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Pahang MB Lawsuit Against Utusan To Go For Trial

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PUTRAJAYA – Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob will have his day in court over a defamation lawsuit against Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd.

A five-man bench led by Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin reinstated the lawsuit and ordered the case to be sent back to the Kuala Lumpur High Court for trial.

The matter was struck out by the Court of Appeal on March 1, last year after it ruled that public officials could not sue media for defamation in their official capacity.

Zulkefli said evidence had yet to be established at the High Court on whether the lawsuit was brought by Adnan in his personal or official capacity.

“We want justice for both sides. You have your day in court,” he said.

Presiding with him were Federal Court judges Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, Tan Sri Hasan Lah, Datuk Aziah Ali and Tan Sri Jeffrey Tan Kok Wha.

Zulkefli allowed Adnan’s appeal to reverse the decision of the appellate court on March 1 last year, in striking out his civil suit against the publisher of the Malay newspaper and set Feb 22 for case management at the High Court.

However, the court panel did not decide whether the English case law principle, Derbyshire County Council v The Times Newspapers Ltd & Others (1993), applied to this case.

The case law states that local authorities cannot institute libel action in their official capacity.

“We are not saying the Derbyshire County Council principle does not apply to this case,” he said, adding the issue would be decided in other cases, as well.

Adnan sued Utusan Melayu over the publication of an article in Mingguan Malaysia under the headline, ‘Hebat Sangatkah Adnan’ on Nov 9, 2014.

In the suit filed in 2014, Adnan said Utusan had tarnished his reputation as a national leader and politician through an article.

The appellate court had allowed Utusan Melayu’s appeal to overturn the High Court’s dismissal of the publisher’s application to strike out the lawsuit.

In the appeal proceeding today, Zulkefli pointed out whether it was proper at this stage for the court to decide on the matter since the case was struck out and evidence had yet to be established by the court.

Lawyer Datuk M. Reza Hassan, acting for Utusan Melayu submitted that Adnan did not have the legal standing to bring the suit against his client as, based on the Adnan’s pleadings, it was obvious he filed his action in his capacity as menteri besar.

Adnan’s lawyer, Americk Sidhu said it was premature to hear the appeal since no evidence had been established. – BERNAMA


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