Li Shengwu has 'taken advice' from top UK lawyer David Pannick for contempt of court case

Li Shengwu has 'taken advice' from top UK lawyer David Pannick for contempt of court case

Li Shengwu and David Pannick lawyer
Li Shengwu and lawyer David Pannick. (Photos: Reuters/Tim Mc Laughlin, AFP/Tolga Akmen) 

SINGAPORE: Mr Li Shengwu, the nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said on Wednesday (Sep 25) that British lawyer David Pannick has been advising his legal team for a contempt of court case.

The 34-year-old is being sued by the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) for allegedly saying in a private Facebook post in 2017 that Singapore has a "pliant court system", and that the Singapore Government was "very litigious".

READ: AGC takes action against Li Shengwu for contempt of court over Facebook post

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, the Harvard University assistant professor said that for the past two years, his legal team has been taking advice from Mr Pannick, who he describes as "a leading expert".

Mr Li continues to be represented by his Singapore team of lawyers from Providence Law Asia, led by its managing director, Abraham Vergis.

"I’m grateful for Lord Pannick’s guidance and help, even as he has been in the midst of winning a landmark constitutional case in the UK."

Mr Li added that he had just filed his defence affidavit.

A spokesman for Mr Pannick at Blackstone Chambers confirmed to Reuters that Mr Pannick had been instructed by Li in an advisory capacity, without giving further details.

Mr Pannick was one of the lawyers who earlier this week won a landmark case to overturn the British government's suspension of parliament. His clients include Queen Elizabeth II and Saudi Arabia. 

READ: Court dismisses Li Shengwu's appeal over serving papers in contempt of court case

In a letter to Mr Li nine days after he made the post, Senior State Counsel Francis Ng said the post was an “egregious and baseless attack” on the Singapore legal system. He asked Li to apologise and sign a declaration that he had made false allegations and was in contempt of the judiciary.

Mr Li did not concede and said that his private Facebook post was taken "completely out of context" and that any criticism he made was “in good faith”. If found guilty of contempt of court, Li could face fines or jail.

In August 2017, the AGC filed an application in the High Court to initiate committal proceedings against Mr Li for contempt of court after he refused to take down the Facebook post, although he did amend it to “clarify (his) meaning”.

Last March, the High Court dismissed his application to set aside the court order granting the AGC to serve papers on him. Earlier in April, the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal against the High Court's decision. 

Mr Li has said he does not intend to return to Singapore to face the contempt proceedings. 

The case came amid a wider public feud among the children of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, which pitted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong against his siblings Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling. Mr Lee Hsien Yang is Mr Li's father.

Source: CNA/Reuters/ad(hm)

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