Ex-Perak MB gets RM250,000, Utusan’s appeal dismissed

PUTRAJAYA: Former Perak Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin is now certain of getting RM250,000 in damages against an Umno-linked publication for defaming him over the WWW1 number plate bought by the Johor Sultan.

This follows today’s unanimous decision by the Federal Court to refuse a grant of leave to publisher Utusan Melayu (M) Berhad against a Court of Appeal judgment.

“We are dismissing the leave application as it lacked merit,” said Richard Malanjum who chaired a three-man bench.

Lawyer Mohd Hafarizam Harun appeared for the publisher.

The bench did not invite lawyers Asmuni Awi and Mohd Fitri Asmuni, who represented Nizar, to rebut Hafarizam’s legal questions posed to obtain leave for the apex court to hear the merits of the appeal.

In Dec 2013, the Court of Appeal dismissed Utusan’s appeal against a High Court ruling ordering it to pay RM250,000 in damages to Nizar.

In her ruling, Justice Zaharah Ibrahim had said the Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court that Nizar had proved his claim against Utusan .

She said Utusan’s defence of justification, fair comment and qualified privilege were not applicable.

Justice Zaharah had said then that there was malice on the part of Utusan, with evidence showing that its reporter had known that the words were not true, and that he was reckless in his reporting.

Nizar had filed a RM50 million suit against Utusan in July 2012 over the publication of an article in the newspaper on Nizar’s Twitter comments regarding the Sultan of Johor’s RM520,000 bid for the registration number, WWW1.

Nizar had said he had posted a statement on May 28, 2012, that the sum of money could be used to build 20 houses for the poor.

However, Nizar claimed, the Utusan article had implied that he was trying to incite the people to hate the Ruler for using public funds to purchase the registration number.

Nizar, had also been awarded RM200,000 in damages against Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Bhd (TV3) for broadcasting a defamatory report over the same issue.