The Department of Justice is appealing a magistrate’s decision not to proceed with ousted lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung’s contempt charge, after Leung took documents from a government official at a legislative meeting in 2016.

During a meeting on the Wang Chau housing controversy in November 2016, Leung took a folder from under the bench placed by then-under secretary for development Eric Ma. Leung had served as a legislator before being ejected in 2017 over his oath-taking. 

Leung Kwok-hung. File Photo: In-Media.

Ma reported the incident to the police and Leung was later charged with contempt under the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance.

Last Monday, however, Magistrate Ada Yim ruled that the contempt provision within the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance did not apply to lawmakers – and Leung therefore could not be charged.

Photo: In-Media.

At the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on Friday afternoon, a representative from the Department of Justice said that it will be appealing the magistrates’ decision, and will submit a question to the High Court as the case involved a constitutional issue.

The case has been adjourned awaiting the High Court’s decision. According to Leung, it will only proceed if the Department of Justice is successful.

Leung said on Friday afternoon that the ordinance was intended to protect the right of legislators to speak, rather than to prosecute lawmakers who were in the process of a meeting.

He also said that Chief Executive Carrie Lam has been relentless in pursuing him and was wasting public resources.

“She tells others to be forgiving towards Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng and ask to not bring [the incident] up again, with the illegal structures and subsequently the inherent problems with the process of declaring interests,” he said. “She asks others to be forgiving towards [Cheng] – but only not be forgiving towards me, Leung Kwok-hung.”

Cheng has been embroiled in controversy after taking office in January, when it transpired that there were a number of illegal structures at apartments belonging to her and her husband.

Not-for-profit, run by journalists and completely independent – HKFP relies on readers to keep us going. Contribute to our critical HK$1m Funding Driveends Monday. Help safeguard our independence and secure our operations for another year. Read how carefully we spend every cent in our Annual/Transparency Report.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.