Crime & Courts

Najib fails to enlist services of UK-based counsel [Updated]

PUTRAJAYA: Datuk Seri Najib Razak failed to enlist the services of UK-based King Counsel's Jonathan Laidlaw to represent him in his criminal case involving SRC International Bhd funds.

This is after the Federal Court dismissed Laidlaw's appeal to be admitted as Najib's advocate and solicitor in this country today.

The three-panel Apex Court, chaired by Datuk Zabariah Mohd Yusof, unanimously dismissed the application, stating that the case involving the former prime minister had been disposed.

"Thus, we struck out the notice of appeal (by Laidlaw). There is no necessity for us to consider the case," she said briefly.

The other two judges on the bench were Datuk Nordin Hassan and Datuk Abu Bakar Jais.

The court also dismissed the application by Najib's counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, to recuse Nordin and Abu Bakar from hearing the appeal as the duo were previously involved in similar matters relating to SRC International case.

Zabariah ruled that Shafee's application lacked merit.

Laidlaw had filed an appeal to the Federal Court after the High Court rejected his application to be admitted as an advocate and solicitor on July 21 last year.

The Attorney-General's (AG) Chambers, Malaysian Bar, Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee (KLBC) and the prosecution, who are named as respondents in Laidlaw's appeal, also submitted their respective applications to dismiss Laidlaw's appeal.

Earlier, lawyer Datuk Bastian Pius Vendargon, who appeared for the Malaysian Bar, argued that Laidlaw's appeal has been rendered academic as the subject matter is no longer in existence or alive.

"Thus, we submit, that this attempt to treat a review of a final decision as being within the Federal Court appeal procedure amounts to an abuse of process," he said.

Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan contended that the foreign appellant would lack knowledge and cannot effectively assist the Federal Court.

He said Laidlaw was not present during the trial at the High Court and appeals at the Court of Appeal.

"The said criminal appeals do not involve novel or complex issues and in any event, those issues have been deliberated by the learned trial judge and affirmed by the Court of Appeal.

"His (Laidlaw) qualifications and experiences have nothing to do with the said criminal appeal," he said.

Counsel Gurdial Singh Nijar who represented KLBC, along with Datuk V. Sithambaram who appeared for the prosecution team in the SRC International case, echoed the above statements.

Shafee, in his submission, argued that the High Court has erred in law by failing to consider that the appellant indeed has the special qualifications or experience to conduct the SRC International main appeals and all related matters.

Najib, 69, is serving a 12-year jail sentence after the Federal Court upheld his conviction, jail sentence and RM210 million fine for misappropriation of RM42 million SRC International funds on Aug 23, last year.

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