TOC editor fails in bid to obtain documents from PM Lee Hsien Loong in defamation suit

Mr Terry Xu said that he had filed an application to obtain documents from PM Lee Hsien Loong, in a pre-trial process to obtain evidence.
Mr Terry Xu said that he had filed an application to obtain documents from PM Lee Hsien Loong, in a pre-trial process to obtain evidence. PHOTO: ST FILE

The High Court has dismissed a bid by the chief editor of The Online Citizen (TOC) to obtain communications between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his family, as well as minutes of a Cabinet meeting - the latest development in the defamation suit filed by PM Lee against him.

Mr Terry Xu told The Straits Times yesterday that he had filed an application to obtain documents from PM Lee, in a pre-trial process to obtain evidence. His application for discovery was dismissed by High Court judge Audrey Lim after a closed-door hearing in chambers.

He is being sued over an allegedly defamatory online article published on Aug 15 last year that claimed PM Lee had misled his late father, founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, into thinking their family home at 38 Oxley Road had been gazetted by the Government.

The article was also shared on TOC's Facebook page.

Among the documents Mr Xu said he had asked for were:

• The minutes of a Cabinet meeting held on July 21, 2011, which Mr Lee Kuan Yew attended to state his wish for his family home to be demolished;

• Correspondence from Mr Lee Kuan Yew to PM Lee about the removal of PM Lee as executor of his will;

• Correspondence between PM Lee and his siblings, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling, on the house from July 20, 2011 to Oct 31, 2012; and

• Correspondence between PM Lee and his father on the house from July 20, 2011 to Oct 31, 2012.

PM Lee and his younger siblings are involved in a feud over the fate of the house in Oxley Road.

Mr Xu's article, titled "PM Lee's wife, Ho Ching weirdly shares article on cutting ties with family members", had referenced a Facebook post made by Dr Lee, in which she set out a purported sequence of events on the Oxley Road property.

PM Lee's lawyers have said the article contained "sensational allegations", including that PM Lee had misled Mr Lee Kuan Yew and caused him to change his will to bequeath the house to PM Lee. PM Lee's lawyers declined to comment on the hearing on Mr Xu's application.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2020, with the headline 'TOC editor fails in bid to obtain documents from PM'. Print Edition | Subscribe