Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Appeals court dismisses Khairy’s bid to challenge Anwar’s defamation suit

A three-man bench rules there is no appealable error warranting appellate intervention.

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The Court of Appeal has dismissed Khairy Jamaluddin’s appeal to challenge Anwar Ibrahim’s defamation suit over a statement of immoral character filed against him 14 years ago.

A three-member panel comprising judges Lee Swee Seng, Darryl Goon Siew Chye and Ghazali Cha, in a unanimous decision, ruled that there was no appealable error that warranted appellate intervention.

Goon, who read out the decision during the virtual proceedings today, said the impugned statement uttered by Khairy, in the choice of analogy and figure of speech within the natural and ordinary meaning, was capable of being defamatory to Anwar.

“The learned trial judge has taken the impugned statements in context including the figure of speech employed and concluded that the ordinary and natural meaning of the impugned statement by implication and/or inference, were both capable of being, and in fact, defamatory, as set out in his judgment.

“”s it has been succinctly described, ‘words, like people, are judged by the company they keep’. The sting is not so much in the words that are actually used but what ordinary men would infer from them. The inference that may be borne from the words used is also to be regarded in law as part of the natural and ordinary meaning used,” he said.

In relation to the quantum of damages – RM150,000 – awarded to Anwar, Goon said the court did not find that the reward was manifestly excessive and that there exists no justification for any appellate intervention.

“We therefore find no merit to this appeal, and the appeal is accordingly dismissed. The decision of the learned High Court judge is affirmed. We award a sum of RM50,000 to the respondent (Anwar),” he said.

The appellate court also dismissed Khairy’s appeal to amend his statement of defence with regard to the defamation suit by Anwar.

“We find no appealable error on the part of the judge in the exercise of his discretion to disallow the appellant’s application to re-amend his statement of defence as it came much too late in the day after the trial concluded for an amendment of the nature sought to be made,” said Goon who also ordered Khairy to pay Anwar costs of RM10,000.

On March 7, 2008, Anwar, who is PKR president, sued Khairy, who was then youth and sports minister and Umno Youth vice-chief, for allegedly uttering defamatory words about him during a ceramah in Lembah Pantai on Feb 20 the same year which led to the posting of a video clip titled “Anwar and kin no threat” on a news portal.

In September 2017, High Court judge Azizul Azmi Adnan allowed Anwar’s suit against Khairy and found Khairy liable for defamation, ordering Khairy to pay Anwar RM150,000 in general damages.

The judge also dismissed Khairy’s application to amend his statement of defence to say that his remark was a fair comment.

Khairy subsequently filed an appeal against the High Court ruling but, in February 2018, the Court of Appeal struck it out after allowing Anwar’s counsel’s application to annul the notice of appeal.

On Dec 15, 2020, the Federal Court allowed Khairy’s appeal for his case to be reheard on its full merits at the Court of Appeal.

Anwar was represented by counsel Gopal Sri Ram while Muhammad Shafee Abdullah acted for Khairy.

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