High Court denies Next Digital’s request for seized papers

Local | 10 Jun 2021 8:14 pm

The High Court today turned down Next Digital's request for police to return a part of seized documents in a raid last August. 

In a police raid of its headquarters last August, police seized around 30 boxes of documents and arrested 10 people, including founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, the company’s four senior managers and Lai’s two sons. Lai was arrested for colluding with foreign forces and fraud in separate cases.

The company filed a bid to High Court, hoping it would order the police to return any privileged legal and journalistic materials seized during the raid, and also paperwork not covered by the police's search warrant. 

It also applied for an injunction to stop the police from using the materials seized when investigating the defrauding case. 

In a written judgment handed down today, High Court judge Wilson Chan Ka-shun wrote that any challenge against the lawfulness of a search warrant is within the exclusive purview of judicial review. 

Chan also said the court simply has no jurisdiction to entertain a challenge as to the lawfulness of a search warrant. He added it is an abuse of process for the plaintiffs to mount the lawfulness challenge in the proceedings. 

He pointed out that police is empowered under the common law to reasonably take and detain goods which they come upon and reasonably believe to be material evidence in some other crime. 

The legal representative for Next Digital earlier said the search warrants of the police were issued based on national security law, not the Police Force Ordinance. Therefore the material seized should only be used in investigations relevant to the national security law. 

The lawyer also hoped the court would soon decide whether the seizure is lawful, saying that the trial for Lai’s defrauding case will begin in March next year.

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