FMT: Statements against company director not defamatory, says migrant activist
Migrant activist Andy Hall says his email to some 40 recipients was neither offensive nor published with malice.
PETALING JAYA: Migrant rights activist Andy Hall has dismissed two defamation suits filed by the director of a foreign workers’ recruitment firm alleging that his reputation has been damaged in the public eye.
Hall said the statements in an email and another published by Focus Malaysia and FMT – the subject matter of the second suit – did not contain the elements of defamation. He said R Muthusamy, of Embun Karisma Resources, “is put to strict proof to back his claims”.
In the first suit, Muthusamy alleged that Hall sent an email on Jan 6 to not less than 40 recipients, including companies, government departments and NGOs, accusing him of “bribing” Hall with a consultancy offer at ATA, a leading electronics manufacturing service company.
He said that in the email, Hall claimed that Muthusamy had asked around “how much it would cost to pay off or silence Andy Hall”.
He said he sent a letter of demand to Hall on Feb 14, but Hall allegedly made a defamatory statement titled “Recruitment firm demands apology, seeks damages from migrant activist” published by FMT on April 15, and another titled “See you in court: Hall dares libel claimant in Dyson forced labour controversy”, published in Focus Malaysia on Feb 17.
In his statement of defence, Hall said the email was “a reply to Emily Fernandez” copied to government departments, NGOs and other authorities “as a matter of courtesy as they were in the email thread”.
“The major portion of the contents in the email were a reproduction of Muthusamy’s letter,” he said in his defence filed through legal firm Messars Rama Rozi & Associates last week.
He claimed the alleged defamatory statements were not sensational, scandalous or offensive, or published with malice.
“The statement (in the email), read contextually or in isolation or in its ordinary meaning or by innuendo, did not defame the plaintiff as claimed,” he said
Hall said the email had not much negative impact as Muthusamy was not an eminent person and the recipients had the right to be informed on the woes of migrant workers.
In any event, he said, Muthusamy’s reputation was not damaged among his friends and working colleagues as the email was not published for the public at large.
Alternatively, Hall said he was relying on the defence of justification and fair comment to defeat both suits.
He said the suits were an abuse of the court process, while the relief sought was excessive.
Muthusamy is seeking a total of RM60 million in damages in the suits filed by the legal firm of GK Sritharan & Co at the High Court in Johor Bahru on April 12.
He is seeking aggravated and exemplary damages and other relief deemed fit by the court.
He also wants an injunction to stop Hall or his agents from repeating and publishing the alleged defamatory statements.
Muthusamy also wants Hall to tender an apology and write to the 40 email recipients to “express regret for sending the malicious and untrue case”, should the court rule in his favour.
If he wins, he also wants Hall to publish in newspapers and other social media platforms that he was found liable for making false and malicious statements against him.
He described the alleged defamatory statements in the email and the reports by FMT and Focus Malaysia as false and without merit.
He said the words used put him in a bad light, and depicted him as “engaging in, inter alia, illegal and criminal activities”, and damaged his reputation locally and overseas.
Meanwhile, the High Court in Johor Bahru has fixed case managment for the first suit on May 12, and the second on May 18.
Reuters Feb 2022: Legal action involves our supplier, ATA, not us, says Dyson as former alleged modern slavery victims prepare to take company to UK court https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/02/12/legal-action-involves-our-supplier-ata-not-us-says-dyson/
Reuters Feb 2022: Dyson faces UK forced labour compensation claims from former workers at Malaysian supplier ATA https://www.reuters.com/business/dyson-faces-claims-former-workers-malaysian-supplier-2022-02-11/
Exclusive Channel 4 News Video Report 18m 52s Feb 2022: Dyson faces UK legal action over ‘forced labour’ and exploitation at Malaysian ATA supplierhttps://youtu.be/vJaHQNrh0tM
FMT Apr 2022: Recruitment firm director files RM60mil defamation suits against migrant activist https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/04/15/recruitment-firm-director-files-rm60mil-defamation-suits-against-migrant-activist/
FMT Feb 2022: See you in court, migrant activist tells recruitment firm boss suing him https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/02/16/see-you-in-court-migrant-activist-tells-recruitment-firm-boss-suing-him/
Star Feb 2022: No police report made but we will look into it, says Malaysia’s Johor top cop on assault on Nepali ATA factory worker reported by international news in Dyson case https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2022/02/11/no-report-made-but-we-will-look-into-it-says-johor-top-cop-on-assault-on-factory-worker
Migrant Worker Rights Specialist
+977 (0) 9823486634 (Phone/WhatsApp)