Buckle evasive over Tsui claim

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 June, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 June, 1994, 12:00am

MR Buckle was evasive about controversial claims that the ICAC had investigated a former Executive Councillor and a long-serving civil servant.

But he repeatedly denied the anti-graft body engaged in political vetting.

Mr Buckle said British intelligence units MI5 and MI6 had never sought his help, but said he could not speak for the commission as a whole.

In April, Mr Tsui told legislators Mr Buckle had asked him to prepare a list of political targets for use by the British Government after 1997.

He had claimed former treasury secretary Yeung Kai-yin left the civil service after the ICAC found he had a close relationship with Xinhua (the New China News Agency) and that the ICAC had bugged Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai's phone for a long period.

Mr de Speville said the allegations were totally unfounded.

But when questioned by legislator Peggy Lam Pei Yu-dja, Mr Buckle conferred with crown solicitor Ian Wingfield and said: ''I don't think I can answer questions on personalities who may or may not have been investigated by ICAC.'' He insisted ''there is not a shred of truth'' in claims of political vetting.

''Please believe me. There is no list and we have never done political vetting,'' he said. ''I have never asked Mr Tsui to prepare any list for targeting.'' Mr Tsui also alleged a key reason for his dismissal was his disagreement with Mr Buckle over the change in role of the ICAC to include integrity checks on civil servants.

But Mr Buckle said the row, which Mr Tsui claimed took place in April and May last year, could not have occurred because the ICAC was only asked by the administration to take over the job from the police Special Branch in a letter dated July 12.

Mr Tsui went on forced leave on August 8 and the director said he did not think Mr Tsui knew about the proposal at that time.

''I have no recollection of ever discussing it with him. I have certainly never had an argument with him on the subject,'' said Mr Buckle.

But he revealed he also had some concerns about the proposal, which he detailed in his reply to the administration dated August 6.

In his letter, he said: ''Legislators may perceive this as an assumption of greater power and increased controls which are not desirable in the light of 1997 and there are already expressed fears about the accountability of ICAC. I would not wish our prime responsibility to be prejudiced by such fears.'' He said he had sought ''assurances of exactly what we would be taking on''.