Judge grants activists legal aid for review of Queen's Pier status

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 August, 2007, 12:00am

A judge yesterday granted Queen's Pier activists legal aid for their judicial review of the decision not to declare it a monument, three days after the government turned down their application for funds.

The Legal Aid Department rejected the application by Chu Hoi-dick and Ho Loy, of the group Local Action, on the grounds they had not shown they had a chance of winning the case.

They appealed against the department's decision, and High Court Registrar Queeny Au Yeung Kwai-yue accepted their argument that the case was in the public interest. The judicial review hearing, which begins today, could cost HK$600,000.

Mr Chu said the implications of the judicial review would not be confined to the pier - which the government boarded up last week after police evicted protesters to make way for a bypass - and could prompt an overhaul of the heritage conservation system.

Antiquities Advisory Board member Ng Cho-nam said the case might help clarify the board's role and the judge could recommend new rules on declaring monument status.

Local Action's case is that former home affairs secretary Patrick Ho Chi-ping, in his capacity as Antiquities Authority, may have considered irrelevant factors in his deliberation on whether to declare the pier in Central a monument. It also claims the authority adopted a standard for monument status that was higher than the law requires when assessing the pier's status.

The government says the pier does not possess the requisite historical, archaeological or palaeontological significance for monument status, despite the antiquities board designating it a Grade 1 historic building.