Lawyer apologises to court for 'baseless' allegations

Mr Dodwell was among three lawyers who launched multiple last- minute appeals in a bid to delay an execution.
Mr Dodwell was among three lawyers who launched multiple last- minute appeals in a bid to delay an execution.

Lawyer Alfred Dodwell issued a written letter of apology to the Supreme Court yesterday for "baseless" allegations he made against the court following the execution of murderer Kho Jabing.

He did so after the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) pointed out to him that certain allegations he had made were in contempt of court and entirely untrue, an AGC spokesman said.

On May 21, the managing director of law firm Dodwell & Co LLC had written on his personal Facebook page: "If we invoke the supreme law of the land, the courts should not wave it away to hurry towards execution.

"It's a pity that we have the DPP (deputy public prosecutor) saying so and the judges saying so."

He also wrote: "Same judge sitting on most of the hearing and a challenge to his own ruling is mounted and expecting a different result is never gonna happen."

A day before, Kho, a Malaysian, was executed for bludgeoning a foreign worker with a tree branch while robbing him in 2008.

Mr Dodwell was among three lawyers who had launched multiple last-minute appeals in a bid to delay Kho's execution.

On the morning of the execution, the apex court had heard arguments from Mr Dodwell and lawyer Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss, who each filed a civil application against Kho's death sentence, which was a criminal matter.

Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin called the lawyers' actions "an abuse of the process of the court".

In his letter to Supreme Court Registrar Vincent Hoong yesterday, Mr Dodwell said he accepted that the allegations made in his Facebook post were "completely baseless and misleading, and in contempt of court".

He added: "I also accept that the allegations did not constitute fair criticism, and have scandalised the court."

He withdrew the allegations and apologised "unreservedly" to Judges of Appeal Chao and Andrew Phang Boon Leong, as well as the other judges of the Supreme Court. The apology was made public on his Facebook page.

Contempt of court is a serious offence that undermines the administration of justice, said the AGC spokesman. "It is an even more serious transgression when it emanates from an officer of the court, a practising lawyer."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2016, with the headline 'Lawyer apologises to court for 'baseless' allegations'. Print Edition | Subscribe