PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang has drawn first blood in his defamation suit against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown.
Rewcastle-Brown has been ordered by the London courts to pay Hadi at least GB£15,000 in costs.
This is after the court on Aug 2 reportedly sided with Hadi on the Sarawak Report editor’s attempt to make him pay a deposit to cover her legal costs should his defamation suit fail.
Hadi’s political secretary Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar said the court had rejected Rewcastle-Brown’s argument that she could not successfully sue Hadi in Malaysia as the courts were corrupt.
“The court made very clear that, in the absence of any evidence, the court cannot accept that another sovereign state that has good ties and relationship with the UK is corrupt.
“In recognition of the flawed basis of her application, Rewcastle-Brown was ordered to pay Hadi two-thirds of his costs of the exercise.
“She has to pay GB£15,000 to Hadi now, with the quantum of the balance to be assessed by the court in due course,” Ahmad Samsuri said in a statement posted on Hadi’s Facebook page.
The PAS president’s political secretary said the court had accepted Hadi’s counter-offer to pay RM80,000 (GB£14,400) as a deposit.
Rewcastle-Brown confirmed with Malaysiakini that she would be paying costs to Hadi, but gave a different explanation for the reason behind the payment.
“The master in the pre-trial case management hearing said he felt he couldn’t make a judgment on my application.
“So, he said he would have to rule that I could trust Malaysia’s judicial integrity – he ordered I should pay (two-thirds) of the cost of that particular application,” she told Malaysiakini via e-mail.
She also shared a technical explanation on the matter from her legal team.
“The court has not made any finding other than at this stage that Hadi has to pay a deposit of GB£14,400 as security for the costs of enforcing a judgment against him in Malaysia if he loses.
“The court awarded two-thirds of the costs of this application because Hadi had offered to pay GB£14,400 for security for costs earlier.
“The court has said that another application for security can be made,” her legal team said.
Rewcastle-Brown said she has 28 days to file a formal defence, while Hadi has 21 days to pay the deposit.
In her email, the Sarawak Report editor also queried why Hadi’s legal team had been accompanied by the Malaysian High Commission’s staff.
Ahmad Samsuri in his statement explained that the Malaysian embassy was monitoring the case as it touches on Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, the Malaysian government, and the judiciary.
Hadi is suing Rewcastle-Brown over allegations that he had received RM90 million from Najib.
Last year, PAS had asked Rewcastle-Brown to retract the article in question and issue an apology.