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10 APRIL 2024

Sunday, December 31, 2023

High Court dismisses defamation suit brought by lawyer against deputy IGP

SHAH ALAM: The High Court here has dismissed a defamation suit brought by lawyer Kamal Hisham Jaafar against Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay.

High Court judge Justice Tee Geok Hock dismissed Kamal's suit on Thursday (Dec 28), stating that Ayob Khan had not mentioned Kamal's name throughout a press conference in 2021.

Kamal was also ordered to pay RM20,000 in costs.

Kamal had sued Ayob Khan in 2021 following a press conference, where he mentioned that the police had arrested a lawyer for allegedly cheating an advertising company out of RM185,062.

Ayob Khan, who was then the Johor police chief, claimed that the lawyer had ties with the Johor royal family and added that he was previously convicted for money laundering and criminal breach of trust (CBT).

Kamal claimed that the high ranking police officer had wanted to injure his reputation during the press conference.

In his judgment, Tee ruled that the defendant (Ayob Khan) did not say anything which could lead a listener to make any reasonable inference that the suspect was the same lawyer who attracted much publicity in the newspapers a few years before the press conference.

The court also heard that Kamal was charged with 17 charges consisting of CBT, money laundering and offences under the Companies Act at the Johor Baru Sessions Court in 2015.

He pleaded guilty to an alternative charge under the Companies Act and he was fined RM30,000 in 2018.

The court also took into consideration the other 16 charges before handing down the sentence. However, no conviction was recorded.

Tee said that Ayob Khan had proven the balance of probabilities that Kamal had admitted to committing CBT and money laundering offences in the past.

He added that the lack of a formal court record for conviction for such offences did not materially injure Kamal's reputation.

"To a reasonable man, in the context of defamation, there is no real difference between a recorded conviction of an accused person and admission made in the court by the accused that he had committed the offence.

"In both situations, the reasonable man's understanding is that the accused person was guilty of the offence," he said.

The judge also ruled that there was no malice by Ayob Khan to injure Kamal's reputation, based on Ayob Khan's tone and facial expression during the press conference.

"Based on my observation, this court finds that the defendant merely read the press statement as prepared by ACP Siva in an official and professional manner,” said Tee.

"The video recording of the press conference shows the defendant did not mention the plaintiff's name at all during the press conference or during the question-and-answer- session after issuing the press statement. There was no evidence or indication to suggest any malice at all,” he added.

Tee then said that there was no finding of intention on the part of the defendant to shame the plaintiff's character, image and career.

According to court documents sighted by The Star, the court viewed that there was a need or duty of the part of the police, including the chief police officer to impart information to the public at large.

It was also stated in the document that there is a reciprocal interest on the part of the public to receive that information in relation to important matters and/or matters of public interest.

These matters include but are not limited to incidents or complaints of individuals impersonating as representatives of a Royal Palace, government department or a high office bearer of the government and incidents or trends of scams or criminal activities such as investment and Internet scams. - Star

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