10 Dec 2005

Fiji Opposition leader's son tries to gag media

8:18 am on 10 December 2005

The Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry's son and lawyer, Rajendra, tried to get a court order to stop the media from publishing a statement made by the prime minister yesterday.

Laisenia Qarase's statement revealed what he described as his evidence that Mahendra Chaudhry and the Labour senator Anand Singh had attempted to obtain a fee from the US$52 million Indian government loan to restructure the sugar industry.

Radio Fiji quotes Laisenia Qarase as saying that Mr Chaudhry as general secretary of the National Farmers Union expressed interest in acquiring the government's shares in the Fiji Sugar Corporation.

Mr Qarase says Mr Chaudhry wrote a letter to the chairman of the steering committee looking into the sugar restructure, Charles Walker, offering to be a consultant on the restructure.

Fiji TV reports that Rajendra Chaudhry's motion to gag the media was filed with Justice Anthony Gates in his chambers yesterday afternoon.

But no order was issued and a hearing has been set for next Tuesday.

Rajendra Chaudhry says he is seeking to stop Mr Qarase, Fiji TV and other media from publishing the statement because in his view it does not constitute the facts.

Rajendra Chaudhry, who qualified as a lawyer recently and was admitted to the Fiji bar only a few months ago, has gone into a legal partnership with Senator Anand Singh, the other party in the alleged payments from sugar reform controversy.