The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) has warned the media and the public against publishing or publicising the contents of affidavits until they are submitted as evidence in court since this could constitute risk prejudicing or interfering with court proceedings.
While the AGC did not specify any case, it is possibly referring to the legal case it initiated against founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s grandson, Li Shengwu. Two publications – the South China Morning Post and Yahoo – have retracted articles that covered remarks Shengwu made in a courtroom affidavit, since the AGC issued the reminder.
The SCMP said that it has withdrawn the article due to “legal reasons” while the link to the Yahoo article now shows a non-existent page.
In a statement released on Monday, the AGC said: “It has come to the attention of the Attorney-General’s Chambers that the contents of affidavits that have yet to be admitted into evidence in court have been circulated and published online.”
The AGC pointed out that the Singapore Supreme Court Practice Directions states that “all concerned are not to publish, report or comment on publicly any affidavit or statutory declaration (that) has not been adduced as evidence or referred to in any hearing in open court or in chambers, or any other court document (that) has not been served on the relevant party or parties in the court proceedings”.
Noting that this rule applies to solicitors, litigants, the media, and members of the public reporting or commenting on cases that are before the courts, the AGC said: “Any person who has done so should remove any such publication, report or comment from circulation, whether online or in print, immediately.
“The AGC takes a serious view of sub judice contempt and will not hesitate to take any appropriate action to protect the administration of justice.”
During the bitter Lee family feud in 2017, the AGC initiated legal action against Shengwu over a private “friends-only” Facebook post in which he criticised the judiciary. Last week, Shengwu revealed that he has filed his defence affidavit and that his legal team was advised by noted British barrister and parliamentarian David Pannick.
He wrote on Facebook: “Friends often ask me if the Singapore government is still prosecuting me after all this time. The answer is yes. I just filed my defence affidavit.”