A Tongan magistrate, Salesi Mafi, has fined the Kele'a newspaper in a defamation suit brought by a cabinet minister Clive Edwards.
Mr Edwards had contested last November's election as an independent but lost to Sitiveni Halapua.
He'd claimed he was defamed by the paper's story linking him to other independents who it asserted had formed a secret grouping at the behest of the government.
Mr Edwards complained the article was false and was a key factor in his failure to win the seat.
The Taimi O Tonga newspaper reports that some of the other 16 candidates named in the Kele'a article are planning to sue the paper.
The Kele'a's editor, Mateni Tapueluelu, has indicated it will appeal against the ruling.