Justice Quentin Loh sentenced British author Alan Shadrake to six weeks jail and a fine of $20,000 this morning for scandalizing the judiciary.
Calling the allegations in Shadrake’s book Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore’s Justice In The Dock “without precedent”, Justice Loh said that under such situations, the default punishment should be imprisonment.
Justice Loh said that the court had given Shadrake the possibility of making amends if he makes a sincere apology and also make efforts to withdraw either the publications or parts of the publications. However, the efforts had been in the ‘opposite direction’.
Shadrake’s lawyer M Ravi had said previously that Shadrake “would certainly apologize if he had offended the sensitivities of the judiciary.”
Justice Loh pointed out that the law was not concerned with the sensitivities of the judge” but whether there was risk in public confidence of the independence of the courts being undermined.
In deciding the sentence, Justice Loh referred to an article published in The Guardian on 7th November (click here for article) in which Shadrake was quoted as saying among other things, “This story is never going away. I’ll keep it on the boil for as long as I live. They’re going to regret they ever started this.”
He also pointed out that Shadrake had stated his intent to publish a second edition of ‘Once A Jolly Hangman’ with new chapters.
“A clearer intent to repent his contempt it can’t be,” said the judge.
Shadrake’s apology was therefore “nothing more that a tactical ploy in court to obtain a reduced sentence while mounting a different stance elsewhere.”
Shadrake was given a week to consider if he wants to appeal the sentencing.
Speaking to reporters later, M Ravi revealed that Shadrake’s MP in England will be filing a motion in the House of Commons to condemn the outcome of the judgement on Alan Shadrake. The MP will ask the British Government to consider raising the issue at the International Court of Justice as a possible breach of customary international law.