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‘Reputation tarnished’: Lawmaker Junius Ho sues lawyer for defamation following op-ed battle

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho filed a defamation lawsuit on Wednesday against lawyer Kevin Yam, who penned an opinion article urging other lawyers not to vote for Ho in an upcoming leadership election of the Law Society, a professional body for the city’s solicitors.

In a legal document, Ho said he “has been gravely injured in his character and reputation and has been brought into public scandal, odium and contempt and in particular amongst his peers in the legal profession.”

Junius Ho Kwan-yiu

Junius Ho Kwan-yiu. Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

He said he was “gravely distressed and embarrassed” by Yam’s article, while his reputation had been “tarnished and gravely injured.”

The lawmaker is seeking damages and a court order to bar Yam from republishing the article and making similar statements against him. He also requested an apology from Yam and the removal of the article from media outlets.

In response, Yam said Wednesday: “I am bewildered and disappointed that a public figure would see fit to sue on the expression of views over factual matters of public record. I will firmly defend these proceedings.”

“This move by Mr. Ho will not stop me from asking Law Society Members not to vote for him,” he added.

‘Calculative’

Earlier this month, Yam published an op-ed listing seven reasons why lawyers should not vote for Ho, who is seeking re-election on the Law Society’s governing council.

The reasons were based on statements made by Ho in the past, including his comparison between homosexuality and bestiality. Yam also commented on the remarks, such as saying that Ho is “homophobic.”

kevin yam

Kevin Yam. File Photo: Cloud.

Ho argued that Yam’s article was offensive and “calculated to disparage [Ho] in the way of how [he] acted as a Law Society Council Member, LegCo Member and generally as a legal practitioner in Hong Kong.”

For example, he said the reference of his position on homosexuality implied that he “discriminates against homosexual lawyers and will likely carry such bigotry into the Law Society Council and obstructs the development of a tolerant culture against sexual minority within the legal industry.”

In his rebuttal published by Hong Kong Free Press, Ho said Yam’s allegations were “not true and without any substance.”

“It is inappropriate for Kevin to have taken things out of the context and criticized me for being contemptuous to courts, female or homosexuals,” the lawmaker said.

See also: ‘Protect family values’: Hong Kong gov’t urged to appeal ruling on marriage benefits for gay couple

Yam has 14 days to respond to Ho’s legal action.

Ho has been as a council member of the Law Society for more than 22 years. He was the vice-president between 2005 and 2011.

'Reputation tarnished': Lawmaker Junius Ho sues lawyer for defamation following op-ed battle