Chief prosecutor will get new contract

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 April, 2006, 12:00am

Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung has decided to renew the contract of Grenville Cross, the director of public prosecutions, whose contract is due to expire in October.

In a bid to maintain the stability of the department, Mr Wong has also extended law officer Ian Wingfield's contract for two years, to 2008.

Mr Cross yesterday refused to comment on the renewal of his contract for a fourth term.

But a source from the department said: 'Mr Cross' new term should be two or three years.'

Mr Cross had revealed at a press conference this month that he had applied for renewal of his year-long contract, in a move described by senior prosecutors at the department as 'unusual'.

His remarks came amid rumours that Mr Wong intended to bring in a privately practising barrister to head the public prosecutions office and Mr Cross would retire this year.

At the press conference, Mr Cross dismissed such rumours and said he had co-operated extremely well with Mr Wong, just as he had done with former secretary for justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie.

Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan said: 'It is good for the stability of the Department of Justice to extend top officials' terms. Mr Wong is a newcomer, he needs a veteran prosecutor in helping to deal with complicated cases and meet the requirement of accountability.'

A member of the Legislative Council's administration of justice and legal services panel, Ma Lik, who is also the chairman of Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said it would have been rare for a new boss like Mr Wong to make such a big change, especially when such a senior official had expressed his willingness to stay.

Mr Wong was appointed justice secretary last October.

Legal sources said Solicitor-General Bob Allcock would retire next year, when he turns 60, but that law draftsman Tony Yen Yuen-ho, whose contract ends early next year, might stay longer.