THE Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) yesterday accused a British freelance journalist of launching a baseless broadside against the Singapore judiciary in his book on the death penalty.

It was the opening of a scheduled three-day hearing in the High Court against Alan Shadrake, 75, for having allegedly impugned the impartiality, integrity and independence of Singapore courts in his book, entitled Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice In The Dock.

In the High Court, Deputy Senior State Counsel Hema Subramanian picked out 14 passages from his 219-page book which she argued were contemptuous.

She argued that the statements alleged or insinuated that the Singapore courts bowed to pressure from foreign governments, favoured the rich and privileged and were used as a tool by the ruling party to muzzle political dissent.

She made clear that Shadrake was not being tried for his view on the death penalty; others have expressed similar views without contempt proceedings brought against them, she said.

Shadrake, in his affidavit, claimed that the statements were not directed at the Singapore judiciary and denied that he intended to impugn the integrity of the courts here.

Baseless attack on judiciary