KUALA LUMPUR, March 1 — PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had to cover Sarawak Report’s RM1.4 million in legal fees to withdraw his defamation lawsuit, Clare Rewcastle-Brown confirmed today.
The Sarawak Report editor said this was not stated in the mutual settlement as Hadi’s lawyers had placed the sum in escrow prior to the termination, she wrote on her website.
Rewcastle-Brown included an excerpt of a letter of undertaking confirming the amount, and said the payment was the only item from the settlement both parties had agreed to remain silent over.
“The out of court agreement did not oblige Sarawak Report to provide any of the remedies sought in Hadi’s claim, such as keeping silent on the subject of Umno payments to PAS or anything else, since Sarawak Report had refused to apologise for its remarks or to surrender its commitment to fair reporting in the public interest,” Rewcastle-Brown added.
She also derided Hadi and PAS leaders for paying the RM1.4 million in order to terminate the lawsuit, saying they would have spent significantly more had they pursued the case to the end and ultimately lost.
The Briton also asserted that the inconsistencies in the party’s claims and statements could have landed Hadi and his witnesses in legal trouble, resulting in his premature withdrawal.
“If they continued to contradict each other in front of an English Court someone would have committed perjury for lying in a London law suit (‘sharia compliant’ lying is not recognised in the UK civil court any more than in most Muslim countries).”
Rewcastle-Brown added she was abandoning the confidentiality pact as PAS leaders have breached the agreement by variously misrepresenting it or denying its existence when they should have declined comment.
The Sarawak Report editor declined comment when asked to confirm the RM1.4 million payment yesterday.
“Sarawak Report therefore is entitled to consider itself released from confidentiality also, in order to be able to tell the truth to the Malaysian people who are being misled,” she said, appending a photograph of a cheque for the amount.
Hadi had sued Rewcastle-Brown in 2017 over a report the preceding year alleging PAS leaders took RM90 million to support Umno and Barisan Nasional ahead of the 14th general election.
He inexplicably withdrew the lawsuit filed in London, UK, this year, prompting views that he was no longer disputing the accuracy of the report that remains on the Sarawak Report website.
On Wednesday, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim divulged that PAS paid Rewcastle-Brown RM1.4 million in order to terminate the suit Hadi had launched against her, claiming he had documents to prove this.
PAS yesterday claimed it could rebut Anwar, but did so prior to Rewcastle-Brown’s disclosure.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is still investigating PAS over the allegation it took RM90 million.
It called in PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan yesterday over the matter and is expected to haul in other party leaders today.
It also seized several luxury vehicles, a shophouse, and millions held in bank accounts for the investigation.