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High Court closes Pahang MB’s case against Utusan Melayu

The High Court has closed a defamation suit brought by Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob against Utusan Melayu(M) Bhd over an article entitled ‘Hebat Sangatkah Adnan’, two years ago.

Justice Yeoh Wee Siam closed the case after being informed by Utusan Melayu’s counsel Elly Azreen Khalid that the Court of Appeal had struck out the suit yesterday.

The High Court closed the case as it is bound by the ruling of the Court of Appeal, the lawyer told reporters. The case was earlier brought for case management before Yeoh in chambers.

In a landmark decision, the Court of Appeal yesterday allowed Utusan Melayu to strike out Adnan’s suit, ruling that public figures who hold public office could not sue the media for defamation.

In a brief decision, a three-person bench chaired by Rohana Yusuf said it was the court’s view that the article, in its context and as a whole, had referred to Adnan as ‘menteri besar’ and not as an individual private person.

She said Adnan’s defamation suit against the Malay newspaper should be struck out based on an English case law principle, Derbyshire County Council vs Times Newspapers Ltd and others which stated that local authorities could not institute libel action.

In 2014, Adnan sued Utusan Melayu over publication of the article in Mingguan Malaysia under the headline, ‘Hebat Sangatkah Adnan’ on Nov 9, 2014.

Utusan Melayu initially lost its bid to strike out the civil suit at the High Court on July 23, 2015 and appealed against the decision.

- Bernama