A Hong Kong court has revoked a search warrant granted to the police to seize the private medical records of a woman who accused officers of raping her inside a station.
Earlier this month, police confirmed that a woman filed a complaint to the force on October 22 alleging that she had been raped in Tsuen Wan Police Station. The woman – known only as “Ms X” – alleged that she was gang-raped and had to undergo an abortion in the aftermath.
On Tuesday, the court formally cancelled a search warrant into X’s medical records as well as CCTV footage from the clinic of her private doctor, following a November 5 order to temporarily suspend the warrant.
The move by law enforcement to seize X’s medical records – including those pre-dating her alleged sexual assault – was denounced by her lawyer as an “abuse of police power” and a “gross invasion of privacy.”
“Police took the extraordinary step of taking out the search warrant in respect of a victim of sexual violence in early November, without Ms X’s knowledge or consent. The police did so shortly after Ms X took the courageous step of filing a report to police about her rape inside Tsuen Wan Police Station,” Michael Vidler said in a statement on Wednesday.
“She had expected that her report would be investigated with impartiality, in strict confidence, and with respect for her privacy and dignity.”
X learnt of the existence of the search warrant on November 4 and immediately challenged the warrant in court. The magistrate suspended the search warrant the next day and granted an anonymity order, which continues to remain in effect.
Earlier this month, police representative John Tse – who at the time led the Police Public Relations Bureau – allegedly told some news outlets privately that X “was a bit mental.” Tse later denied making the comments.
Vidler said that the police were trying to discredit X’s accusation and diminish the prospect of a successful prosecution.
“The police investigating Ms X’s case appear to have systematically worked to discredit her and to undermine her complaint,” he said at the time. “Ms X considers that any attempt by police to publicly discredit a rape victim and adversely comment on evidence in an on-going investigation is despicable and offensive.”
Hong Kong Free Press relies on direct reader support. Help safeguard independent journalism and press freedom as we invest more in freelancers, overtime, safety gear & insurance during this summer’s protests. 10 ways to support us.