Newspaper publishing company, editor fails in appeal to strike out defamation suit

02 Apr 2018 / 18:12 H.

PUTRAJAYA: A newspaper publishing company and an editor today failed in their appeal to strike out a RM10 million defamation lawsuit filed by Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
This followed a decision by a three-man bench of the Court of Appeal, comprising Justices Datuk Rohana Yusuf, Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat and Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, in dismissing the appeal by Sabah Publishing Sdn Bhd and Daily Express editor, James Sarda.
Justice Rohana, who chaired the bench, said the bench was mindful that striking out was a serious order to be made.
She also ordered Ismail Sabri to make amendments to his pleadings in the statement of claim with regards to the cause of action for defamation in the peninsula within two weeks from today.
On Oct 9 last year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed the application by Sabah Publishing and its editor to strike out the defamation suit.
Ismail Sabri filed the lawsuit in March last year at the Kuala Lumpur High Court claiming that Sabah Publishing and James had wrongfully and maliciously published three articles in the Daily Express, dated Sept 6, 2016, on protected turtle eggs served at a dinner function in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah which he attended in 2015.
It is illegal to consume or to be in possession of turtle eggs in Sabah.
Ismail Sabri, who is Bera Member of Parliament, said the defamatory words against him were wrong, baseless, ill-intended and had tarnished his reputation as a public leader.
He is seeking an apology from the appellants, as well as general damages, aggravated damages and exemplary damages.
Sabah Publishing and James, in their statement of defence, denied publishing and printing the articles with wrongful and bad intentions.
They said the articles published were produced under conditional safeguards and without malice.
Sabah Publishing and James contended that the suit should have been filed at the Kota Kinabalu High Court, instead of the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
However, High Court judge Datuk Nordin Hassan held that the suit could be heard in Kuala Lumpur as the article in question was also published on the paper's website and was accessible in Peninsular Malaysia.
Lawyer Ragunath Kesavan represented Ismail Sabri, while Bhag Singh appeared for the respondents. — Bernama

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