KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 — Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown has responded to a legal letter from the Terengganu Sultanah over the latter’s claim of being defamed by the former’s book on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial scandal, lawyers confirmed.
Lawyer Americk Sidhu confirmed that he was representing Rewcastle-Brown and her book’s publisher Gerakbudaya Enterprise and printer Vinlin Press.
He said his clients had already responded to lawyers representing Terengganu Sultanah, Sultanah Nur Zahirah, on October 2.
“They have made accusations in the letter of demand. We have denied these accusations and we have said that we didn’t feel what was printed in the book was defamatory of the Sultanah. That’s basically it,” he told Malay Mail when contacted today.
“We said our client Clare has already clarified this in her article which she published on 27 September.
“She explained what she meant and she explained the context of that paragraph was in relation to Jho Low and not the Sultanah, and anybody reading that would understand that the Sultanah is not implicated in anything.
“So we just brought it to their attention that we can’t see there’s any libel here and we are just waiting for their response,” he said of his client’s written reply.
Americk said his clients had also drawn Sultanah Nur Zahirah’s lawyers’ attention to what had been reported by the media many years ago, adding that Rewcastle-Brown had based the allegedly offending paragraph on past news reports where Jho Low had claimed to have good ties with the Terengganu royal family.
Americk said a second letter was sent on October 3 to Sultanah Nur Zahirah’s lawyers, but said the contents were “without prejudice” and could not be disclosed.
“The letter I got back from them today said they are obtaining their client’s instructions and will revert to us,” he added.
The book referred to is Rewcastle-Brown’s recently launched book titled The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of the 1MDB Exposé, which the Terengganu Sultanah’s lawyers have alleged contains defamatory remarks on its third page.
Last week, Sultanah Nur Zahirah’s lawyer Datuk Mohd Haaziq Pillay Abdullah told Malay Mail that a letter of demand has been said to Rewcastle-Brown and the two companies, with an eight-day deadline for them to comply with demands sought or risk being sued for defamation.
Among the demands were RM100 million in compensation, a written apology and public retraction of the allegedly defamatory statements by Rewcastle-Brown, as well as a halt to the selling and circulation of the book.
Today is the last day of the eight-day period.
Mohd Haaziq today confirmed to Malay Mail that Americk Sidhu has already responded on behalf of his three clients within the eight-day deadline.
Mohd Haaziq said the response to the letter of demand was via a letter dated October 2, adding that Americk had also subsequently sent a second letter on October 3.
“I am waiting for my client’s instructions,” he said when contacted.
Sarawak Report had on September 27 issued a statement where it apologised if Sultanah Nur Zahirah had been “upset by any misinterpretations” of the book’s content, but the latter’s lawyer had previously said such remarks do not amount to an apology.
Among other things, Sarawak Report had on September 27 clarified that the book does not suggest that the Terengganu Sultanah conspired with Jho Low or was personally involved in 1MDB or its precursor Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA).
Sarawak Report had also then said a careful reading of the short allegedly offending passage in the book should make it clear that there was no allegation made against anyone in the Terengganu royal family about the 1MDB affair, which took place after Terengganu’s involvement in the fund ceased.