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Najib Is Trying To Get A UK Lawyer To Represent Him Because No Lawyer In M'sia Is As Good

Datuk Seri Najib Razak would go to jail if he fails to appeal his conviction in the SRC International corruption case that is slated to end on 26 August.

Cover image via New Straits Times & SWNS via Racing Post

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Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his counsel have engaged Jonathan Laidlaw, one of UK's most prominent criminal lawyers, to represent him in his appeal in the SRC International corruption case

According to Free Malaysia Today, Laidlaw is seeking the High Court's permission to argue the SRC International case on an ad hoc basis.

In his petition, Laidlaw said the SRC International case involved "serious, complex, and novel issues related to several branches of criminal and civil laws. For the purpose of the appeal, the applicant (Laidlaw) possesses special qualifications, experience, and expertise which is not available among the lawyers here".

Najib will appear in the Federal Court on 15 August to appeal his conviction in the SRC International case, in which he was sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined RM210 million.

Should he fail to appeal his case in the highest court in Malaysia, which ends on 26 August, he would go to jail — unless he receives a royal pardon.

Queen's Counsel Jonathan Laidlaw.

Image via Dominic Lipinski/PA via The Guardian

Speaking about Laidlaw's bid to represent Najib, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said he has the qualifications and experience in a whole range of corruption cases both in the UK and in overseas jurisdictions

He is a Queen's Counsel, a recognition conferred by the Crown for their excellence in advocacy in their capacity as a barrister or solicitor.

Shafee said Laidlaw is listed by Sunday Times as one of Britain's 500 most influential individuals, and that he has appeared for many corporate clients, including Texaco, Gulf, Ford, Esso, and BHP Billiton.

Najib's lead cousel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

Image via New Straits Times

It is learnt that it is not the first time in Malaysia's history that someone has sought a Queen's Counsel to appear in their case

Malay Mail reported that in 2006, a local company attempted to engage the services of Cherie Blair, a Queen's Counsel, but the application was dismissed by the Federal Court.

In a unanimous decision, the court stated that Blair had not demonstrated she had special qualifications and experience of a nature not available amongst advocates and solicitors in Malaysia.

A group of Queen's Counsel.

Image via The Gazette UK

Additionally, a section under the Legal Profession Act (LPA) stipulates that the High Court may allow a Malaysian lawyer to request a non-Malaysian and permanent resident expert to act for the case if they possess special qualifications or experience not available among lawyers in Malaysia, reported Malay Mail.

With that said, the court — under the law — must have regard for the views of "the Attorney-General, the Secretary of the Bar Council, and of the State Bar Committee in the state where such cause or matter is to be heard and the other party to the cause or matter" before making the decision.

In other words, Laidlaw can only represent Najib if the Attorney-General, the Secretary of the Bar Council, and the State Bar Committee agree that Laidlaw's credentials are unparalleled and unavailable among local lawyers, and if the court grants the application in its final decision.

This could be a reason why Shafee stressed that "no advocate and solicitor practising in Malaysia can be said to possess an equal degree of accomplishment, experience, and expertise" as Laidlaw in his recent statement.

In July 2020, High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali ruled that Najib is guilty of all seven corruption charges and he was sentenced to 12 years' jail:

Last December, the Court Of Appeal upheld Najib's conviction: