Jury trial for Chan libel case

Top News | Winnie Chong 30 May 2013

A libel suit against Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po and his wife will be heard by a jury in the High Court next year.

The lawsuit was filed by a member of the board of governors at the Chinese International School, Carl Lu, and his twin children.

It claims that in December 2011, Chan and his wife, Frieda Hui Po-ming - who have a daughter in the same school - sent e-mails and a note to parents saying some students cheated in an exam.

Recipients included the former chair of the school's parent-teacher association and his wife, senior assistant director of public prosecutions Fanny Wong Kam- hing.

The plaintiffs state that Chan and his wife had accused Lu's twins of cheating in an economics examination and claimed it was not for the first time.

They added the twins escaped responsibility as Lu was a school governor.

The Lu family contend that Chan and his wife sent a second e-mail despite being assured by the principal that the children did not cheat.

They claim that by accusing them of covering up, Chan and his wife had damaged their reputation.

They are seeking a court restraint on Chan and his wife from further defamatory statements as well as punitive damages.

High Court judge Jeremy Poon Shiu- chor granted the request for a jury trial to be heard next year on a date to be fixed.

Lu will call five witnesses, including the principal and teachers, while Chan will summon 14.

Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung told The Standard a High Court jury trial is a matter of choice for plaintiffs.

"Since the use of some words may have different meanings, some plaintiffs believe a jury will have a more objective and reasonable understanding," Luk said.

He said as far as he can recall, most libel cases are not heard by a jury.

He added selecting a jury involves a complicated procedure but that juries are not swayed by the popularity of the accused.

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