Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is suing a pro-democracy lawmaker for defamation over his comments about the HK$50 million payment Leung received from Australian engineering firm UGL.

The Chief Executive Office confirmed to RTHK that Leung has taken legal action. Accountancy sector legislator Kenneth Leung told the broadcaster that his lawyers have received the relevant documents from the court, but will only give further comments on Tuesday.

It is the first time a chief executive has sued a lawmaker for defamation.

kenneth leung
Kenneth Leung. Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

It came after Kenneth Leung’s comments outside the Legislative Council chamber last Wednesday, made in relation a letter written by 26 pro-democracy lawmakers to Beijing leader Yu Zhengsheng. The letter urged Yu to consider the UGL controversy before Leung Chun-ying is appointed as a vice-chairman of the top Beijing advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Kenneth Leung had alleged that the chief executive could be under investigation by the Hong Kong or foreign tax revenue departments

Select committee 

The remarks were made ahead of a LegCo select committee meeting which was set to look into the UGL controversy last Friday.

Leung Chun-ying received a payment of HK$50 million from Australian firm UGL in exchange for not joining rival companies within two years, after it bought DTZ. Leung was a director at DTZ before running for chief executive. Parts of the payment were received during his tenure as Hong Kong’s leader. He did not declare the sums to the Executive Council and argued that it was unnecessary as it was a normal “non-compete and non-poach” agreement.

Leung Chun-ying
Leung Chun-ying. Photo: GovHK.

Last Thursday, Leung Chun-ying sent a legal letter to Kenneth Leung threatening to sue the lawmaker, saying that no local nor foreign tax revenue departments had approached him.

Last month, he issued a second legal letter to Apple Daily in six months over reports in the paper relating to the UGL matter.

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.