apologise with the same publicity given to the news item or face legal action.
Hanifa told the Daily Graphic on Tuesday that the publication was not only false but also, defamatory.
Hanifa angrily asked: “They are not speculating but were very categorical that they have spoken to his doctors in Ghana and in South Africa. What motive will they have for such publication, if not defamation?”
Experts say Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movements such as tremor in one hand, stiffness, slow movements, a person’s face showing little or no expression and occasional soft or slurred speech.
In the said publication, Africawatch headlined the story on the former president as: “Now This Man needs your prayers, Parkinson’s disease eats Rawlings’ strength away.”
The lawyers of Rawlings said they had been instructed to take legal action if the publishers failed to halt the distribution of the publication and render an apology to be published.
Part of the rejoinder by the legal team of the former president read: “We also demand that you immediately halt the distribution of the said edition of the offensive publication and cause the retraction and apology to be published immediately in at least one major newspaper in all the countries listed on the cover as circulation zones, as well as in the next monthly edition of the magazine.
“Take notice and notice is hereby given that if you fail to immediately retract the story and apologise for same, legal action shall be taken against you without any further notice to you,” it warned.
The said story only gives scanty detail but claimed to have accounts from the former president’s doctors in Ghana and South Africa.
Kobina Andoh, aide to Rawlings also described the publication as an absolute falsehood. He said: “It is cast in bad taste and calculated to just sell a magazine that has very little credibility and thrives on sensationalism and not facts.
He said there was no way doctors of the former president would renege on their ethics and go public by telling lies about his health.