The court battle over the chief executive's election victory ratcheted down another notch yesterday when Leung Chun-ying dropped his appeal against a ruling favouring his antagonist, Albert Ho Chun-yan.
Leung had previously sought permission to appeal against the High Court ruling of September 12, which found the seven-day deadline for filing an election petition was unlawful and ruled the court had the power to extend the deadline.
Leung's U-turn came after a High Court judgment on Friday handed Ho a severe setback, when Mr Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon ruled that, while the court had the discretion to extend the deadline, Ho's case had too little merit to justify it.
Ho's petition is based on the claim that Leung was not duly elected because he made false statements during his campaign, implying he had no illegal structures at his home - a claim that was later proved to be false.
Election petitions should be filed within seven working days after election results are released, but Ho's challenge was filed about three months later.
Ho argued his late application should be excused because the revelation of illegal structures at Leung's home on The Peak came only three months after the poll result was announced.
In court, Leung's lawyers did not explain why they had decided to withdraw the application. Lawyers for the government said they, too, would drop the application.
Leung's legal team had argued the election laws did not allow the deadline for filing an election petition to be extended, as it was the legislative intention that any dispute be resolved expeditiously for the sake of securing the finality of the result.
Martin Lee Chu-ming SC, for Ho, said his client would continue to appeal against the ruling on the constitutionality of the seven-day deadline.
They wanted the week-long time limit struck down as unconstitutional, and urged the legislature to decide on a new time limit. They intended to take the matter to the Court of Final Appeal directly, skipping the appeal courts.
Last week, Judge Lam ruled he would not extend the deadline on the grounds that Ho had no real prospect of success.