PUTRAJAYA, July 27 — The Court of Appeal here today dismissed an appeal by lawyer Datuk VK Lingam to set aside the Advocates and Solicitors disciplinary board’s decision to bar him from practising law for alleged misconduct relating to a video clip over judicial appointments.
A three-man panel led by Justice Datuk Lee Swee Seng said the court found no merits in Lingam’s argument that there was a breach of natural justice as he claimed he was not heard in person before the disciplinary board handed down the punishment on him.
He said the maker of the video clip, Loh Gwo Burne’s evidence that what he did and heard in Lingam’s house is real evidence and the evidential burden is shifted to Lingam to deny that he ever said those words which were heard by Loh and his father as reflected in the video clip.
Justice Lee said Loh, who testified before the disciplinary committee, had confirmed that he and his father was at Lingam’s house on the night of Dec 20 2001 and he did the recording of the event consisting of actions and conversations of Lingam.
He said Lingam did not deny the event of meeting in his house with Loh and his father.
Justice Lee said: “All that the appellant (Lingam) is saying is that the video clip is not authentic. The appellant did not say categorically that he never ever had such a conversation on his handphone but only that he could not recall having such conversations when the Lohs were there in his house on the night in question”.
He said it was for Lingam to say in his evidence that he was just boasting and that he could not have peddled any influence in what was just a mere play-acting.
Justice Lee said the disciplinary committee had correctly admitted and evaluated the evidence given by the Lohs and the evidence of the recording in the video clip and as well as the testimonies of experts called by both sides and found there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that misconduct had been proved with respect to Lingam interfering and influencing judicial appointments.
He said the court saw no good reason to interfere with the findings of facts of the disciplinary committee and disciplinary board.
The panel which also comprised Justices Datuk Lee Heng Cheong and Datuk Hashim Hamzah ordered Lingam to pay costs of RM30,000 to the Bar Council.
The court proceedings was conducted online.
Lingam was appealing against the High Court’s dismissal in May 2018, which upheld the decision of the disciplinary board that he be struck off the Rolls of Advocates and Solicitors of the High Court of Malaya.
In his originating motion, Lingam wanted the court to set aside the disciplinary board’s decision that affirmed the finding of liability made by the disciplinary committee which determined that he had conspired with various parties to interfere with or influence judicial appointments.
He had also sought a court order to set aside the findings of the disciplinary committee and overturn its recommendations that he be suspended from practice as an advocate and solicitor for a year and to fine him RM20,000.
Lawyer R. Thayalan represented Lingam while a team of lawyers led by Razlan Hadri Zulkifli represented the Bar Council. — Bernama