US Embassy in Singapore says coroner’s inquiry was ‘fair and transparent’; Mr Shanmugam calls on The Financial Times to do the ‘honorable’ thing by correcting article regarding Mr Todd ; Financial Times stands by their report

Will FT correct Todd article?

by Daniel Yap

Following the State Coroner’s ruling today that found American engineer Shane Todd’s controversial death to be suicide, Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam asked the Financial Times (FT) to do the “honourable” thing and correct a February 15 article.

He seemed to rule out a lawsuit against the paper for now, saying so at a doorstop interview covered by Breakfast Network that he did not “think that’s a path we want to go down”.

The Todd family walked out on the inquiry on May 21, before they could testify, and Mr Shanmugam said that he “would have liked the family to take the stand so we could clarify” some of the differences between the coroner’s findings and their version of events.

Mr Shanmugam called some of the allegations made by FT and the Todd family about the investigation “untruths, pure fantasy and pure imagination”. He highlighted three points in particular.

The first surrounds the acquisition and contents of a hard drive belonging to Mr Todd. FT published that it was a “last-minute find” by Todd’s parents before they left Singapore. The coroner’s report notes this account by the Todd family but also includes a police Acknowledgement Slip dated June 28 for, among other items, “One (1) Harddisk”, which the police say is proof that they had handed the item to the family. The family still denies having received such an item from the police.

The second was about the family’s claim that someone had accessed the hard drive (although Mr Shanmugam mentioned Personal Computer) three days after Shane Todd’s death. FT did not allege that this was a motive for murder, but, in the absence of information from Shane Todd’s computer, was worth noting. The coroner’s report explained that it was the police who had accessed the hard drive as part of the investigation.

The third is about the family’s insistence that Shane Todd was garrotted. The FT article does give the account of Dr Edward Adelstein, who was the family’s expert witness in court. Dr Adelstein had at that time said that he believed that Shane Todd had been garrotted. In court in Singapore, however, the coroner’s report noted that Dr Adelstein withdrew his claim that Shane Todd had been garrotted. The report called Dr Adelstein’s evidence “nothing short of bizarre and extremely unhelpful”.

But what would FT stand to gain from issuing a correction? Not very much it seems, unless they are keen on earning some favour from the Singapore Government. The Todd family walkout means that while the case may be closed as far as Singapore is concerned, those who insist on a different telling of the tale can still uphold their version of events, even if outside of an official hearing.

Without a full investigation and with a gulf of distrust between the two sides, the issue becomes a case of “he said, she said”, with no chance of a meeting of minds. For example, it is one word against another about whether the Singapore Police had first told Todd’s family that he had hung himself with a complex series of pulleys, although he had not – something reported in the FT article.

That the minister would continue to refer to this article so long after its publication is odd – better not give your naysayers an airing, especially so long after the publication of the initial material, and particularly since the police have already dismissed it as “inaccurate” and “mischievous”. Why the need to carry on then? Nobody who still believes the article is going to think FT ‘dishonourable’ if they refuse to correct it.

As watertight as the coroner’s case may appear (corroborated by two US pathologists and supported by the US Embassy in Singapore), FT can continue to allow its allegations to be published without correction.

This is the aspect of a free media that seems to most worry the G – that investigative pieces published in well-regarded publications like FT can be used to relate one side of the story, and that the G may not be able to secure corrections or retractions in every case. It seems that, like the coroner, it is up to readers to make sense of the evidence presented

Source : breakfast network : Will FT correct Todd article? **********************************************************************

The full statement by the US Embassy in Singapore:

“The death of Dr. Shane Todd in June 2012 was a profound loss for his family, friends, and colleagues, and our heartfelt sympathy goes out to them.

“In accordance with Singapore law, a coroner’s inquiry was conducted to determine the cause of Dr. Todd’s death. The findings from that inquiry were released today. Officers from the Embassy attended the entire hearing and were with the Todd family during their time in Singapore.

Ambassador Adelman met with the Todd family in December 2012 and May 2013. The coroner heard testimony from a wide range of witnesses in open court and received evidence in the form of written statements and records.

The Todd family was given the opportunity to participate in the hearing and was represented by experienced Singapore legal counsel.

“The inquiry into Dr. Todd’s death was comprehensive, fair, and transparent.”

us-todd

Link : The full statement by the US Embassy in Singapore

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