Lawyer from Tommy Thomas’ firm joins Sri Ram to represent Sarawak Report editor

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Ex-judge Gopal Sri Ram and a lawyer from the firm of former attorney-general Tommy Thomas will appear for Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle Brown and two others in a defamation appeal filed by Terengganu Sultanah Nur Zahirah.

Mohd Sahar Misni/The Star

Sri Ram said the lawyer will replace Americk Sidhu when the matter is heard in the Court of Appeal on Aug 24.

“The hearing on March 24 was vacated as I was involved in a Federal Court matter,” he told FMT, adding that the appeal had been postponed several times due to Covid-19 restrictions.

In December 2019, High Court judge Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim said that in the face of the suit, Rewcastle Brown, publisher Gerakbudaya Enterprise, publisher Chong Ton Sin and printer Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd had defamed the Sultanah.

The judge said in the mind of any reasonable person, an impugned passage in the book “The Sarawak Report – The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose” had cast aspersions on the plaintiff (the Sultanah).

Zaidi said he concurred with the Sultanah’s lawyer, Mohd Haaziq Pillay Abdullah, that the defendants need not bring a language expert to prove the passage in the book was not defamatory.

The defendants had cited the defence of justification, fair comment and qualified privilege.

Sultanah Nur Zahirah, who is claiming general damages of RM100 million from each defendant, alleged that Rewcastle Brown had made a disparaging statement about her in the book, and claimed that it could be taken to mean she was involved in corrupt practices.

The plaintiff said the defamatory statement could also infer that she had interfered in Terengganu’s administration besides using her status to influence the establishment of Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), which later became 1MDB, and that she had helped Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, to become the adviser of TIA. – FMT