A woman who was thrown out of Intercontinental Hotel after being mistaken for a prostitute has been awarded Sh3 million shillings as compensation.
High Court judge Mbogholi Msagha ordered the hotel to pay Ms Winfred Clarke the said monies as damages for defamation and being put in custody unlawfully.
“The actions of the hotel amounted to great humiliation and embarrassment. She has established entitlement to damages and I hereby make an award of Sh2 million shillings against the hotel and another Sh1 million against the Attorney General,” ruled Justice Msagha.
The fateful incident occurred on March 19, 1998 when Ms Clarke went to the said hotel while intending to have a drink with a friend.
However she was stopped by a security guard because she was not in the company of a man.
Nevertheless, she proceeded to the restaurant and bar sectionwhere she ordered for two bottles of beer. She was asked to pay for a ‘cover charge’ which she did not understand and questioned the waiters about it while insisting on paying Sh 400 to settle her bill.
She told court that the waiters refused to attend to her and was described as a woman of questionable moral conduct in the presence of other customers.
Her attempts to explain that she was a respectably married woman to one Terrence Leonard James Clarke did not bear any fruit as the hotel’s Security staff evicted her out of the premise.
She also claimed that when she left the hotel to board a cab after being denied the chance to sit at the lounge, the police were instead contacted to arrest her as well as lock her up at the Central police station for two days.
She alleged that police refused to record her statement as well as her arrest in the Occurrence Book (OB).
In the case documents, she accused the hotel of acting with malice in having her arrested in public, hence underwent severe shock and mental anguish.
She also accused the police of mistreating her, denying her freedom but later released her on a free bond.
According to the hotel, her conduct was unruly and could have resulted to breach of peace which necessitated the need for calling the police to intervene.
But the court ruled that she was subjected to discrimination, embarrassment and humiliation.
The judge pointed out that the hotel had no notice in the hotel which indicated that an unaccompanied women were required to pay a ‘cover charge’ for any drinks and that is was within her rights to question them about it in order to understand.
The judge also said that the matter would not have spilled over to the courts if the management had acted in a civil manner.