The Department of Justice has said it will not charge pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho after he allegedly made a false statement about his lawyer qualifications.
In 2016, an election pamphlet for Ho’s candidacy in the Legislative Council election stated that he was a “solicitor in Singapore, England and Wales.” The Chinese part of the leaflet stated that he was a “practising member” in Singapore, England and Wales.
However, whilst Ho was admitted as a solicitor in Singapore, England and Wales, he did not hold practising certificates for the jurisdictions. The discrepancy came to light last year when the UK’s Solicitors Regulation Authority responded to a complaint about a speech in which Ho called for the killing of Hong Kong independence advocates.
Pro-democracy politicians then filed complaints to Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) alleging a false statement.
A spokesperson for the ICAC confirmed that it received complaints and had completed the investigation. They said that legal advice had been sought from the Department of Justice, and the department decided it would not prosecute the relevant person owing to inadequate evidence.
The spokesperson added that the ICAC reported the result of the investigation to the Operations Review Committee – an independent body – on July 25, and the Committee agreed with the result. The ICAC has notified those who filed the complaints.
Section 26 of the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance of Hong Kong stipulates that a person may be guilty of an offence if they publish a materially false or misleading statement of fact about an election candidate the purpose of promoting or prejudicing an election.
Neo Democrats District Councillor Roy Tam, one of those who filed a complaint, said he received a letter of notification from the ICAC. He said he was “frustrated” by the result.
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Ho’s Chinese biography on the K. C. Ho & Fong website originally stated that he was a “practising member” in Singapore, England and Wales.
The page was then updated to add the word “qualification,” to suggest that he could potentially become a practising member, but that he was not necessarily practising.
Ho said that there was a “typographical error” – a common term in Chinese for rendering errors – on the original Chinese page, which omitted the term “qualification”. It was thus fixed.
He also updated his Legislative Council biography in Chinese.
Last year, the police said Ho would not be prosecuted for taking a “selfie” inside a courthouse and then posting it on social media.