Monday, July 4, 2022

Khairy withdraws appeal in Anwar’s defamation suit

A three-man Federal Court bench strikes out his two leave applications to appeal, with costs of RM5,000 for each appeal.

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Khairy Jamaluddin has ceased his legal battle against a court ruling holding him liable for defaming Anwar Ibrahim over a statement of immoral character made 14 years ago.

A three-member Federal Court bench led by judge Nallini Pathmanathan struck out two leave applications to appeal filed by Khairy, with costs of RM5,000 for each appeal, after Khairy’s counsel Sarah Abishegam informed the court that they had written to the opposing side for the withdrawal of the leave applications in April this year.

Khairy sought the leave to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s ruling that he was liable for defaming Anwar and over the same court’s finding dismissing his appeal to amend the statement of defence with regard to the defamation suit brought by the opposition leader.

Earlier, Sarah offered costs of RM1,000 for each appeal on the grounds that the withdrawal had been made at an early stage.

“We filed the motion on March 7 and the matter came up for e-review (at the court) on April 6.

“There was a hearing date set on Aug 11 for this matter. We actually wrote to the opponent for the withdrawal of the appeals in April,” she told the panel, which also included justices Zabariah Mohd Yusof and Rhodzariah Bujang.

But Anwar’s counsel Gopal Sri Ram said the sum of RM5,000 in costs for each appeal before the apex court was reasonable.

“The motions (applications for leave to appeal) which were served on us comprised of 10 volumes. We had to respond to the points raised and my learned friend appearing with me, Miss Leela, also prepared the draft submissions,” he added.

On Feb 7 this year, the Court of Appeal dismissed Khairy’s appeal to challenge Anwar’s defamation suit after ruling that there was no appealable error warranting appellate intervention.

Judge Darryl Goon Siew Chye, who read out the decision, 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 towards Anwar.

The Court of Appeal also affirmed the High Court’s decision, holding that the damages of RM150,000 awarded by the High Court to Anwar were not manifestly excessive.

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 found Khairy liable for defamation and ordered him 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 had been 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 the application by Anwar’s counsel 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.

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