KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 7): Terengganu Sultanah Nur Zahirah has filed an appeal against the High Court's dismissal of her defamation suit against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown and two others last week.
Datuk Mohd Haziq Pillay, the Sultanah's counsel, informed the media that an appeal has been filed in the Court of Appeal.
"We have, on behalf of HRH Tuanku Nur Zahirah, the Sultanah of Terengganu, filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal against the decision of judicial commissioner Dr Johan Lee [Kien How @ Mohd Johan Lee]," he said in a message to the media.
The JC dismissed the suit on Oct 31, saying that although there was a case of mistaken identity — where Rewcastle-Brown had mistaken Sultanah Nur Zahirah for her sister-in-law, Tunku Datuk Rahimah Sultan Mahmud — the statement in question was not defamatory.
The defendants in the suit — Rewcastle-Brown, Gerakbudaya Enterprise publisher Chong Ton Sin and printer Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd — were awarded RM80,000 in costs.
Sultanah Nur Zahirah’s suit, filed in November 2018, revolved around a statement in Rewcastle-Brown's book titled The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of the 1MDB Exposé.
The impugned statement is: “Jho (fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low) was also friendly with a key player in Terengganu, the wife of the Sultan, whose acquiescence was needed to set up the fund and he later cited her support as having been crucial to his obtaining the advisory position."
The Sultanah sought, among others, general damages of RM100 million each from the defendants.
The Sultanah alleged that Rewcastle-Brown had made a disparaging statement about her in the book, and that the statement could be taken to mean that she was involved in corrupt practices and interfered with the state’s administration.
She also claimed that the statement in the book linked her as being “friendly” with Jho Low, and the statement construed her as having helped Jho Low become the adviser to Terengganu Investment Authority, the predecessor of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
During the hearing of the suit in August, Rewcastle-Brown testified that she made an “honest mistake” by naming Sultanah Nur Zahirah in the impugned passage, as she had mistaken the Sultanah for her sister-in-law, Tunku Datuk Rahimah.
The journalist said that she had made corrections to the passage in the book’s subsequent print runs.