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British High Commission Accra writes to 'The Chronicle'

The British High Commission Accra makes a rejoinder to the newspaper ‘The Chronicle’ in conjunction with a misrepresented front page article titled “British Envoy blasts Mahama”.

Jon Benjamin

Jon Benjamin

We wish to protest in the strongest possible terms about your gross misrepresentation of our High Commissioner, Jon Benjamin, in the headline on the front page of your newspaper, The Chronicle, yesterday, Monday 9 May, repeated in the opening paragraphs of your fuller report relating to it on page 3. Regrettably, the British High Commission is too often subjected to woefully inaccurate articles by some Ghanaian media houses and we will always insist on a correction, in as prominent a form as the initial erroneous article.

Your headline “British Envoy Blasts Mahama” is blatantly inaccurate. Your report of Mr Benjamin’s speech, at the launch of a major DFID agricultural project, to be implemented with the full agreement of the Government of Ghana, is an example of very poor journalism, as is the assertion in your inside pages that Mr Benjamin allegedly “criticised the John Mahama Government for” overseeing the importation of rice, tomatoes, poultry and vegetables among others instead of building a vibrant and dynamic agriculture for the production of the products locally. Mr Benjamin said no such thing.

Discussing the future potential of Ghana, including by suggesting increased agricultural production here so that some currently imported goods can instead be supplied by the domestic market, is in no way a criticism of the current government. Rather, it is simply a statement of what the British Government, through an economic assistance programme, hopes can be achieved in partnership with the Government of Ghana, the farming community, civil society and others.

The Northern Regional Minister as well as the Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture were both present, and both spoke, at the event to officially launch the DFID-funded MADE programme and its first Agribusiness and Investment forum which took place on Thursday 5 May 2016 in Tamale. Neither Ministers expressed any objection to Mr Benjamin’s speech, which can be read here. We can only presume that you did not ask them, or any other part of the Government of Ghana, if they interpreted Mr Benjamin’s speech in the way your headline writer chose to.

We would like to reiterate that all media houses who wish to publish news stories regarding the British High Commission can contact us at any time to check the facts, including the accuracy of either direct quotations or general views attributed to us. We sincerely hope that The Chronicle, with whom we are happy to work, will not misrepresent our views again in this way in future.

The British High Commission.

Published 10 May 2016