Blogger made 'first move to settle matters'

Blogger made 'first move to settle matters'

The Council for Private Education (CPE) has quashed online talk that it initiated a settlement last week with blogger Han Hui Hui about her online allegations against one of its officers.

CPE said on Sunday that it was Ms Han who first approached it through her lawyer to settle the matter. This led to a counter-offer from CPE which she accepted.

Ms Han, 21, launched a High Court challenge in April, questioning whether the CPE could sue her for defamation. "The CPE did not at any time sue for defamation," said a spokesman.

The events began on April 5 when Ms Han called up CPE to question some alleged comments made by an officer. CPE wrote to Ms Han clarifying that the officer in question had not made any such comments.

Ms Han subsequently sent two e-mails, copied to various media, alleging that the officer had lied to a reporter. These allegations were posted on her blog and Facebook page. CPE then sent her a letter, through its lawyers Allen & Gledhill, on April 15 to demand that she retract her allegations.

It added that the letter was "not in response to her blog posts on private education institutions or her comments pertaining to private education, as some media reports have inferred".

Thereafter, Ms Han launched her High Court challenge. She also removed her online allegations on April 24.

On July 3, her lawyer M. Ravi sent a letter to CPE's lawyers offering to settle the matter, the spokesman said. CPE rejected it but made a counter-offer on July 5 "in the spirit of compromise". The court hearing fixed for July 8 was then adjourned.

Ms Han accepted CPE's counter-offer without any conditions this month, said the CPE. Ms Han then dropped her suit in court the following day and also did not seek costs against the CPE.

"As her allegations against the CPE had been removed, the CPE decided not to commence any defamation proceedings," said the spokesman. She added Ms Han did not have to pay any legal costs to CPE.

But Mr Ravi said on Sunday: "The offer that CPE would not commence defamation proceedings in exchange for my client dropping her constitutional challenge emanated from CPE. There is no such counter-offer. This particular offer came from CPE and not my client."

He added: "Prior to the offer made by CPE, there were negotiations which culminated in this offer, which my client accepted."

vijayan@sph.com.sg


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