Bar Council and BHRC statement on conviction of Richard Naidu in the High Court of Fiji

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The Bar Council of England and Wales and the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) join the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) and Bar leaders around the world in expressing concern over the conviction of Richard Naidu by the High Court of Fiji for “scandalising” the court.

Mr Naidu made a comment on social media about a spelling mistake in a court judgement. The High Court of Fiji convicted Mr Naidu on 22 November, and he is due to be sentenced in January.

The Bar Council and BHRC also note with concern the report of the observer acting for the Law Council of Australia and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute who found that Mr Naidu was denied procedural fairness and was not afforded a fair trial. This included being unable to test the evidence against him.

The Bar Council and BHRC agree with the CLA that the right to freedom of expression must be respected, and contempt proceedings should only be used in exceptional cases where there is a real risk of undermining public confidence in the administration of justice.

The Bar Council and BHRC welcome the Law Council of Australia’s monitoring of the case and join with the CLA in urging the Attorney General of Fiji to withdraw the charge and move to quash the conviction.