Published: Monday January 21, 2013 MYT 12:04:00 PM
Updated: Monday January 21, 2013 MYT 2:54:09 PM
High Court rules in favour of Anwar in defamation case against Utusan
By QISHIN TARIQ
KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here ruled in favour of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in his RM50mil defamation suit against Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Bhd and its chief editor for publishing two articles on his comments to BBC during an interview on homosexuality laws.
Justice Datuk V T Singham ordered RM45,000 in costs to be paid by the defendants to Anwar. He also set Feb 15 for case management to assess the damages to be awarded.
In his judgement, Justice Singham ruled the words in the articles were defamatory and could bring down Anwar's reputation and political standing by suggesting he would not make a suitable leader of the federal Government.
He said the defendants had failed to prove justification, saying there was no evidence they did not intend to defame the plaintiff and that they had failed in their professional duty as journalists.
"They have also failed to prove fair comment. Public interest was not served as Utusan Malaysia did not publish and reproduce the plaintiff's statement in full," he said.
Justice Singham said that nowhere in the BBC interview did Anwar say he promoted gay and lesbian rights.
Justice Singham said the least the defendants should have done was apologise or clarify the article instead of choosing to ignore the legal notice issued by Anwar, leaving judicial action the only avenue left for clarification.
On Jan 20 2012, Anwar filed a defamation suit seeking RM50mil in damages, alleging that the defendants had published two articles on the front page and page 10 of the Utusan Malaysia newspaper, dated Jan 17, 2012, in relation to his BBC interview.
In his lawsuit, Anwar named Utusan Melayu and its editor-in-chief Datuk Abdul Aziz Ishak as defendants.
Lawyer Datuk Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin represented Utusan Melayu, while Anwar was represented by N. Surendran.
Firoz applied for a stay of assessment of damages, pending an appeal.
However, the court denied the stay and ordered the defendants submit their notice of appeal first.
Decision on Anwar vs Utusan over BBC interview on Jan 21