Hong Kong Law & Crime Politics & Protest

‘A mere busybody’: High Court judge slams ‘king of judicial review’ over police rally legal challenge

A High Court judge has criticised “king of judicial review” Kwok Cheuk-kin for being “a mere busybody” in relation to the legal challenge Kwok lodged over a rally held by the police.

The Hong Kong Police Inspectors’ Association and the Junior Police Officers’ Association held a gathering on February 22 following the sentencing of the seven cops who were found guilty of assaulting pro-democracy activist Ken Tsang during the 2014 Occupy protests. They were all given jail sentences, which they are currently appealing.

Kwok lodged a judicial review arguing that the meeting was public and that it was hence an unauthorised assembly under section 17A(2) of the Public Order Ordinance. He sought an order to require the commissioner to investigate the conduct of the meeting and determine whether any offence has been committed.

police rally

Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

In a judgment handed down on Thursday, Judge Anderson Chow said it was not disputed that the police commissioner gave no notice under section 7(1). The relevant section states the requirement for a notice of the intention to hold a public meeting.

However, he noted that the commissioner and justice secretary had both said that the meeting was exempted from the section because of its “professional” or “business” nature.

Chow further said in the judgment that the meeting was not a public one and was not therefore covered by section 7(1) of the Public Order Ordinance. The meeting was held on the premises of the Police Sports and Recreation Club, “which undoubtedly were private premises” and there was no evidence to indicate that the public were permitted to attend the meeting, he added.

Chow also said that Kwok did not have sufficient interest to lodge a judicial review challenge, as “an applicant is not to be regarded as having a ‘sufficient interest’ because the issue raised by him is of public interest.” The judge added that Kwok was not a police officer or staff member; therefore, “it is plainly incorrect to say that there is no potential claimant that is better placed to bring the present challenge to the court.”

Kwok Cheuk-kin,

Kwok Cheuk-kin. Photo: In-Media.

“It is ironic that in the present application, the applicant would be seeking an interpretation of the Ordinance by the court which would impose stricter regulatory constraints upon meetings and assemblies in Hong Kong,” he said. He added that one would have thought the applicant would be advocating for greater freedom of assembly as a frequent participant of public meetings.

“In my view, the applicant can properly be described as a ‘mere busybody’ or ‘mere meddler’, without it being necessary to label his application as having been actuated by ill motive or ill-will.”

'A mere busybody': High Court judge slams 'king of judicial review' over police rally legal challenge