The High Court on Monday made further rulings on the injunction in force to prevent more leaks of the discussions at a crucial University of Hong Kong (HKU) Council meeting. The court allowed the injunction to continue until the trial, and rejected the applications by Apple Daily and Undergrad editor-in-chief Marcus Lau Yee-ching to join the court proceedings as interested parties. Only the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) will be allowed to take part.
Justice Godfrey Lam Wan-ho said that the judiciary will make arrangements for the trial to take place as soon as possible.
The hearing followed a previous court ruling in October, when HKU obtained an interim injunction, forcing Commercial Radio to remove recordings of speeches by two Council members, Arthur Li and Leoni Ki, during a controversial session on September 29, in which the governing body rejected the appointment of former HKU law dean Johannes Chan Man-mun as pro-vice-chancellor of the university.
In his verdict, the judge said that the injunction was not targeted at Apple Daily or Undergrad, and there was no evidence to show that the anonymous whistleblower had disclosed relevant information to the two. This meant that they were in the same position as the rest of the media.
However, as the trial will involve discussions of press freedom, a topic with which the Hong Kong Journalists Association was familiar, they were permitted to join the proceedings. They will be able to access documents in the case and make statements in court, Apple Daily reported.
In granting a continuation of the injunction the judge argued that, in the event that HKU won the case when it came to trial, their interests would be harmed if the injunction was to be cancelled now. On the other hand, if it was decided that the media could publish the leaks following the trial, prolonging the injunction now would only delay the act of publication and not prevent it.
Prior to the hearing on November 6 which was to deal with the injunction, Commercial Radio and HKU reached a consensus in the High Court, with Commercial Radio agreeing not to republish the two leaked recordings of the Council meeting. At the hearing, the scope of the injunction was narrowed to cover only the content of meetings from June 30 onwards.
Despite the injunction, new recordings from the September 29 meeting featuring speeches by Arthur Li and Lo Chung-mau were released last week on the popular Taiwanese forum PTT.