Rights lawyer Paulsen wins RM100,000 damages in defamation suit

Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen. (Twitter pic)

PUTRAJAYA: Human rights lawyer Eric Paulsen was awarded RM100,000 in damages today after the Court of Appeal allowed his defamation appeal against a Muslim activist on claims that he is an “instigator”.

Lawyer Latheefa Koya said a three-member bench chaired by Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said Paulsen had proven all the elements required to prove his case.

“The Court of Appeal found that the statement by (the defendant) Mohamed Hafiz Mohamed Nordin was defamatory,” she said.

Other members of the bench were Mary Lim and Hasnah Mohammed Hashim.

Latheefa, who appeared with N Surendran and Shahid Adli Kamarudin, said the bench also awarded Paulsen RM10,000 in costs.

On July 27 last year, High Court judge Zaki Abdul Wahab said Paulsen, who is also executive director for Lawyers for Liberty, had proven his case against Hafiz as the statement referred to him.

However, Zaki held that Paulsen failed to show that the statement uttered by the Pembela activist had lowered his standing in society, and that it had caused the public to view him in a negative light.

Paulsen’s defamation suit started when Muslim rights group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) sued him in 2015 for alleging that Isma was an “extremist” group.

Paulsen filed a counterclaim in October the same year against Isma and Hafiz for publishing the article, “Jangan biar Eric Paulsen bebas tanpa perbicaraan” (Do not free Eric Paulsen without trial) on its website, implying that Paulsen was a liar and instigator.

Isma and Paulsen entered into a consent judgment in March 2016, with both parties agreeing to withdraw the main suit and counterclaim.

However, Paulsen’s suit against Hafiz proceeded to trial as the Islamic activist did not agree to the terms of the settlement.

Court dismisses Eric Paulsen’s suit against Muslim activist