Winner of close race blames helper for lapse in filing papers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 January, 2013, 3:55am

A district councillor who won a 2011 election by two votes failed to file a written consent from 50 supporters before publishing their names in advertising material, the High Court heard yesterday.

Edward Leung Wai-kuen is applying to the Court of First Instance to allow him to file the written consent of support retrospectively.

The application was opposed by defeated candidate Lam Kin-man who had earlier lodged an election petition against the voting result.

A decision on the petition will be made depending on the result of Leung's court application.

Leung, a social worker with no political affiliation, won the King's Park district council seat with 1,045 votes.

His lawyers said Leung did not wilfully break the rules. The mistakes were made by his election assistant, who was a volunteer, they said.

It was the first time the assistant was involved in an election and he did not know the rule that supporters' names could only be published after their written consent had been submitted to the returning officer as required under the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance.

"The forms had already been collected by the assistant but he didn't know about the requirement [to file the forms]," the lawyer said.

"He did not know about the huge consequence," they said.

But Mr Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon said it was clear from the evidence that Leung did not delegate the duty to the assistant.

Therefore it must be Leung's responsibility to make sure the written consent of support was filed before the advertisements were printed and distributed, the judge said.

"The nature of the non-compliance is unfair to other candidates. It's not a question of genuine support," he said.

Leung was "reckless" in handling the matter and Lam said the court would not accept the matter lightly.

Lam reserved his judgment and will give a written decision at a later date.