The recently disclosed defence and counterclaim in the Abdul Hadi Awang P vs Clare Rewcastle Brown suit filed in the UK has in Malaysia been focused on two paragraphs in which I have been specifically named. I have refrained from comment for now, in view of the pending proceedings in the UK court.
The forum for the proceedings in the UK was chosen by the Claimant, YB Hadi Awang, as he is perfectly entitled to do. It is therefore in the UK Court , that any requests (or demands) for documents or information must be made. It is there that the responses to the serious allegations contained in the defence and counterclaim must be submitted. It is there that the trial will be held. In the UK. Not in Malaysia.
It is therefore highly unusual and irregular that those in the Claimant’s party and others who are aligned to him, are seeking to conduct a mini trial (or persecution) in Malaysia on the two paragraphs of the defence that mention my name.
In the last few days, I have faced a barrage of attacks from Ministers, party members and others aligned to the Claimant. The government media gave me a three page coverage yesterday (including the front page!), where demands for me to ”come clean” were made. I was even on the TV3 news. Bloggers identified with the ruling party have made sexist, racist and highly defamatory remarks about both Ms Rewcastle Brown and myself. The social media has been used to attack my reputation and character.
Yesterday, 3 men came to my house claiming they were pressmen and stood outside while filming my home. Reporters from Berita Harian and TV3 camped for nearly two hours outside my office. Now, it appears that a police report has been lodged against me based on the defence and counterclaim filed by Ms Rewcastle Brown.
In my view these are targeted acts of intimidation and harassment against me. They seriously undermine, and are disrespectful of, the UK proceedings and may in my view amount to a contempt of the UK court. As these acts may in one way or another be seen to be connected to the Claimant, I believe he could be answerable to the UK court for them.
Those who have been vociferous in condemning me and who are aggrieved in any way, ought to take those grievances to the court in the UK. I believe they may even intervene in those proceedings and become parties if they feel strongly enough and have a case to put forward.
There are more than two paragraphs in the defence and counterclaim. There are in total 36. There are serious allegations contained in them. Perhaps that should be the focus.
PRESS STATEMENT FROM Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan
BELOW IS DEFENCE & COUNTERCLAIM BY SARAWAK REPORT TO HADI’S SUIT
Response to Hadi Awang
Below, for the purposes of accuracy, is the Court Summary of Sarawak Report’s Defence and Counterclaim against Hadi Awang in the UK. You can also read the full 55 page defence on this link and Hadi’s initial suit on this link:
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE Claim No. HQ17M01386
QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION
MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS LIST
HONOURABLE ABDUL HADI AWANG MP
CLARE REWCASTLE BROWN
SUMMARY OF THE DEFENCE AND COUNTERCLAIM
pursuant to PD16 to Part 16 of the Civil Procedure Rules
SUMMARY OF THE DEFENCE
- The Claimant claims in respect of the publication of a political commentary written by the Defendant and published by her on the Sarawak Report website from 6 August 2016 and by being sent by email to subscribers to Sarawak report in England and Wales, Singapore and Malaysia. The words complained of appear at the end of the article, in its final eight, short paragraphs. They refer to the political party PAS and to “the top echelons” of that political party. The Claimant is neither named nor identified as being the object of any statements made in the article.
- The Claimant’s case that the words complained of were reasonably understood to refer to him is denied. The Claimant could not reasonably be understood to be referred to. Affording the Claimant a cause of action as a person referred to by the said words would be a disproportionate, unnecessary and unjustified interference and inhibition of the Defendant’s and the public’s rights to freedom of expression pursuant to Article 10 and particularly the exercise of those rights in the free discussion of political matters.
- The Defendant denies that the words complained of could be understood to bear either the defamatory meaning concerning the Claimant for which he contends or, indeed, any defamatory meaning concerning him.
- Section 1 of the Defamation Act 2013 requires that it be proved that publication of the statements complained of has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the Claimant. The Defendant denies that such harm has been caused or is likely to be caused by the publication of which the Claimant complains
An illegitimate, politically motivated claim
- Contrary to the Claimant’s professed purpose in bringing these proceedings, the Defendant will contend that his purpose and intention has not been the legitimate one of correcting and protecting himself from serious harm to his reputation but for the illegitimate purposes of protecting the reputations and advancing the political purposes of the PAS party and his political ally, Malaysia’s corrupt and corrupting Prime Minister, Najib Razak.
Publication in the public interest
- The Defendant also relies on the defence available to her pursuant to s.4 of the Defamation Act 2013.
- The statements in the Article of which the Claimant complains were, or were part of, statements on matters of the greatest possible public interest, namely the corrupt and criminal history and activity and corrupting conduct and influence on the government and political and judicial processes of Malaysia and fitness for office of that country’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak.
- Having regard to all the facts and matters set out in paragraphs 25.1 to 25.102 of the Defence and (as required by s.4(2) of the Act) all the circumstances of the case, it was entirely reasonable for the Defendant to believe that her publication of the Article including the statements complained of was in the public interest. The Defendant will contend that to find to the contrary would constitute an illegitimate interference with her and the public’s Article 10 rights wholly disproportionate to any countervailing need to protect or vindicate the Claimant’s reputation rights.
- The Defendant also relies on the defence of Truth available to her pursuant to s.2 of the Defamation Act 2013.
- If and in so far as the words complained of were reasonably understood to convey an imputation defamatory of the Claimant, that imputation is substantially true. The Defendant will prove that as the President of the political party PAS the Claimant has knowingly allowed that party to be compromised and corrupted morally and politically and the democratic process to be undermined by senior party personnel accepting and personally benefitting from enormous secret payments of money from the corrupt Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak, paid to undermine and draw PAS away from the Opposition coalition.
- In the premises the Claimant is not entitled to damages as sought, whether aggravated or at all. Nor is he entitled to injunctive relief.
SUMMARY OF THE COUNTERCLAIM
- The Claimant has colluded with the Malaysian government of Najib Razak and their agents to exploit these proceedings as part of their propaganda efforts to exonerate Najib Razak and disable and discredit the Defendant and Sarawak Report in its justified campaign that Najib Razak be removed from office and brought to justice for his corrupt and criminal conduct.
- The Claimant, whether himself or by his agents, has either been party to the publication of a series of articles viciously and racially abusing, defaming and harassing the Defendant on The Third Force website and on the Malaysia Today website, or has aided and/or abetted and/or counselled and/or procured those publications by passing information concerning these proceedings to those agents of the Malaysian government of Najib Razak.
- Those publications amount to harassment, proscribed by s.1(1) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Pursuant to s.3 of that Act, the Defendant claims damages for the severe stress, anxiety and distress caused her by those publications and an injunction restraining the Claimant from further harassment of the Defendant.
STATEMENT OF TRUTH
I believe that the facts stated in these Particulars of Claim are true.
For the full claim and defence click on the links below: