Jonathan Laidlaw, QC – Najib’s new lawyer

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Najib Razak engages UK lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw for his SRC International final appeal.

Made Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 2008, Jonathan Laidlaw is currently practising with the law firm 2HareCourt.

According to the firm’s website, Laidlaw’s practice is predominantly in business and financial crime, and he has been ranked by the UK legal directories as one of their ‘star silks’.

Previously a recipient of the “Crime Silk of the Year” award, he is described as “an exceptional silk who provides superlative client care and commands the authority of the court with his formidable advocacy”.

In his profile, he is also described as “an extraordinarily able advocate with great style who can deal with the most difficult of cases with the greatest of ease” and that he has “lethal cross-examination skills and a mean way with closing speeches”.

2HareCourt

Laidlaw recently represented former tennis player Boris Becker in the latter’s bankruptcy case. Becker was made bankrupt after failing to meet payments on a £3 million-plus loan on his Spanish estate. The former Wimbledon champion was sentenced in April to two-and-a-half years’ jail for hiding £2.5m worth of assets and loans to avoid paying debts.

Meanwhile, Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said Laidlaw has vast experience that no local counsel has achieved.

He said Laidlaw was appointed as Junior Treasury Counsel in 1995, Senior Treasury Counsel in 2000 and First Senior Treasury Counsel in 2008.

“Treasury Counsels are specialist criminal advocates who prosecute the most serious and complex cases in the United Kingdom (UK).

“During his 15 years in those roles, he was involved in the most legally and factually complex and serious criminal cases brought in the UK and thus gained an almost unrivalled experience,” he said.

Shafee said this in his affidavit in support over Laidlaw’s application to seek the High Court’s permission to argue the SRC International case on an ad hoc basis.

Shafee said Laidlaw has appeared for a large number of corporate clients which include Texaco, Gulf, BOC, Ford, Southern Cross, Esso, BHP Billiton, and Flour.

“The applicant has appeared for both corporations and its directors in cases involving corporate criminal liabilities.

“The applicant was also involved in what is widely regarded as the biggest fraud case brought by way of private prosecution in the UK on behalf of the Allseas Group which resulted in the individual being convicted for fraud involving EU100 million,” he said.

He said the proceedings involving Najib has and will continue to attract significant public and media interest.

“The learned trial judge himself acknowledged that there were several novel points of law which had never been decided by the Courts in Malaysia.

“The appeal, being the culmination of the proceedings against the appellant, will involve serious, complex, and/or novel issues related inter alia to branches of criminal and civil laws.

“The appellant (Najib) wishes to engage and retain the professional services of the applicant, an English barrister pre-eminent in the field of business and financial crimes to act as lead counsel in the appeal,” he said.

Shafee said the Federal Court would benefit from being able to draw upon the applicant’s experience and counsel in this important, sensitive and constantly evolving area

“Laidlaw’s experience and expertise particularly his involvement in both prosecution and defence in substantial number of criminal cases places him in a unrivalled position to address the Federal Court on the issues relating to the impugned conduct of the prosecution and the constitutional rights of the accused person,” he added.

The Federal Court is scheduled to hear Najib’s appeal for 10 days from Aug 15 to 26.