Publishers stands by Jacques Pauw following Arthur Fraser's summons

2019-06-19 17:38
Jacques Pauw. (News24)

Jacques Pauw. (News24)

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NB Publishers has come out in defence of investigative journalist Jacques Pauw following a R35m lawsuit by former State Security Agency (SSA) director general Arthur Fraser over statements made in Pauw's book, The President's Keepers.

"Fraser, who is now head of correctional services, is claiming the book contains defamatory material centred on the Principal Agent Network, or PAN, which was the subject earlier this year of a high-level review panel chaired by Dr Sydney Mufamadi," the publishing company said in a statement on Wednesday.

READ: Arthur Fraser issues summons against Jacques Pauw, NB Publishers for R35m

"The review found widespread abuse of the country's intelligence services for political ends. NB Publishers stands by its author and has retained legal counsel to defend Pauw and the book."

Comment from Pauw will be added once it is received.

On Tuesday evening, Fraser's lawyer, Rapulane Kgoroeadira, confirmed that a summons had been issued against Pauw and NB Publishers with the quantum for damages due to defamation standing at R35m.

He said his instructions were that statements in the book caused Fraser harm and also affected his business.

'Loss of money'

"He has lost a substantial amount of money. It was too early to say what would happen next," Kgoroeadira added. "The summons has been served. We will see whether the matter is defended and take it from there."

In the book, Pauw wrote that Fraser "concocted" the PAN in his capacity at the National Intelligence Agency (which later formed part of the SSA).

The PAN, suspended in 2011, became a household name with the release of the book, and was later red-flagged in the SSA high-level review panel report.

The 10-member panel found widespread abuse of the country's intelligence services for political ends, including internal ANC factional battles.

According to the SSA report and Pauw's book, there was nothing necessarily sinister in setting up the PAN as it was initially envisioned, News24 reported previously. However, the allegations put before the SSA high-level review panel about the PAN were "disturbing", according to the report.

'Serious criminal behaviour'

"It appeared to the panel that there had been instances of serious criminal behaviour, which had taken place under the guise of conducting covert work and that this behaviour may have involved theft, forgery and uttering, fraud, corruption and even bordered on transgressions of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act," according to the SSA report.

But Fraser said last month that the panel had essentially lied to President Cyril Ramaphosa in its report and had taken a "myopic" approach.

He set out various reasons why its findings would have given Ramaphosa a tainted view of problems in the intelligence agencies. 

Fraser said the PAN had been around for years, but a decision was taken in 1999 to review it because agents were targeting "former liberation movements".

READ: Ramaphosa still studying SSA report - Presidency

There was also "little control over their revenue generation from the businesses that they were using as front companies", he added.

"It is these same individuals, who previously infiltrated liberation movements, who later migrated into intelligence structures after amalgamation and continued their practices and management of sources stemming from the former apartheid era into the democratic dispensation," Fraser added at the time.

He said the panel investigated some breaches within the PAN but ignored other intelligence ones. These include tobacco smuggling and intelligence operations against the South African Revenue Services' probe of it and the leaking of classified documents to news agency Al Jazeera.

Fraser said the report made contradictory remarks about alleged political interference in the intelligence services. The report says that politically loyal individuals were deployed to the intelligence agencies by politicians, and that the executive ignored warnings about the influence of "a certain family" over the president - presumably, a reference to the Guptas.

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