PETALING JAYA: The decision by Abdul Hadi Awang to settle out of court the defamation suit against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown does not spell a victory for him, a deputy minister said today.
In a statement, Mohamed Hanipa Maidin said when a defamation suit is not pursued, it cannot be determined whether what was reported by the whistleblower site was a lie.
“Based on the terms I read, there is no mention that Sarawak Report has recanted its allegations or issued an apology, which can be interpreted as a concession or admitting to, in this case, publishing a defamatory piece,” said Hanipa, who is deputy de-facto law minister.
Earlier today, Hadi agreed to undisclosed terms of a settlement with Rewcastle-Brown.
The PAS president is said to have consented to withdraw his claims against the London-based journalist as the defendant. Rewcastle-Brown was said to have similarly withdrawn her counterclaims.
No order was made as to costs.
Hadi filed his defamation suit at the London High Court of Justice. following an article Rewcastle-Brown wrote, which Sarawak Report published on Aug 6, 2017.
The eight-paragraph article had alleged that RM90 million was “reckoned” to have entered the accounts of top PAS leaders to woo them into supporting Umno and Barisan Nasional.
In her counter-claim, filed on Oct 11 the same year, she charged that Hadi conspired with then prime minister Najib Razak or his agents to discredit her and the portal.
Hanipa, a former PAS legal bureau chairman, also claimed that he knew Hadi would not go ahead with the suit, but refused to elaborate.
He noted that the decision to withdraw the suit without cost meant that Hadi will not be able to claim his lawyer’s fee.