Police today recorded a statement from Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown in connection with a lawsuit filed by the Sultanah of Terengganu, Sultanah Nur Zahirah.
The Sultanah had filed an RM300 million defamation lawsuit against Rewcastle-Brown, her publisher and a printer over claims in her book detailing her role in investigating the 1MDB scandal.
Rewcastle-Brown’s statement was taken at the Bukit Aman federal police headquarters.
She told reporters that the session, which began at noon, lasted some three hours.
“I’m being investigated under Section 500 of the Penal Code for defamation as well as under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998,” she said.
Rewcastle-Brown said she expected to give a statement again to the police, and that she would give her full cooperation.
She has also expressed shock that several investigations against her for spreading false news dating back to 2015 were still open.
“I have been told there are three separate cases against me that have not been closed since 2015.
“This shocked and surprised me. I had assumed these cases were closed and I was no longer being investigated for making statements on 1MDB.
“The police want me to come back to make three separate statements on the matter,” she said.
However, the dates have not be been fixed, but she said that she would comply.
Rewcastle-Brown had earlier arrived from the UK.
On her session with police today, she said she was not aware that police had tried to contact her, but decided to come on her own accord after being informed by friends.
She said lawyers representing the Sultanah of Terengganu lodged a police report over her book.
“At the same time, the lawyers have filed a civil case against me for RM300 million. I’m concerned that the civil case is being backed up with complaints to the police.
“My publisher and distributor have been visited as well as everyone that I have visited in the past few weeks, and they were questioned about me and what involvement they allegedly might have.
“I think 13 people have been interviewed by the police. I contacted the police from the UK and asked them what was going on, and why the people I was staying with, and the people who hosted events for me, why they were being questioned,” she said.
Rewcastle-Brown revealed she had a very pleasant interview with the police.
“I hope I was able to explain everything about this report. They asked me fair questions.
“I explained to the police that I believed the allegations made in the police report are totally incorrect,” she said, adding that she was more than happy to cooperate with the police.
“I want to help them solve this case. We will keep in contact and I would hate for them to have to spend so much energy about this, when they are so much more important things to investigate,” Rewcastle-Brown said.
Regarding the report and civil suit, she clarified that there had been a misinterpretation from the passage of the book in question.
“The grammar is quite clear. I was saying that the Sultan himself was officially involved in the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA). The complaint against me was that I said she (Sultanah) was involved.
“I have never said that she or the Sultan has ever done anything that was inappropriate, and my book makes it absolutely clear that the 1MDB scandal began after the TIA ceased to exist and was changed into 1MDB.
“I also said (in the book) that one of the reasons why the TIA was closed down was that the Sultan, who was the chairman of the board, was concerned about some of the ways Jho Low was attempting to run the fund.
“There are no allegations in my book, quite the opposite,” she said, adding that her book made it clear that the Sultan acted properly and accordingly.
She pointed out that 1MDB only became a concern in 2015.
“How can anybody in 2008 be expected to know what would happen in the future? In my book, I was just explaining the background on how Jho Low says he got his job at TIA. It seems to me that the lawyers who are trying to sue me and my colleagues are seeking to create a false impression,” she said.
On Sept 29, Sultanah Nur Zahirah, through her counsel, had given Rewcastle-Brown eight days to issue a “full written, unequivocal public retraction” of a passage in her book about the 1MDB scandal, or face an RM100 million defamation suit.
A letter of demand was served to three parties, including Rewcastle-Brown, to make a public retraction and apology in terms to be approved by her lawyers by Oct 5.
Sarawak Report had previously apologised if the book led to any misinterpretation on the Sultanah’s part that it suggested that she was conspiring with Jho Low, or was involved in the government administration in the 1MDB scandal.
The news outlet also clarified that it did not suggest she was linked to the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) or the 1MDB board in any way.