Lawyer Shafee to testify in defamation suit against Bar, 3 others, says counsel

Lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is expected to take the stand tomorrow when the High Court hears his defamation suit against the Malaysian Bar and three others for attempting to discuss his conduct at the Bar’s annual general meeting (AGM) last year.


His lawyer, Datuk Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, said Shafee would be the first witness.

“We expect to call two other witnesses for the plaintiff (Shafee) before closing the case,” Kamarul told The Malaysian Insider.

He said the trial had been scheduled to begin on Monday but was adjourned because both parties wanted to amend their pleadings before the case commenced.“The application to amend the pleadings is being heard in chambers,” he said, adding that the trial proper would be heard in open court.

Tomorrow, Shafee will tender his witness statement and will be cross-examined by lawyers for the defendants.

Shafee named the Malaysian Bar, former Bar president Christopher Leong, Tommy Thomas and Tan Sri V.C. George as defendants in the defamation suit.

Thomas and George, two senior members of the Malaysian Bar, had urged the Bar Council to take action against Shafee over his conduct following Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy conviction by the Federal Court.

The two said from the time the Federal Court convicted Anwar on February 10 last year, Shafee, who was the deputy public prosecutor in the case, had behaved in a repugnant and obnoxious manner which brought the legal profession into disrepute.

In their motion submitted at the AGM, the two senior lawyers also urged the incoming council for the 2015-2016 term to lodge a report against Shafee with the Advocates and Solicitors Disciplinary Board.

They said steps had to be taken to further prevent Shafee from bringing the legal profession into disrepute.

Shafee was accused of wilfully and with impunity:

* holding press conferences condemning Anwar who could not respond as a convicted prisoner serving time;

* drawing attention to his prowess, allegedly as a top-rate prosecutor;

* demeaning Anwar and his legal team, and the way the defence was conducted;

* giving interviews to the media on his performance as prosecutor; and,

* organising and participating in nationwide roadshows with a political party, with the purpose of insulting a convicted prisoner and for bringing attention to his role in the conviction.

Shafee was said to have violated the Legal Profession (Publicity) Rules 2001 which prohibit lawyers from publicising themselves or their practice in any manner.

They also said while Shafee was backed by forces of the state, he was not above the law.

In the proceedings tomorrow, lawyers Lambert Rasaratnam and Andrew Chiew will appear for the Bar and Leong, while Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan will appear for Thomas and Datuk Porres Royan for George, who is a former Court of Appeal judge.

Ambiga said Leong, Thomas and George would be the main witnesses to testify for the defendants.

The trial before Datuk Hanipah Farikullah is scheduled to go on until January 29. – January 19, 2016.


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