Green light to challenge “Lingam tape” report


(The Edge) PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has allowed Lawyer Datuk VK Lingam and two former Chief Justices to challenge the findings of a royal commission of inquiry which implicated them in alleged fixing of judicial elevations following a public hearing on a secretly-recorded video clip.

Court of Appeal Judge Tengku Datuk Baharudin Shah Tengku Mahmud said on Tuesday, Aug 24 the decision to allow the appeal was a 2-1 majority decision with him and Judge Datuk Zaharah Ibrahim granting the request while Judge Datuk Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus dissented.

Lingam and former Chief Justices Tun Mohamed Eusoff Chin and Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim are appealing a Kuala Lumpur High Court decision in December 2008 which refused them leave to pursue a judicial review of the royal commission’s findings.

The royal commission had sat for a month from Jan 14, 2008 to hold a public inquiry into a video clip, now dubbed the “Lingam tape” showing a telephone conversation purportedly about the fixing of judicial elevations.

Commenting on the early victory, Lingam said he and the two former top judges were “pleased with the outcome” and would proceed with addressing the substantive submissions in their bid to quash part or whole of the royal commission’s report.

When asked, Senior Federal Counsel Datin Azizah Nawawi, who is representing the royal commission, said she would seek instruction from Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail on whether to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision.

If it comes to be, Lingam, Eusoff and Ahmad Fairuz’s bid to review the royal commission’s findings could once again re-open the controversial issue some two years after the royal commission held a keenly-followed public inquiry into the secretly-filmed video clip.

The royal commission’s report, which was made public in May 2008, held that the video clip was “authentic beyond a shadow of a doubt”.

The panel also found, among other things, that the person shown in the grainy video clip was indeed Lingam and that the latter was engaged in a telephone conversation with Ahmad Fairuz, who retired from office as Chief Justice in late 2007 after his contract was not renewed.

The royal commission had also found “sufficient evidence of misbehaviour” on the part of certain individuals identified or mentioned in the video.

It had also recommended, among other things, that Lingam be investigated under the Sedition Act, Legal Profession Act, Official Secrets Act and Penal Code.