Two Hong Kong activists have applied for legal aid from the government in order to file a judicial review against its decision not to prosecute former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying and pro-Beijing lawmaker Holden Chow.

The Department of Justice last month said that there was insufficient evidence to convict Leung and Chow for corruption and misconduct in public office.

The department had been criticised for not seeking outside legal advice to avoid a perception of bias before announcing its decision.

Lam Cheuk-ting
Lam Cheuk-ting. Photo: Line Post screenshot.

The two applicants were Cheung Tak-wing, a retiree, and Edith Leung, a Democratic Party standing committee member.

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, who is helping the two applicants, said the department violated its usual practice by not seeking outside advice for sensitive cases.

“We believe that [Secretary for Justice] Teresa Cheng has interpreted the Department of Justice’s guidelines wrongly,” he said.

He said that residents would only be able to raise judicial reviews within three months of the department’s decision not to prosecute, therefore they could not wait before Cheng’s appearance at a legal panel next week at the legislature.

cy Leung Chun-ying
Leung Chun-ying. File photo: European Business Summit, via Flickr.

Lam said the deputy of the Legal Aid Department told him that the department will seek outside legal advice in determining whether to approve the legal aid application.

“It shows they attach importance to this application,” he said.

Lam said they did not use the remaining HK$1.3 million in funds they raised from a crowdfunding campaign to investigate Leung, since the money may not be enough. Lam said UK and Australian legal teams were still looking into the case, and the campaign may file a private prosecution demand.

Leung received HK$50 million from Australian engineering firm UGL as part of a takeover deal with insolvent property company DTZ, to prevent him from joining a rival firm within two years. The deal was signed shortly after Leung ran for chief executive in 2011. He received part of the payment after he became chief executive in 2012.

Holden Chow last year allowed Leung to revise the scope of a Legislative Council investigation into Leung. Chow was the vice-chair of the investigation committee.

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Last month, activist Kwok Cheuk-kin – nicknamed the “King of Judicial Review” – filed his own legal challenge over the Department of Justice’s decision not to prosecute Leung.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.