Pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho says he will take part next month in an online hearing before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in England, which could see him stripped of his licence to practise law there over an alleged threat of violence against political opponents.
The tribunal under the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) will decide whether Ho committed misconduct, based on remarks he made during a rally in Hong Kong in 2017. A successful prosecution may strip Ho of his license to practice as a lawyer in England and Wales.
In an interview with Apple Daily on Thursday, Ho said legal authorities had “fundamentally misunderstood what happened” and pursuing the case years later was “regrettable for the UK.”
“Whatever will be the outcome, I’ll accept it calmly. But it will be the UK’s loss,” Ho said, referring to potentially losing his lawyer’s status. He said he had also made a written submission to the disciplinary body, which only covers England and Wales.
The SRA has decided to prosecute Ho for his remarks at the rally in September 2017, Hong Kong Watch activist Luke de Pulford posted on Twitter this week. It will meet between December 14-17 to decide whether his remarks “carried a meaning to the effect that political opponents to the issue under discussion should be killed,” “were capable of being perceived as inciting violence against opponents,” and “were capable of causing offence.”
The tribunal is an independent statutory body that hears allegations of misconduct by solicitors, registered foreign lawyers or other individuals or bodies in the legal profession.
At a public rally against pro-democracy professor Benny Tai three years ago, a pro-Beijing figure said, “If they didn’t consider themselves to be Chinese, then they are foreigners inciting HK independence. We must kill!” To which Ho twice shouted, “Without mercy.”
Ho attracted condemnation from pro-democracy lawmakers afterwards.
When Ho spoke to media after the rally, he also said: “If those who are pro-independence lead to the subversion of the fate of the country… why shouldn’t these people be killed?” and “What’s wrong with killing during a war?” Hong Kong police investigated the case, but concluded in 2018 that there was not enough evidence to charge anyone.
Ho denied inciting violence and told Apple Daily he was trying to dilute the speech made by the other person on stage when that person uttered the word “kill”. Ho said what he meant was that whoever had committed a serious offence akin to killing should not be treated with mercy.
“I’m happy everyday, though I might still get a bit nervous when challenges like this happen. But even if you fell, it’s normal to feel upset,” he added.