Sarawak Report editor ordered to pay RM300,000 for defamation against Terengganu Sultanah

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The Court of Appeal today ordered Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown and two others to pay RM300,00 in damages to Sultanah of Terengganu Sultanah Nur Zahirah for defaming her.

This followed a decision by a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal judges comprising Justices Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail, Mohamed Zaini Mazlan and Datuk Azhahari Kamal Ramli allowing Sultanah Nur Zahirah’s appeal to overturn a High Court decision, made on October 31 last year, which dismissed her suit against the three defendants.

Besides Rewcastle-Brown, the other two defendants named in the suit are Gerakbudaya Enterprise publisher Chong Ton Sin and printer Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd.

In the court’s decision, which was delivered online, Justice Azhahari said the statement in a book entitled The Sarawak Report-The Inside IMDB Exposé was defamatory of the Sultanah.

He said the court also found Chong and the printer (Vinlin Press) jointly liable for defaming the Sultanah and ordered all three respondents to jointly pay the RM300,000 damages.

Rewcastle-Brown, Chong and Vinlin Press were also ordered to pay RM120,000 in costs to the Sultanah.

Sultanah Nur Zahirah filed the suit on November 21, 2018, claiming Rewcastle-Brown, Gerakbudaya Enterprise and Vinlin Press had defamed her in a book entitled The Sarawak Report-The Inside IMDB Exposé.

She claimed that the statement, among others, meant that she was involved in corruption and interfering in the administration of the Terengganu government, besides using her status to influence the establishment of the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), which was later known as 1MDB.

The Sultanah also claimed that the statement meant that she had helped Jho Low to become a TIA adviser.

She sought general damages of RM100 million from each respondent and an order for the publisher to withdraw the book containing the alleged defamatory statement and for the printer to stop printing the book.

In their statement of defence, the three defendants denied they had ever accused Nur Zahirah of being involved in corruption.

Meanwhile, a separate criminal court case against Rewcastle-Brown concerning the same portion of the book is still ongoing.