By Tom Grundy, Jennifer Creery and Rachel Wong.
The High Court has ordered the MTR Corporation to hand over CCTV footage from Prince Edward and Lai Chi Kok Stations to a student who is seeking damages from the police for alleged assault. However, the plaintiff will not be allowed to disclose them to the public.
On August 31 last year, baton-wielding riot police stormed into the station, deploying pepper spray and leaving dozens injured. The transit firm has since resisted calls to release the CCTV clips from the night, publishing only still images.
Kex Leung Yiu-ting, head of Education University’s student union, was arrested at Prince Edward station on the night in question and said he was beaten by police. Leung said he was passing through the station and was not participating in any protest. He is also claiming damages for alleged unlawful arrest.
He applied to the court for a Norwich Pharmacal Order to force the disclosure of the security camera footage. It must now be released within 10 days.
The court said on Wednesday that clips must be handed over of Prince Edward Station between 10:40pm on 31 August 2019 to 1:30am on September 1, as well as from Lai Chi Station between 1:25am to 2 am on September 1, 2019. It ruled that the footage may only be used by the plaintiff in regards to his case – copying or further disclosing the footage would not be allowed.
Last September, MTR chief Adi Lau said that the CCTV footage could not yet be disclosed over privacy issues affecting other passengers. However, the Judge Anderson Chow said that the firm’s concerns over data privacy were no longer valid in Leung’s case.
Chow added that the overall circumstances in Prince Edward Station would be relevant in assessing whether the conduct of the police would justify an award for damages: “[I]t seems to me that the overall circumstances prevailing in Prince Edward Station at that time, the acts or behaviour of the passengers inside the station, the number of people that the Police had to control relative to the number of police officers involved, as well as the conduct of the Police in the entire operation… are matters which it would be relevant for the court’s consideration,” he wrote.
Protests erupted last June over a now-axed extradition bill. They have escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour, amid calls for democracy and anger over Beijing’s encroachment.