Pro-Beijing lawyer and lawmaker Junius Ho will not be prosecuted for taking a “selfie” inside the courthouse and then posting it on social media, police confirmed on Tuesday.

Ho, a practicing solicitor and former chair of the Law Society, was embroiled in a controversy last April after posting a photo of himself in front of Court No.28 of the High Court.

Junius Ho posted a “selfie” inside the courthouse on April 28, 2016. Photo: Junius Ho, via Facebook.

It is an offence to take photographs inside any courthouse under the Summary Offences Ordinance. Offenders are liable to a fine of HK$250.

Police launched an investigation after receiving a report from a court staff member over Ho’s conduct.

On Tuesday, a police spokesperson said the case has been dropped following investigations and after seeking legal advice from the Department of Justice. It did not elaborate on the reasons for dropping the case.

‘Unhealthy intention’

Ho told Ming Pao on Tuesday that he was glad the case was closed. “I don’t think there is any issue [with his conduct]. It is a matter of course that the case was dropped.”

Junius Ho Kwan-yiu. File Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

Describing the person who reported the incident to the police as “having nothing better to do,” Ho said: “Her purpose was to harm and annoy me – the intention was unhealthy.”

He added that he took the photo because he wanted to express his feelings.

Lawyer Kevin Yam of the Progressive Lawyers Group criticised Ho for lacking remorse and making an unfounded accusation against the complainant.

He told HKFP that Ho’s response was a case of him “being ungracious, unrepentant, uncouth and displays a smallness of mind and attitude that is entirely unbecoming of someone of his status.”

Last year, Yam said in response to the controversy that people are only allowed to take photos in the court building on special occasions such as admission ceremonies for newly qualified lawyers that take place on Saturdays.

Photo: GovHK.

Ho did not state when he took the picture. In his original post dated April 28, 2016 – a Thursday – he wrote: “Inside Court No.28… Hang in there, Uncle Pui!”

He was referring to his firm’s client David Li Yam-pui, who was applying for bail two days before the photo was posted, over a jail term for conspiracy to defraud the Lands Department over the construction of small houses.

After the post drew public attention, Ho said he had no bad intention and was not acting in contempt of court.

“Anyone with a sane mind could see that the photo I posted was not inappropriate at all,” he said.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.