13 Oct 2020

Fiji court throws out defamation case against Opposition MP

3:36 pm on 13 October 2020

Fiji's high court has rejected a defamation case against an opposition MP and lawyer brought by the State broadcaster.

The FBC, Fiji's government-owned broadcaster.

The FBC, Fiji's government-owned broadcaster. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

The Social Democratic Liberal Party's Niko Nawaikula was sued for defamation by the Fijian Broadcasting Corporation (FBC).

FBC Chief Executive Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum claimed Nawaikula had made defamatory comments on social media.

The Fiji Times reported the SODELPA MP had posted that Sayed-Khaiyum was responsible for a strike at Air Terminal Services during his time as board chairman.

Nawaikula also questioned why loans taken by the FBC were not investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Nawaikula denied the posts were written to cause reputational damage to the FBC and its CEO.

The high court ruled Nawaikula's statements were not defamatory and declined FBC's claims for damages and loss of business revenue and profits.

The court also rejected a request for a permanent injunction restricting Nawaikula from further posting, circulating, or distributing statements regarding the FBC and its CEO.

The court ordered both the FBC and Sayed-Khaiyum to pay Nawaikula $US942 in costs.

In August, Nawaikula appeared before the Independent Legal Services Commission facing allegations of misconduct.

He was accused of failing to seek the approval of members of a mataqali or clan when facilitating a formation of trust deed.

The Fiji Sun reported Nawaikula was also alleged to have distributed the clan's trust funds received from the iTaukei Land Trust Board.

The matter has been adjourned to next month.

Niko Nawaikula.

Niko Nawaikula. Photo: Supplied