PUTRAJAYA: Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin can defend himself in the RM100mil defamation suit brought against him by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
This is because a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal led by Datuk Mohamed Apandi Ali, has unanimously allowed the Umno Youth chief's appeal to set aside a High Court order, which precluded him from defending himself in the civil suit.
Apandi, who presided on the panel on Friday with Datuk Linton Albertand Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, said in the light of the facts and circumstances of the case, the court could not sustain the precluded order of the High Court.
The panel ordered the trial to proceed before another judge.
He said the essence of the case was that Khairy had failed to comply with the High Court's directives given during case management to file various documents, such as witness list and summary of the case, and to look into the issues of the case.
Apandi said based on the court proceeding, it did not show to the panel as to how the defence's failure of not adhering to the directives could have caused the trial to be delayed.
"We must remind everybody including ourselves that we don't condone non-compliances of any court order," said Apandi.
However, in this particular case, to issue an order, which was unclear in terms, could have resulted in an absurd situation.
He said the judge should have given an order to strike out Khairy's defence, instead she gave a different order.
On March 7, 2008, Anwar filed the suit against Khairy claiming that the latter, as then Umno Youth deputy chief, had uttered defamatory words and caused the posting on websites, including Malaysiakini.com, a video clip entitled, 'Anwar and kin no threat'.
Anwar claimed that the video clip on Malaysiakini.com contained defamatory words spoken by Khairy at a 'ceramah' in Lembah Pantai here, on or about Feb 20, 2008.
Khairy, in his statement of defence filed on Oct 8, 2010, said he relied on the defence of justification and qualified privilege.
On Aug 13, 2012, High Court judge Datuk Hue Siew Kheng issued an order precluding Khairy from defending himself as Khairy's counsel did not comply with the court's directions during case management for parties to file various documents, which were supposed to be provided to the court before trial.
On Nov 26, last year, Justice Hue dismissed Khairy's application to set aside her order to preclude Khairy from defending himself in the suit. He appealed to the Court of Appeal.
Khairy was represented by lawyer Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah while Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah acted for Anwar. - Bernama
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