KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court was told today that investigative journalist Clare Rewcastle-Brown appeared to have admitted she made defamatory statements against Terengganu’s Sultanah Nur Zahirah over the latter’s alleged involvement in assisting Low Taek Jho get an advisory position in the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA).
Lawyer Haaziq Pillay Abdullah said Rewcastle- Brown had, in the first edition of the book, named the person who had helped Low get an advisory role as the “sultan’s wife” but in the second edition, she had changed it to the “sultan’s sister”.
Haaziq, representing the sultanah, said the journalist was clearly referring to Terengganu ruler Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin’s wife in her book, “The Sarawak Report – The Inside Story of 1MDB Expose”.
“The need to call witnesses to testify on the reference element (that the book refers to the sultan’s wife) does not arise because the impugned statement referred to Her Royal Highness,” he said in pleading for a summary judgment in her RM300 million lawsuit against the journalist instead of going for a full trial.
Haaziq also said the Sarawak Report editor later amended the impugned statement referring to Sultanah Nur Zahirah by substituting her name with that of Sultan Mizan’s sister.
In the book, Rewcastle-Brown had said that fugitive businessman Low, popularly known as Jho Low, was friendly with a key player in Terengganu, the wife of the sultan, whose acquiescence was needed to set up the fund, and that he later cited her support as having been crucial to his obtaining the advisory position.
Sultanah Nur Zahirah filed the suit against Rewcastle-Brown, publisher Chong Ton Sin and printer Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd last year over claims that she was a close associate of Low, and that she had helped him to obtain an advisory position in TIA.
TIA was taken over by the federal government in 2009 and renamed as 1MDB.
Sultanah Nur Zahirah also claimed that Rewcastle-Brown’s statement in her book implied that the sultan’s wife had interfered in the state administration.
She said Rewcastle-Brown’s statement was defamatory and had tarnished her reputation.
She is seeking RM300 million in damages from Rewcastle- Brown, Chong and Vinlin Press, as well as an order to stop the sale and publication of the book.
The hearing before High Court judge Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim continues on Oct 18, when Rewcastle-Brown’s lawyer Americk Sidhu will give his submission.