I knew ICAC was out to get me, Egan tells court

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 May, 2006, 12:00am

Barrister says he had a 'thorny' relationship with graft-busters

Barrister Kevin Egan said yesterday that his 'thorny' relationship with the ICAC led him to expect, shortly before his arrest for alleged conspiracy to pervert justice, that 'something nasty' would happen.

He told the court he had anticipated this by copying to Andrew Lam Ping-cheung, whom he had planned to hire as his solicitor in the event of his arrest, a letter he sent to the secretary for justice on July 19, 2004.

In the letter, Egan defended his innocence after the Court of Appeal referred a complaint to the secretary for justice that the identity of a woman on the witness protection programme had been leaked to the press during a habeas corpus application launched by Egan.

Egan said the secretary for justice replied that she had referred the matter to the director of public prosecutions, Grenville Cross. But Mr Cross did not contact him.

'My relations with the ICAC are thorny at best ... It's a long and complicated history,' Egan testified. He said he had been involved in various high-profile cases resulting in 'victory for us and defeat for the ICAC ... I suspected that when the opportunity came, the ICAC would give me grief', he said.

Egan, 59, Lam, 54, Semtech International Holdings chairman Derek Wong Chong-kwong, 38, and his lover, Mandy Chui Man-si, 26, are accused of trying to pressure the Independent Commission Against Corruption into releasing Becky Wong Pui-see, a potential witness against her employer, Derek Wong. The four have denied a joint count of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The two lawyers have denied charges in relation to disclosing Becky Wong's identity to the press.

Prosecutor Martin Wilson, QC, argued when cross-examining Egan that he copied the letter to Lam because it was of interest to the solicitor, who was also involved in the alleged conspiracy.

'Do you think it would be an odd choice of solicitor - that he was the man who introduced you to [his client] Derek Wong, as a result of which you got yourself into trouble?' Mr Wilson asked.

Egan described the prosecution's theory that Lam was the mastermind of the conspiracy as 'total nonsense'. The prosecutor also said Egan's habeas corpus proceedings to seek access to Becky Wong were a 'charade' that began after government counsel Bernard Ryan testified that she was on the witness protection programme.

'Your suggestion is nonsense,' Egan replied.

In earlier testimony, Egan agreed with Graham Harris, counsel for Lam, when he asked: 'Do you agree that those of us who defend as counsels or solicitors in these sorts of cases see it as an occupational hazard that our telephones are routinely monitored by the ICAC?'

Defence lawyers said the ICAC had refused their request for materials related to intercepted phone calls by Egan and Lam.

The case continues today.