Columnist Simon Lee is suing lawmaker Regina Ip for libel over her recent claim that he passed on a threat on behalf of the real estate investment trust Link REIT.
Ip had been critical of the firm following its recent HK$23 billion plan to sell-off 17 local shopping centres at public housing estates.
Last Wednesday, she claimed Lee had informed her staff member Derek Yuen that, if she did not stop criticising Link, the company would “harass” her district councillors who rented their properties as offices. But Lee denied using such words.
Yuen said the message was clearly meant as a warning but it was not uttered in the form Ip described. He told a Commercial Radio programme that Lee said that if Ip continued to criticise the firm, “Link may have no choice but to not rent places to our party.”
Ip also said last Thursday that “harass” was not the exact phrase Lee had used, but she rephrased it to express how she felt.
The writ was seeking damages from Ip, but did not specify how much Lee was seeking as compensation.
Link Asset Management had said in a statement that it was shocked by the allegations: “The Company has never made any such threat to her through any individual.”
It said it previously engaged Simon Lee as a consultant solely to provide advice and research reports on public policy.
The police are investigating the case, according to the secretary for security.