GEORGE TOWN: A consent judgement has been reached in the defamation suit filed by jailed former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim against senior lawyer Ranjit Singh, the New Straits Times (NST) newspaper and its two journalists.
Ranjit apologised to Anwar and the late Karpal Singh’s wife, Gurmit Kaur, in court before Justice Rosilah Yop.
“I, Ranjit Singh Mahinder Singh, hereby wish to unequivocally and unreservedly apologise for my statements that were published by the NST on 6th August, 2013 at page 10, titled ‘Prove you have nothing to hide’.
“I further apologise for having called for both Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the late Karpal Singh to declare their assets to the public in order to prove they were clean and to clear themselves of unproven and unsubstantiated allegations against them in relation to judiciary fixing and corruption.
“I understand that my statements had negative insinuations and I unreservedly apologise to Anwar and the late Karpal Singh and their respective families.”
NST and its specialist writer, Adrian Lai, and former reporter Looi Sue-Chern have agreed to publish an apology and retraction to Anwar in its print edition tomorrow or Wednesday.
NST, Lai and Looi had also agreed to pay RM60,000 in costs to Anwar.
The agreed apology and retraction, to be published by NST, will be as follows:
“We hereby refer to our news report dated 6th August, 2013 at page 10, titled ‘Prove you have nothing to hide’ wherein we had published comments by Ranjit Singh Mahinder Singh.
“The publication of the impugned article and the headline were based on the comments made by the said Ranjit.
“We acknowledge that the publication of the impugned article including but not limited to the headline, was baseless, in light of Ranjit’a apology.”
The consent judgement was reached after six hours of deliberation by the lawyers of all parties involved.
Meanwhile, Anwar’s counsel Ramkarpal Singh Deo praised Rosilah for allowing the late Karpal Singh’s wife, Gurmit Kaur, to appear before the court to hear Ranjit’s apology to Karpal.
“Our sincere appreciation to the judge, who took the unprecedented step to allow Gurmit to represent the late Karpal, despite him not being part of the suit.”
In the Aug 24, 2016 suit, Anwar had sued Ranjit, who is former Penang Bar’s criminal law committee chairman, NST and Adrian Lai, and its former reporter, Looi.
Anwar had sought damages deemed fit by the court and also an apology by all defendants to be published in the NST.
Ranjit, in his defence statement, had said his statement was not defamatory and was “fair comment on matters of public interest”.
It its joint statement of claim, NST, Lai and Looi said the report was based on statements made by Ranjit and politician Zamil Ibrahim. NST says it had a moral obligation to publish stories which were of public interest.
Anwar was represented by Sangeet Kaur Deo, Ramkarpal Singh Deo and S Raveentharan, while Ranjit was represented by Baljit Singh.
NST, Lai and Looi were represented by M Reza Hassan, Ellia Zuraini Mat Zin and Umi Farhanah Mohd Nasir from Raja Riza & Associates.-FMT