AG refuses to drop Rewcastle-Brown defamation charge

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The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) has rejected the representation by Sarawak Report Editor, Clare Rewcastle-Brown seeking the prosecution to withdraw a charge made against her for allegedly making defamatory statements against the Sultanah of Terengganu Sultanah Nur Zahirah.

Rewcastle-Brown, who is from the United Kingdom, was charged in absentia with defaming Sultanah Nur Zahirah in a book, “The Sarawak Report – The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose”, in the Kuala Terengganu Magistrate’s Court on Sept 23, 2021.

The charge, framed under Section 500 of the Penal Code, provides imprisonment for up to two years, or a fine or both, if convicted.

Her lawyer, Guok Ngek Seong, said he was informed of the matter through a letter sent via email last Jan 25.

“We will submit a new representation to the AGC in due course,” said Guok when met by reporters after the case management before High Court Deputy Registrar Catherine Nicholas today.

Guok said at today’s case management, the court fixed March 10 for further case management and it would be held before a new judge, K Muniandy, who replaced Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan who is now a Court of Appeal judge.

Meanwhile, deputy public prosecutor Noor Haslinda Che Seman, when contacted, confirmed the matter.

She also said the hearing of the case, which was supposed to take place at the Kuala Terengganu Magistrate’s Court last month, was postponed pending Rewcastle-Brown’s application to transfer the case to the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

Rewcastle-Brown filed the representation on Dec 13 last year following a High Court’s decision on Oct 31 in dismissing the defamation suit filed by Sultanah Nur Zahirah against her.

In the application, Rewcastle-Brown said the High Court had ruled that the paragraph in the book was not defamatory, and therefore, the prosecution will face difficulties in proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Judicial commissioner John Lee Kien How @ Johan Lee ruled that a statement complained of in the book was not defamatory of the sultanah and ordered RM80,000 in costs to be paid to Rewcastle-Brown and other defendants, namely publisher Cheong Ton Sin and printer, Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd.