Najib's lawyers threaten legal action against Malaysian Bar president for defamation

·2-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 — Three lawyers involved in former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's SRC International case today threatened to sue the Malaysian Bar over a press statement that claimed the lawyers were unprofessional, unless a "full and unequivocal retraction and apology" was given.

According to Free Malaysia Today, lawyers Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim, Liew Teck Huat and Rueben Mathiavanam said they would initiate legal action against Bar president Karen Cheah Yee Lynn if she does not apologise and retract the statement on their conduct in Najib's appeal in the Federal Court within five days.

In a letter, the trio cited the Bar's press statement on Aug 19 which suggested the lawyers had "deliberately acted unprofessionally”, "with an improper agenda to abuse the process of the court”, and that the lawyers resorted to "unscrupulous strategies”, with their "conduct designed to pervert the course of justice” and "bring the legal profession into disrepute”.

They also claimed that the Bar's statements insinuated the lawyers acted "in flagrant contempt of court", were "unprofessional, incompetent and ignorant of the professional rules of practice and etiquette” and were ultimately "not fit to practice as advocates and solicitors".

The press statement was picked up and reported in various local media on the same day.

"By publishing and disseminating the press statement and causing the impugned statements to be published by online news portals, Cheah intended to and did ensure that it received the most extensive coverage possible... across the entire Malaysian public”.

"You further knew... that Najib’s case had attracted wide international media coverage and that your imputations would be disseminated to the international community as well,” they said in a letter issued via their law firm Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew & Partners on Aug 26.

On top of an apology, the letter warned the Bar president to not make such statements again.

Zaid’s law firm was appointed on July 25 to replace Shafee & Co in Najib's final SRC International criminal appeal over the misappropriation of RM42 million, with Hisyam Teh Poh Teik as lead counsel in place of Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

After being denied by the court for additional time to prepare for the appeal, Najib dropped the firm and the lawyers from representing him.

On Aug 23, the Federal Court unanimously upheld Najib’s conviction on all seven charges of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering, with a sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment and a fine of RM210 million with immediate effect.