Appeals court reduces damages awarded to Anwar in defamation suit against TV3

03 May 2021 / 16:44 H.

PUTRAJAYA: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will only get a global sum of RM600,000 in general and aggravated damages instead of RM1.1 million in his defamation suit against TV3 for linking him to the Lahad Datu intrusion in Sabah in 2013.

This follows a decision today by a Court of Appeal three-member bench led by Justice Datuk Has Zanah Mehat to reduce the quantum of damages by setting aside the High Court’s award of RM250,000 each in aggravated and exemplary damages to the Port Dickson Member of Parliament.

Justice Has Zanah had instead substituted the High Court’s order with a global amount of RM600,000 in general and aggravated damages.

“We allow TV3’s appeal in part. We vary the award in the (High Court) order dated May 14, 2018, by setting aside the award for exemplary damages and the separate award for aggravated damages,” she said.

Justice Has Zanah who presided with Justices Datuk P. Ravinthran and Datuk Indera Mohd Sofian Abd. Razak, heard TV3’s appeal on the quantum of damages via video conferencing. The television station had withdrawn its appeal on liability.

Justice Has Zanah also ordered each party to bear their own costs of appeal.

In 2018, High Court judge Judge Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim allowed Anwar’s defamation lawsuit against TV3 after finding that the television station had failed to practice responsible journalism when it did not seek verification on the authenticity of the news before airing it in its Buletin Utama on March 2, 2013.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court had ordered TV3 and the then Media Prima Bhd News and Current Affairs, Radio and Television Network group managing editor Datuk Shaharudin Abd Latif to pay a total sum of RM1.1 million to Anwar which was RM600,000 in general damages, and RM250,000 respectively in aggravated and exemplary damages.

Besides TV3, Anwar had also named Utusan Melayu and then Utusan Group editor-chief Datuk Abdul Aziz Ishak as defendants in his suit, but on Oct 5, 2016, he (Anwar) reached an agreement with Utusan Melayu to settle the case.

His case against TV3 proceeded as both sides could not reach a settlement.

Anwar sued them over the articles ‘Opposition Leader Linked To Intrusion?’ and ‘Three Groups Were Responsible’, which were published in Utusan Malaysia on March 2, 2013.

He alleged that between 8 pm and 9 pm on the same day, TV3, Shaharudin broadcasted the news on the Lahad Datu intrusion, based on the Utusan Malaysia newspaper reports in Buletin Utama.

In the appeal proceedings today, TV3’s counsel Liew Teck Huat said the court should award a global sum of damages to Anwar and not give separate awards for general damages and aggravated damages.

Lawyer J. Leela representing Anwar argued that the quantum of damages awarded by the High Court was not excessive based on the gravity of the defamatory allegations. — Bernama

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