The head of Lighthouse Chapel International in the United Kingdom, Bishop Richard Aryee, does not dispute the fact that he received £300,000 ex-gratia payment from the Lighthouse Chapel International.
He has admitted receiving the ex-gratia payment in 2015 in recognition of his work.
He has, however, sued The Fourth Estate for defamation for publishing the story because, according to him, the publication cast him in a bad light. The publication was titled; Serving Lighthouse pastor standing “against disloyalty” was paid £300,000 as ex-gratia.
Bishop Richard Aryee, a British citizen, has filed a defamation suit in the UK High Court in London.
He sued the Editor-In-Chief, Manasseh Azure Awuni, and the author of the story, Edwin Appiah. He also sued the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), which undertakes The Fourth Estate journalism project.
His lawyers, Keystone Law, claimed that the words of the story “convey the defamatory meanings that; The Claimant has hypocritically criticized six pastors for suing the church of which he is a bishop…”
Bishop Aryee, who heads the First Love Church and Mustard Seed Chapel International in the UK, said the words defamed him “seriously” because the story suggested he “received the payment in suspicious circumstances, including that there are grounds to investigate that he lied about being in retirement.”
The LCI bishop said the article also cast him as one who is “not a loyal member of his church and is involved primarily for financial gain.”
Bishop complained that the words are “inherently serious in terms of their propensity to cause harm to the personal and professional reputations of the Claimant who, by virtue of his numerous leadership roles…is expected to hold himself to the highest moral standards.”
“…the Claimant has been very seriously damaged…and has been caused very considerable hurt, distress and embarrassment,” portions of the suit reads.
Explaining how the publication has affected him, Bishop Aryee said he had had to explain himself to more than 100 church members and 139 Lighthouse pastors and leaders in the UK.
Even his daughter has asked him about it after her friend also asked her about it, the bishop said in his suit.
He also said the publication had affected his social life and public interactions. “The distress caused by the Claimant’s inability to know who has read the article, such that he now generally behaves more cautiously when meeting people,” he said.
“This is particularly so when performing the fundraising aspect of his role as a resident bishop…as he is concerned that prospective donors will (incorrectly) perceive his funding requests as made for his own personal gain…,” the lawyer for the bishop explained.
For these damages to his reputation, Bishop Aryee wants £100,000 in compensation.
In May 2021, The Fourth Estate reported that Lighthouse Chapel International had paid Bishop Richard Aryee £300,000 ex-gratia. He still serves in the church.
Evidence of the payment to Bishop Aryee was contained in Lighthouse International Chapel’s 2016 audited accounts. The church submitted the accounts to the Charity Commission for England and Wales, an independent body that ensures that the public can support charities with confidence.
Lighthouse Chapel International has become a subject of public interest after The Fourth Estate published six former pastors’ account of abuse and exploitation in a series titled “Darkness in a Lighthouse”. The pastors have also sued the church.
The church has also countersued all the six pastors and also sued The Fourth Estate in four different cases.