Court awards woman 3 million for being thrown out of Intercontinental Hotel


A Nairobi court has awarded Sh 3 million to a woman thrown out of Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi twenty years ago after being mistaken for a prostitute.

Winfred Njoki Clarke was allegedly dragged out of the hotel for reasons that she was accompanied by a man, and detained for two days at Central Police Station for no reason.

Justice Msagha Mbogholi ordered the Hotel to pay her Sh 2 million in damages for unlawful detention and imprisonment and another Sh 1 million on the Attorney General plus cost of the suit and interest.

”The actions of the hotel amounted to great humiliation and embarrassment, the petitioner has established that she is entitled to damages,” ruled Justice Mbogholi.

According to her court papers, on 19th March 1998, Mrs Clarke went to the hotel as a potential paying customer to have a drink with her friend but was denied service for no reason.

Clarke testified in court that she went the bar counter and asked for two bottles of beer while holding Sh 400 in her hand but instead of being served, she was asked for “cover charge”


When she insisted to know why she was denied services, a waiter at the hotel told her “Why don’t you go ask your colleagues”, as she pointed to two other women who were sitting by themselves at the bar.

In addition, a security officer told her that women who were not residing at the hotel could not be served and that the must pay the “cover charge”.

Justice Mbogholi added that no notice was displayed on the premises   that unaccompanied women were required to pay a “cover charge” for drinks they wanted to take.

“It was therefore within her right to ask what this “Cover charge” was but instead of an answer, she was dragged out of the hotel and ended up in a police station.

When I inquired what this “cover charge” was, I was asked to see the manager,” Clarke added.

Clarke says despite pleading that she was a respectably married woman to Terrence Leonard James Clarke, she was assaulted by the Hotel’s Security staff who dragged her out of the taxi she had boarded after being evicted from the establishment.

She said the words uttered by the hotel staff were understood to mean that she was a woman   of questionable moral conduct and a “Prostitute” and were spoken in the presence of other customers.

When I ended up outside and boarded a taxi, the driver was ordered not to carry me they called the police” she further states in her papers.

Clarke accused the Hotel of acting maliciously by arresting her in public, an ordeal which caused her severe shock and mental anguish.

In addition, the applicant said the officers at Central Police station mistreated her and refused to take her statement and recording her arrest in the Occurrence Book (OB).

When her husband visited her, he was unable to secure her release but she was later released on a free bond without any charges.

In their defense, the hotel blamed Clarke for her “unruly behavior which could have led to a breach of peace had the police not been called to intervene.

However the Judge said regardless of the admission and  service regulations of Intercontinental Hotel, the manner in which Clarke was treated pointed to discrimination which in the circumstances  was embarrassing  and humiliating.