Alex Au case: AGC gets apex court's nod

Alex Au case: AGC gets apex court's nod
Mr Au (above) allegedly insinuated that the Chief Justice had a personal interest in the issue.

A bid by the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) to prosecute blogger Alex Au for contempt of court was allowed by the Court of Appeal yesterday.

Its decision paves the way for a hearing in the High Court on whether two articles published last year in Mr Au's blog, Yawning Bread, were in contempt.

The Court of Appeal reversed a judgment made in the High Court in November last year that allowed the AGC to proceed on only one article. In the article, posted on Oct 5, Mr Au allegedly accused the Supreme Court of manipulating hearing dates to let Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon hear an appeal on the constitutionality of Section 377A, which criminalises sex between men.

Mr Au allegedly insinuated that the Chief Justice had a personal interest in the issue.

However, Justice Belinda Ang rejected the AGC's application for a second post, dated Oct 12, in which Mr Au allegedly accused the judiciary of being incapable of making independent judgments. The AGC appealed against her decision but missed the seven-day deadline to file the appeal because an error in a document caused the electronic filing to be rejected by the system.

In May this year, the AGC was granted more time to appeal. At the appeal yesterday, Senior State Counsel Tai Wei Shyong argued that the second article - which mentions a lawsuit brought by a gay man against his former employer for alleged sexual discrimination - was contemptuous read on its own as well as together with the first article. Mr Tai said the two articles, read collectively, convey the message that the judiciary, in particular the Chief Justice, had a vested interest in cases dealing with the issue of homosexuality.

The three-judge court overturned Justice Ang's decision and granted permission for the AGC to proceed on the second article. Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin, delivering the decision, said the AGC had shown that there was a prima facie case against Mr Au.

No date has yet been set for the hearing. A pre-trial conference has been fixed for next Wednesday.

Mr Au, who was in court yesterday, said he and his lawyer, Mr Peter Low, would be "contesting the case vigorously".

selinal@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 31, 2014.
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