A trainee solicitor, whose Facebook account published “hate speech” against police, has officially been allowed to practice as a lawyer after he denied making the comments.
Last month, Hong Kong’s Department of Justice (DoJ) demanded an explanation from Alfred Chu after complaints that he had written on social media that police officers and their families should die. The DoJ said a member of the public complained about his remarks and urged them to oppose his admission as a solicitor.
The DoJ later said it had accepted Chu’s explanation and would not take action. Chu’s admission, which was postponed to Monday, was handled by High Court Judge David Lok.
Lok said Chu filed an affirmation explaining that the Facebook message in question was posted by his girlfriend who had access to his account. After Chu learned of the message, he deleted it and later his Facebook account.
Chu’s claim was confirmed by his girlfriend, who expressed remorse over the comments.
Chu also handed supporting letters written by his friends, who wrote that they believed Chu would not have made the comments.
Lok allowed Chu’s admission on the basis that his explanation was true.
“I must remind the Applicant that, as an officer of the court, he cannot and should not do anything to mislead the court,” Lok wrote in the ruling. “If the statement had indeed come from the Applicant himself, the court may require further submissions before deciding whether the Applicant is a fit and proper person to be admitted as a solicitor.”
Lok wrote that a solicitor has a professional standard to meet, and Chu should have been more careful in managing his social media account.
“You certainly would not expect that your admission would become a matter of public interest attracting much attention of the press,” Lok wrote. “By failing to manage your social media account in a careful and responsible manner, you have to take responsibility for such protracted admission proceedings.”
“I hope that this would be a lesson for you, making you a more careful and responsible solicitor in the future. Remember, the robe that you are wearing for the first time today comes with a great responsibility to carry,” Lok added.
Protests over a now-scrapped bill that would have allowed extraditions to China have, throughout the summer, evolved into demonstrations against alleged police violence.
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