Reid deportation plan decided at secret talks
FOUNDATIONS of an elaborate plan for the safe deportation of corrupt lawyer Warwick Reid were laid at a secret meeting of top officials yesterday.
Perceived threats to the life of the jailed former acting director of public prosecutions are being taken seriously at the highest levels of the Security Branch and Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), sources revealed.
Secretary for Security Alistair Asprey called an hour-long meeting yesterday of about a dozen ICAC, police, Immigration Department, Security Branch and Correctional Services chiefs to hammer out arrangements for Reid's release.
Several security options geared to guarantee that Reid is seen safely on to a plane and out of Hong Kong for good were considered.
'Once he is out of Hong Kong's jurisdiction he will no longer be our responsibility and will become somebody else's problem,' a senior source said.
'But until then, we are bound to make sure he stays out of harm's way and that means ensuring his safety from his cell to the aircraft.' The involvement of Mr Asprey and other top officials in the meeting, including Police Senior Assistant Commissioner Toby Emmet, Immigration Assistant Director Christopher Lee Ka-keung and Correctional Services Deputy Commissioner Raymond Lai Ming-kee, has underlined the degree of concern over Reid's safety.
It is understood Reid may be moved from the protective wing of Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre in Castle Peak before Tuesday or released a day earlier than scheduled under a Prisons Ordinance 'leave of absence' provision, which would necessitate Governor Chris Patten granting a special permit.
As Reid is subject to a deportation order, his release from custody will be immediately followed by him being 're-arrested' by an Immigration official and then dispatched from Hong Kong.
The New Zealander will return to his home country to rejoin his wife, Judith, and three children. His future security will be a matter for the Wellington-based police Witness Protection Programme into which he has been accepted.
The precise details of how Hong Kong authorities will protect Reid from enemies and a media contingent will be finalised after further talks between Mr Asprey and the ICAC.
Reid, 47, is due to be freed on Tuesday morning after serving four years and eight months of an eight-year sentence for having assets he could not explain.
The former head of the Legal Department's Commercial Crime Unit has admitted receiving $12.4 million in bribes over prosecutions he was in a position to influence and is perceived to be at risk of retribution from criminals harmed by his co-operation with the Crown in a number of trials.