Carrie Lam denies interfering in Leung illegal structures probe
Chief secretary insists she had no influence in investigation into illegal structures at C.Y.'s home
The chief secretary denied yesterday that she had interfered in an investigation by the Buildings Department into illegal structures at the home of her then future boss, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's denial came amid suggestions the department had hidden from the public information on a suspicious-looking wall at one of Leung's homes on The Peak.
She was speaking after the department was found to have made an evasive response to a media inquiry about the wall at No4 Peel Rise and a possible illegal room behind it, two days before Leung's appointment in July.
"I was only informed of the department's actions, press statements and replies to the media. The Buildings Department is the only body to execute the law," said Lam, who as development secretary at the time was in charge of the department.
Questions from the Apple Daily newspaper sent to the department on June 28 asked whether officers who inspected Leung's house found a newly built wall on the lower ground floor and whether they suspected another room was behind it.
The department replied the following day, saying that it had not found any illegal structures and had asked the owner's "authorised person" for more information.
The reply, which did not mention the wall, conflicts with what the department said on Tuesday. Then, it said that in the June 26 inspection it had found the position of an external wall did not match the building plan and had sent four written requests to Leung for more details.
Politicians accused the department yesterday of hiding from the public at a sensitive time the possibility that Leung had an illegal extension. They also questioned whether Lam had covered up the facts to protect Leung.
Lam said there was no room for intervention by others, "including secretaries" in the department work.
A spokeswoman for the department said it would not usually disclose details of an unfinished investigation and insisted it had not given anyone special treatment.
Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah said Lam had pledged to give priority to cases involving prominent figures.
"Why did the department only conduct its second inspection to Leung's home a few days ago?" he asked.
Both the Labour Party and Civic Party said they would seek support from Legco's house committee to launch an inquiry into Leung's illegal structures.
Engineer Gregory Wong Chak-yan and surveyor Vincent Ho Kui-yip said the department was not justified in obtaining a warrant for further inspection as it could not tell if there was an illegal structure behind the wall.
"We should give priority to dealing with cases involving prominent figures but they should be treated the same as everyone else," Ho said.