It was an honest mistake, says Rewcastle-Brown over book passage

KUALA LUMPUR: Clare Rewcastle-Brown, who is being sued by the Sultanah of Terengganu Sultanah Nur Zahirah over an allegedly defamatory statement in her book - “The Sarawak Report-The Inside 1MDB Expose” - told the High Court here that it was an honest mistake on her part when writing that passage in 2018.

The 63-year-old editor of Sarawak Report who testified via video conferencing from London, said that passage was from her recollection of reading the news report years ago in 2010 where, fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, mentioned how he came to know the Sultan of Terengganu.

ALSO READ: I have no involvement in setting up TIA, says Sultanah Nur Zahirah

"It was an honest mistake on my part which I believed to be true when I wrote it. There was no malice in my writing of the passage in the said book.

“I do not know the plaintiff (Sultanah Nur Zahirah) personally and my work has not shown any improprieties on her part. I have no reason to defame her and I certainly did not intend for the passage to injure her reputation or degrade her.

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"The said book, spanning more than 500 pages, was bound to contain one or two inaccuracies. Nevertheless, I am thorough with my research, particularly when it comes to making any allegations of impropriety.

"In the matter of Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), which in fact introduced Jho Low to the Sultan, it was however insignificant, as there was no impropriety or corruption in this act, or of being acquainted with Jho Low,” she said in her witness statement.

ALSO READ: Court dismisses stay application in Terengganu Sultanah’s defamation suit against Rewcastle-Brown

When explaining her knowledge of Low on the set up of TIA, she said from her research, she knew that Low had links to the royal family of Terengganu, which led to the founding of TIA and later renamed as 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

"This again, is public knowledge. Prior to 1MDB’s scandal rising to Malaysian public awareness in 2015, Jho Low himself had made it publicly known since 2010 of his involvement in the founding of TIA, through the Sultan of Terengganu. This can be seen, for example, from an interview with Jho Low by The Star, published on July 30, 2010,” she said.

ALSO READ: Rewcastle-Brown seeks to stay proceedings of Sultanah Nur Zahirah's defamation suit against her

She added that Low had links to the Terengganu royal family members and this was undisputed public knowledge as he was friendly with the members back in 2009.

Rewcastle-Brown added that Low was introduced to the Sultan of Terengganu through family members, a fact that Low himself had publicly admitted, without controversy.

ASLO READ: Interpol urged to clarify standing on arrest warrant for Rewcastle Brown

"For this honest mistake, I have apologised. But I do not accept the plaintiff’s (Sultanah Nur Zahirah) strained misinterpretation of the passage,” she said.

On her referring to the plaintiff as a "key player in Terengganu”, the editor said this was meant for the Sultan’s sister, who had not taken umbrage with the second print of the book.

"I certainly did not mean by ‘key player’ that she interfered with matters of state or used her position to influence matters of state, or was running the state of Terengganu. The words ‘key player’ is innocuous. I just meant someone of importance,” she added.

She also said that she wrote the book because it was important that the public knew, in a comprehensive manner, of how the large-scale sacking of the sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB came to pass.

"When ordinary members of the public have access to such details and information, public debate and political discourse about such issues become more meaningful.

“The passage provided an important historical narrative of how 1MDB came to be from its roots as the Terengganu state fund TIA, and the personalities involved, before it became controlled by then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak as 1MDB.

"It was also important to know how Jho Low (prior to becoming publicised as a ‘playboy’ or having the ability to abuse positions of trust and power) first became involved in TIA in 2009 and obtained the role of special adviser to the Sultan of Terengganu.

“He did so by knowing members of the Terengganu royal family, leading to him being introduced to the Sultan,” she said.

The trial, which started last Monday, came to an end today after five witnesses, comprising three plaintiff witnesses and two defendants, completed giving their testimony.

High Court Judicial Commissioner Dr John Lee Kien How @ Mohd Johan Lee fixed Sept 20 to hear oral submissions from both parties.

Sultanah Nur Zahirah filed the suit on Nov 21, 2018, claiming that the said statement, among others, meant that she was involved in corruption and interfering in the administration of the Terengganu government and that she had helped Low become a TIA adviser. - Bernama

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