Manuel is 'hit below belt'

Arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne must fight fair when he criticises Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, the Cape high court was told yesterday.

Arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne must fight fair when he criticises Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, the Cape high court was told yesterday.

Manuel is seeking an urgent order to prevent Crawford-Browne from accusing him of criminal conduct in signing loan agreements for the deal, and from saying he should be charged with corruption and obstruction of justice.

Manuel's application stems from material that Crawford-Browne published in his recent book on the arms deal, Eye on the Money, and on his website in December and last month.

The claims were repeated in subsequent newspaper articles.

Manuel's senior counsel, Brian Pincus, said the court would be reluctant to stop a robust political debate on the arms deal, and that there was no objection to Crawford-Browne criticising Manuel and the government.

But to say he should be charged with corruption was highly damaging, and Crawford-Browne had not given any justification for his claim.

"If you want to box, box above the belt. we want Queensberry rules," Pincus said. "He'll just box on unless you stop him."

Manuel said in an affidavit that the allegations "exceeded the bounds of lawfulness. I . believe he will continue, and may increase the intensity and frequency." - Sapa

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