Former chief executive Leung Chun-ying filed for defamation against university professor Chung Kim-wah and news outlet Stand News on Friday, alleging that they ran an article that falsely associated Leung with the triads.
In a Facebook post published on Friday afternoon, Leung said that his lawyers had filed the case with the High Court, and attached links to the legal letters that his lawyer previously sent to the two parties.
“Hong Kong people have the freedom of speech and of the press. At the same time, everyone has the right to be free from defamation. This right is protected by civil and criminal law, and those who make inaccurate allegations should be sanctioned by law,” Leung wrote.
Leung claimed damages for libel – including aggravated and exemplary damages – and an injunction restraining the defendants from publishing similar defamatory statements. The defendants have 14 days to make their reply.
Stand News Chief Editor Chung Pui-kuen said that the matter had been referred to lawyers. He said that Leung is an influential political figure in Hong Kong, and urged him not to use litigation to silence commentators and the media.
On August 14, Leung’s lawyers sent letters to Stand News and Chung Kim-wah, demanding the withdrawal of an article and its accompanying picture, which were published on August 12. Leung also demanded an apology and damages.
The letter alleged that the article, written by Chung and published on Stand News, “made a number of unfounded allegations that a close relationship existed between Mr Leung and the triad society or the underworld.”
The article by Chung, an assistant professor at Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Department of Applied Social Sciences, mentioned a widely reported dinner at a Lau Fau Shan restaurant in February 2012 between Leung’s aides and people who allegedly had triad ties.
It also mentioned another widely reported incident in August 2013 when alleged triad members appeared outside a town hall meeting of Leung’s and attacked anti-Leung protesters.
The lawyers’ letters also added that a graphic made by Stand News portrayed Leung as a member of the underworld with “falsified tattoos on his left arm and over his chest, holding a folding chair while walking down a street, and being looked upon by a huge crowd of passersby.”
At the time, Chung Kim-wah responded that he would not retract his article because the claims were factually true.
Chung Pui-kuen said he did not believe the article defamed Leung, and invited him to write an article for the news site in response.