Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po and his wife Frieda Hui Po-ming have been ordered to pay compensation for making defamatory comments about their children’s schoolmates. They must also bear 60 percent of the other side’s legal costs.

The pair will need to pay more than HK$6 million, as both sides spent more than HK$4 million in legal costs, according to Apple Daily.

Secretary for Development Paul Chan.
Secretary for Development Paul Chan. File Photo: GovHK

In September last year, they were ordered by the High Court to pay $230,000 to a pair of twins and their father Carl Lu – a governor of Chinese International School – after sending six emails to the board of governors, the headmaster and parents saying the children had cheated in 2011.

The couple asked the High Court to reduce the compensation claiming that two of the emails were sent under “qualified privilege”, which permits people in positions of authority or trust to make statements that would be considered libellous if made by anyone else.

Secretary of Development Paul Chan Mo-po
File Photo: Secretary of Development Paul Chan Mo-po. Photo: GovHK.

Judge Anthony To Kwai-fung agreed they enjoyed the privilege, as they shared common interests with the recipients of the emails, in protecting the school’s academic integrity, reputation and position towards cheating.

However, To refused to reduce the amount of compensation, saying that the damage they had done was the same even if they have not sent the two privileged emails.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.