‘Khairy’s appeal to proceed’

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has fixed Nov 2 for hearing of an appeal filed by Khairy Jamaluddin in relation to a defamation suit by Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim after allowing a final adjournment in the matter.

Justice Lee Swee Seng, who chaired a three-man Bench, said the case must continue on the next date given.

“For some reason if the lead counsel can’t argue the case on the last adjourned date, then co-counsel has to rise to the occasion.

“Come rain or shine, fire or flood, pandemic or no pandemic, we will proceed. Would that be fair?” Justice Lee said in a Zoom proceeding here yesterday.

The court was told by Khairy’s lawyer Sarah Abishegam that lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah requested for the case to be adjourned as he was unable to conduct the matter due to a rheumatoid pain affecting his right shoulder.

“He (Muhammad Shafee) has developed a fever. We have put in a letter to the court this morning. We apologise about this,” she said.

Justice Lee said while the court was sympathetic to health issues, the case was long pending since 2017.

“The case should be disposed of as soon as possible this year. The next adjourn date shall be the final adjourn date and no further adjournment will be allowed,” he added.

Lawyer J. Leela, who represented Anwar, said she had no objection to the circumstances.

Other judges on the Bench were Justices Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera and Darryl Goon Siew Chye.

The Court of Appeal was initially scheduled to hear the merits of Khairy’s appeal against paying RM150,000 in damages to Anwar, in a defamation suit filed by Anwar over Khairy’s speech in 2008.

Anwar filed the suit on March 7, 2008, alleging that the latter, as then Umno Youth deputy chief had uttered defamatory words and caused the posting on websites, including Malaysiakini.com of a video clip entitled “Anwar and kin no threat”.

The PKR leader claimed 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.

In his statement of defence filed on Oct 8, 2010, Khairy said he relied on the defence of justification and qualified privilege.

On Sept 29, 2017, a Kuala Lumpur High Court found that Khairy had defamed Anwar and ordered the defendant to pay RM150,000 in damages as well as RM60,000 in costs to Anwar.

Khairy appealed against the judgment but in February 2018, the Court of Appeal struck out his appeal after allowing Anwar’s application to annul the notice of appeal on technical grounds.

In December, last year, the Federal Court ruled that Khairy could challenge the High Court’s decision and ordered for it to be heard on its merits in the Court of Appeal.

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