Zuma vs Adv Downer and Maughan court case to hear counter arguments

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A full bench in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg is today expected to hear counter arguments in the former president Jacob Zuma’s private prosecution against Advocate Billy Downer and journalist Karyn Maughan.

Zuma is accusing Downer of leaking his confidential medical records to Maughan. The records were filed in Zuma’s arms deal trial. On Monday, the court heard that it was in fact Advocate Andrew Breitenbach from the Cape Bar and not Downer who sent the documents to Maughan.

Downer and Maughan both contend that the documents were part of the public court record before they were published in the media.

This is what Advocate Steven Budlender for Maughan said in court earlier this week.

“We do not say that a journalist is entitled to break the law willy nilly, of course not, but what we do say is that where a member of a public, the former president at the moment, but where a member of public seeks to use a private prosecution to silence a journalist to exercise her section 16 right that is an extra ordinary matter and one that is raised in a balance and inclines the court that it is an abusive process. There is with respect a difference because Ms Maughan is trying to exercise her section 16 right to freedom of expression not for her own sake.”