The Federal Court has ordered Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob’s defamation suit against Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd to go to trial at the High Court.
A five-man panel chaired by Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin restored an earlier decision by the High Court and also set aside the Court of Appeal’s decision.
Justice Zulkefli made the order after granting an appeal filed by Adnan against the Court of Appeal’s decision, The Star Online reported.
He said the decision was unanimous and fixed Feb 22 for case management at the High Court.
Adnan filed the defamation suit in December 2014.
Utusan Melayu on Nov 9, 2014 published an article in Mingguan Malaysia under the headline “Hebat Sangatkah Adnan?”
Adnan said his reputation as a national leader and politician had been adversely affected by the article.
In his statement of claim, he said the article also implied that he was a liability to the political party he represented.
On July 23, 2015, High Court judge Yeoh Wee Siam dismissed Utusan Melayu’s application to strike out Adnan’s lawsuit and ordered the publisher to pay him RM3,000 in costs.
The publisher filed an appeal, and on March 1, 2016, Court of Appeal judge Rohana Yusof allowed Utusan Melayu’s bid to strike out Adnan’s suit.
Justice Rohana found that the said libellous article, when read as a whole, referred to Adnan by his post as the Menteri Besar.
Politicians cannot sue the media for defamation in their capacity as public figures, the Court of Appeal had ruled.