Hospital Authority staff leaked ICAC secret, court told

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2006, 12:00am

Manager, former public affairs worker accused of faxing case details to media

A Hospital Authority manager and a former staff member have appeared in court charged with passing information about an ICAC investigation of a senior authority worker to the media.

Authority design manager Vasco Lee Yum-sang, 44, and Fu Bik, 32, a former assistant public affairs manager, were jointly charged with one count of conspiracy to disclose the identity of a person being investigated. Lee denied the charge. Fu, who is five months' pregnant, pleaded guilty and gave evidence for the prosecution.

ICAC assistant investigator Eva Wong Lai-shan told Eastern Court yesterday that Lee had complained to the agency in April last year that his superior - identified in court as Mrs Chan - had been involved in corruptly offering a contract to a subcontractor.

Ms Wong said she had told Lee he could not disclose information or the name of the target of an investigation to anyone.

Fu told the court she had drafted a fax based on the information Lee had given her and sent it to the media, stating that the ICAC had summoned manager Mrs Chan to an interview at its Central headquarters at 2.30pm on September 22 last year.

'Lee asked me to send out a fax to announce the case, because he knew that Mrs Chan had booked a car to attend the ICAC interview between 2 and 3pm,' she said.

'He urged me to send it to the media before 2.30pm. He wished to put pressure on the Hospital Authority and the ICAC. He believed reporters would wait for Mrs Chan outside the ICAC office after receiving the fax.'

Accusations contained in the fax, which was sent to the media, including two television stations, appeared in nine local newspapers the next day.

The alleged graft was later found to be unsubstantiated.

Mrs Chan told the court yesterday she did not know she was the subject of an ICAC investigation but thought she was only to 'assist in providing information' over the issue.

She told prosecutor William Tam she was shocked when, before leaving the office to go to the ICAC, she was shown a copy of the fax by a colleague who had received it from ATV for confirmation.

Mrs Chan called ICAC officer Marco Law, who called off the meeting that day. Five days later, ICAC officers met her in a Hospital Authority office.

Defence counsel Peter Duncan SC, for Lee, asked whether Mrs Chan might have told other colleagues about her ICAC interview beforehand.

Mrs Chan said she had told two colleagues to help her get some files so she could refresh her memory for the interview. But she told the pair the matter was 'confidential'.

She also told a secretary to arrange a car to take her to the Murray Building but did not say she was going to the ICAC headquarters.

The case continues today before Magistrate William Lam Kui-po.