No Malaysian lawyer can match Laidlaw’s expertise, says Shafee

KUALA LUMPUR: A Queen’s Counsel (QC) from the UK, Jonathan Laidlaw, who is seeking to act for Najib Razak in the former premier’s appeal in the RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd corruption case, has special qualifications and experience of a nature not available among advocates and solicitors in Malaysia, according to Najib’s legal team.

Najib’s lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, in an affidavit to support a bid by Laidlaw to represent Najib in his final appeal at the Federal Court in August, said the UK lawyer, had appeared in 109 reported cases in the divisional court, Court of Appeal and House of Lords (now the Supreme Court).

Laidlaw, Shafee said, had qualifications and experience in a whole range of corruption cases both in the UK and in overseas jurisdictions.

“By way of example only, he represented two members of the House of Lords and a member of the House of Commons who were embroiled in the era-defining ‘cash for honours’ scandal, which involved an alleged link between loans to UK political parties and the granting of life peerages (following representations, none faced charges and therefore cannot be identified).

“He prosecuted the largest ever investigation into corruption in the Metropolitan police service, which led to the conviction of two Flying Squad officers, who then turned Queen’s evidence against a number of former colleagues.

“He prosecuted as a Crown Prosecution Service lawyer for corruption following an undercover sting operation which revealed the individual to have been prepared to compromise prosecutions in favour of career criminals, and has recently advised an individual seeking to bring a private prosecution against members of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs,” said Shafee.

He said Laidlaw had been listed by the Sunday Times as one of Britain’s 500 most influential individuals.

He said Laidlaw also specialised in business and financial crime, and was consistently ranked in UK legal directories as one of their “star silks” who was a recipient of the Chambers and Partners “Crime Silk of the Year” award.

According to Shafee, Laidlaw had appeared for many corporate clients, including Texaco, Gulf, Ford, Esso and BHP Billiton.

“He has appeared for both corporations and its directors in cases involving corporate criminal liabilities.

“In recent years, he successfully defended BHP Billiton in a series of cases brought by the Department of Trade and Industry of England, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Health and Safety Executive arising from incidents at the Liverpool Bay oil and gas field,” said Shafee.

Shafee pointed out that Laidlaw was also involved in the biggest fraud case brought by way of private prosecution in the UK on behalf of the Allseas Group, which resulted in an individual being convicted for fraud involving €100 million.

Thus, Laidlaw’s accomplishments are of an exceptional degree and excel the measure reached by advocates and solicitors of Malaysia, he said.

“I further believe that no advocate and solicitor practising in Malaysia can be said to possess an equal degree of accomplishment, experience and expertise which has been acquired by the applicant,” he said.

He also said the serious, complex or novel issues related to the appeal would arise for consideration by the apex court for the first time, whereby most of the issues had never been substantively determined in Malaysia in any similar cases in which local advocates and solicitors had appeared.

Shafee also asked the court to consider that Laidlaw’s special and particular expertise would be advantageous to not only the appellant, but also the Malaysian criminal justice system.

He said the UK’s common law tradition had the capacity to inform and benefit the Malaysian national jurisprudence.

It would also assist the apex court in assessing the interpretation of Malaysian statutes and laws to be in line with the UK and international standards, he said.

On Jan 25, law firm Messrs Shafee & Co submitted a six-page letter to the secretariat of Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat on Najib’s intention to appoint a QC to assist him in complex issues and legal questions in his SRC appeal at the apex court.

On April 29, the Federal Court fixed 10 days in August to hear Najib’s final bid against his conviction and jail sentence for misappropriation of RM42 million in SRC International funds.

On Dec 8 last year, the Court of Appeal upheld Najib’s conviction and the 12-year jail sentence and the RM210 million fine for misappropriating RM42 million belonging to SRC International.

Judge Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, who presided with Has Zanah Mehat and Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera, unanimously dismissed Najib’s appeal against the High Court’s decision on July 28, 2020.

The Federal Court would be the final avenue for the Pekan MP to appeal against his sentence and conviction in the SRC International case.

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