PUTRAJAYA, Apr 23 – Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president Mohd Rafizi Ramli and an online news portal owner today withdrew their appeals against a decision which struck out their defence of fair comment in a defamation suit brought by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.
The Federal Court five-man panel, chaired by Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, struck out both appeals after lawyer Razlan Hadri Zulkifli, representing Mohd Rafizi and Chan Chee Keong, informed the court that they were withdrawing the appeals.
“We (lawyers for both parties) have also agreed on costs of RM10,000 for both appeals,” said Razlan before the panel, who also comprised Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop and Federal Court Judges Tan Sri Zainun Ali, Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed and Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim.
On June 20, 2017, the Federal Court granted leave to appeal to Mohd Rafizi and Chan against the Court of Appeal’s decision which struck out their defence of fair comment and today the panel was scheduled to hear the appeals.
Najib and Rosmah, represented by lawyer Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun, had filed the suit over Mohd Rafizi’s alleged disparaging statement against them at a forum on oil subsidy in Bandar Tun Razak on Nov 22, 2014.
Najib and Rosmah claimed that Mohd Rafizi’s speech was recorded by Media Rakyat and uploaded by Chan or his assistant on Media Rakyat ‘s YouTube and portal. They further alleged that Chan had also shared the recording in Media Rakyat ‘s Facebook account which could be freely accessed by Internet users worldwide.
The couple is seeking general, aggravated and exemplary damages deemed fit by the court, as well as interest and costs. Najib and his wife had sought to strike out the defence of fair comment stated by Mohd Rafizi and Chan in their statement of defence on grounds that the disputed words were “statement of facts and not statement of comments”.
They lost their bid in the High Court, prompting them to appeal to the Court of Appeal which subsequently ruled in their favour and struck out Mohd Rafizi and Chan’s defence of fair comments on Nov 29, 2016.
Outside the courtroom, when asked on the reason why his clients wanted to withdraw the appeals, Razlan said Mohd Rafizi would issue a statement on the matter. He said the case had been fixed for trial at the High Court, but the date had yet to be fixed. –Bernama