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Chief Justice Eusoff Chin today said that he met prominent lawyer V.K Lingam by coincidence while he and his family were holidaying in New Zealand in 1994.

Eusoff added that he was not invited by Lingam to go on the trip and showed air tickets, hotels receipts and bills to prove that his visit was paid by himself.

He said an investigation by the the Anti-Corruption Agency and police have found that he had done nothing wrong.

Photos of Eusoff and Lingam, taken while on holiday together with their families in New Zealand, have been posted in the Internet ([#1] See[/#] ).

Minister in Prime Minister's Department Rais Yatim said in an interview with Australia's Radio National recently that Eusoff had been told that it was inappropriate to holiday with the counsel of a prominent business tycoon. ("[#2] Improper to holiday with lawyer, Chief Justice told[/#] ", May 30)

Lingam represents Berjaya Group's chief Vincent Tan. Both he and Tan were also photographed while on vacation with Attorney-General Mohtar Abdullah and their respective families in Italy in 1994.

According to national news agency Bernama today, Eusoff said he had not been told by anybody that his conduct with Lingam was improper, as mentioned by Rais in the radio interview.

"Our own people, no less a minister, is condemning us overseas. He never talks to us, but only talks to the newspaper," he lamented.

"I met him (Lingam) coincidentally in New Zealand, I felt very happy to meet a Malaysian in a foreign country. Even though I may not know that person, I'd be happy," he added.

He said that at that time he was on his way to a zoo and Lingam had come along.

"A judge is not a robot. He is also a human being. They need friends. After they passed away, they need relatives and friends to bury them. Only the people without friends need the help of the hospital to bury them," said Eusoff.

He added that even when he was visiting London, he had met some senior lawyers, law students and court officials, and they liked to have their photographs taken with him.

"Sometimes people put their face close to you or put their hands over your shoulder when taking photographs, and you just can't push them away," he said.

He stated that allegations about his misconduct were not something new. There was a poison-pen letter a number of years ago and one of the accusations was that his New Zealand trip was paid by somebody, he said.

"The Attorney-General had asked the ACA and the police to probe the poison-pen letter. After the investigation, the AG issued a statement that it has not involved any criminal action."

Eusoff added that he has a habit of collecting the air tickets from his overseas trips for "sentimental value".

He said that he paid the ticket fares to the travel agent using his own cheque, and the hotel expenses were also paid from his credit card.

"ACA has asked the bank and its investigation showed that no one had banked in money into my account," he said.

Eusoff added that the Bar Council, which had also raised the matter, was shown a copy of the documents and the then council president Cyrus Das was satisfied with his explanation.

He pointed out that Lingam had been very successful in winning court cases even before they met.

Eusoff said that some of the lawyers are very concerned of their reputation and they will not accept cases easily but only those which they are confident of winning.