PETALING JAYA: Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown has appointed a local legal firm to contest a RM100 million defamation suit filed against her by the former special officer to former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali.
V Mabel Sheila Muttiah’s lawyer David Gurupatham said the firm, Suflan T H Liew & Partners, wrote to him last week that they would be representing Rewcastle-Brown.
“They have denied the contents in a letter of demand which we sent to Rewcastle-Brown earlier and informed us that they have instructions to appear for her and contest the suit,” David said.
As such, the lawyer said he would be withdrawing an application for leave to serve the writ of summons and statement of claim against Rewcastle-Brown in the United Kingdom.
“The appointment of the local firm has now simplified matters in an otherwise complicated procedure. We will serve the legal papers on them soon,” he told FMT.
David said he would inform the High Court registrar on the latest development, including the withdrawal of the leave application filed last week for which a case management was scheduled on Sept 17.
Mabel said the suit was filed for “a very serious allegation levelled against a member of the administration of justice”.
In the statement of claim, Mabel is asking for aggravated and exemplary damages, together with an injunction against causing further defamation, as well as a mandatory order for Rewcastle-Brown to remove the posting from the website.
The Sarawak Report article, titled “How AG’s Office connived to prevent a second post-mortem on Kevin Morais – exclusive expose”, had alleged that Mabel had sent texts to the family members of the late deputy public prosecutor, urging them to expedite the cremation of his remains to prevent a second post-mortem.
The remains of Morais were found in a steel drum after he was kidnapped from his car on the way to work in September 2015.
A former army doctor and five others have been charged with his murder and the trial is going on.
V Mabel Muthayyah, a former secretariat head in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, has filed an RM100 million lawsuit against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown for defamation over a 2015 article.
Speaking to Malaysiakini today, Mabel’s lawyer David Gurupatham said Rewcastle-Brown is being sued for “a very serious allegation levelled against a member of the administration of justice.”
“The claim is RM100 million inclusive of aggravated and exemplary damages against Rewcastle-Brown, together with an injunction from further causing defamation, as well as a mandatory order for her to remove such posting from the website,” he said.
The Sarawak Report article, titled “How AG’s Office connived to prevent a second postmortem on Kevin Morais – Exclusive exposé,” alleged that Mabel sent texts to the family members of late deputy public prosecutor Anthony Kevin Morais, urging them to expedite the cremation of his remains to prevent a second postmortem.
The article also claimed that when the cajoling proved unsuccessful, bribes were offered and threats were made.
Gurupatham said the suit was filed after a letter was sent to Rewcastle-Brown demanding a public apology, which she refused to accept.
“We sent the letter to her solicitor in Kuala Lumpur, but they returned the document to us, saying that they have not received instruction to ‘accept service’, which is fine.
“So we sent the letter to her email and another copy by courier to her London address.
“However, we received confirmation from the courier company a few days ago that ‘the recipient refused delivery’,” he said.
Currently, Mabel is a judge at the Sessions Court in Petaling Jaya.
Gurupatham said that Rewcastle-Brown had fabricated a story out of purported screenshots of WhatsApp messages between Mabel and Morais’ brothers.
“The messages were not in chronological order, and she created a story out of the messages.”
The lawyer also claimed that Rewcastle-Brown never contacted Mabel to ascertain the allegations.
“Our client respects investigative journalism. However, it must be done in a responsible way.
“They (Sarawak Report) knew who and where she was. They could have asked her about the allegations, but they never did.
“That is irresponsible. They also did not verify the allegations as well as the WhatsApp messages with our client,” he said.