Apple may retrieve papers if warrants ruled invalid

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 December, 1999, 12:00am

Anti-graft officers will have to return - untouched - material seized from the Apple Daily if a judge quashes two search warrants on Monday, a court heard yesterday.

Mr Justice Gareth Lugar-Mawson is to rule on the newspaper's application to set aside the warrants two weeks after they were executed.

Officers from the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) seized an unknown amount of material from the newspaper's Tseung Kwan O premises on November 29.

The raid was part of an investigation into allegations the popular newspaper paid for tip-offs from police.

Andrew Bruce SC, for the ICAC, told the Court of First Instance that the material, which has been under lock and key, was with the ICAC.

Philip Dykes, SC, for the newspaper, asked for the material to be returned if the judge ruled in its favour and Mr Bruce did not contest.

'These warrants on the face of it are defective and so defective that they are invalid. You should set them aside,' Mr Dykes urged Mr Justice Lugar-Mawson.

Mr Dykes said the power to seize must come from the warrants and not the law which empowered seizure of evidence, as suggested by Mr Bruce.

'The ICAC power is to seize evidence . . . Seizing evidence is different from seizing material which may be relevant,' Mr Dykes said.

What the warrants authorised was seizure of material 'likely to be relevant' to the investigation for which the warrants had been issued.

One of the warrants was issued under provisions governing search and seizure of journalist material.

But because one warrant allowed power of entry and the other allowed power of seizure of journalistic material, this did not mean that the powers permitted in the first warrant could be transferred to the second.

'It means the ICAC officers are not authorised to seize any journalist material under the warrant,' Mr Dykes said.