PUTRAJAYA 15 Jan: The Court of Appeal upheld the High Court decision which had ruled earlier that two articles published by Utusan Malaysia (M) Sdn Bhd were defamatory and related to opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s interview with BBC on homosexual laws, two years ago.
A three-member panel headed by Justice Datuk Zaharah Ibrahim ruled that there was no merit in the appellant’s appeal after perusing the ground of judgement and note of the proceedings of the High Court.
The panel ordered cost of RM25,000 to be paid to the respondent.
The court also dismissed the application by UMNO to intervene in the appeal. However, no cost was ordered.
The other two panel members were Justice Datuk Mah Weng Kwai and Datuk K. Anantham.
Later, counsel Abu Bakar As-Sidek told reporters that UMNO made the application over the issue whether the party had influence over editorial policy of the daily.
The High Court last year ruled that the defendants Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Bhd and its chief editor, Datuk Abdul Aziz Ishak, failed to establish all the statutory defenses, namely justification, fair comment and qualified privilege.
On Jan 10 2012, Anwar filed a defamation suit seeking RM50mil in damages alleging the defendants had published the two articles in the Utusan Malaysia newspaper, on Jan 17, 2012, in relation to his BBC interview.
He had contended that the words implied he was unfit to hold public office and a Muslim leader who held views inconsistent with the teachings of Islam.
During today’s appeal, Anwar was represented by lawyer R. Sivarasa, while Datuk Firuz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin appeared for Utusan.
—Taken from Bernama