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  • Nov 29, 2014
  • Updated: 3:41pm
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CRIME

Fury as corrupt ex-Hong Kong prosecutor Warwick Reid sets up new legal firm

Anger and disgust in HK as disgraced lawyer Warwick Reid, jailed for taking bribes in 1990, sets up as a legal specialist in New Zealand

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 February, 2013, 3:13pm
 

A top Hong Kong prosecutor jailed for corruption has caused outrage in the city by reinventing himself as a legal services expert.

Warwick Reid, a former acting deputy director of public prosecutions, was sentenced to eight years in 1990 for taking HK$12.4 million in bribes. He was deported to his native New Zealand after serving four years.

But Reid, the most senior legal figure to be jailed for corruption in Hong Kong history, has now set up a company in his hometown of Tauranga.

ReidLegal - run by Reid, 65, and daughter Cassie - says on its website it provides "legal experts, specialising in employment law and legal services". The pair are careful to point out they do not act as lawyers. Because of Reid's criminal past, he cannot practise law here or in New Zealand.

Also, Reid's career biography on the site fails to mention his fall from grace here and a later term behind bars in New Zealand for perverting the course of justice in another Hong Kong case. His new venture has brought an angry and astonished outcry from the city's legal community.

Director of Public Prosecutions Kevin Zervos said: "Reid committed very serious crimes in Hong Kong as a lawyer and it is a matter of grave concern that he can provide legal services in another jurisdiction."

Zervos said he found it astonishing that someone whose offences struck at the very heart of the justice system should be allowed to offer legal advice of any kind. "He's obviously hoping that people have forgotten. But in matters this serious, it is everyone's job to make sure no one forgets," he added.

He's obviously hoping that people have forgotten. But in matters this serious, it is everyone's job to make sure no one forgets

A former colleague of Reid, Clive Grossman SC, said: "There was a palpable air of disbelief when Reid was suspended pending investigation, a disbelief that turned to outrage when he … later pleaded guilty to carefully manufactured corruption.

"In order to win himself time off what was obviously going to be a long sentence, he tried to incriminate as many people as he could - old friends too. I find it difficult even today to convey the degree of not only utter outrage, but also contempt, which the mention of his name evokes."

Barrister Kevin Egan, one of the many Reid tried - unsuccessfully - to incriminate, said: "The arrogance of the man knows no bounds. There is no mention [on the website] of his conviction for selling justice as the acting top prosecutor in Hong Kong. [There is] no mention of the years he was sent to jail for these crimes.

"Also, there's no mention of the fact that he did time in New Zealand after he was deported from Hong Kong for perverting the course of justice. What an extraordinary brass neck this boy has got."

Reid did not return phone calls and e-mails asking him to comment by press time.

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12

This article is now closed to comments

fearonjones
What incredibly childish comments. Law is a profession (I studied law at university and it is as much an intellectual excercise as a practical vocation) and as in any professional community you care to mention there are bound to be those who bring shame and dishonour to it. In Reid's case he was found out and duly punished. Why try to make silly political, anti-colonial, points out of it. There are good and bad in the Communist Party of China too, so get real....
jasminB
I am disgusted this has been brought up after decades of time gone by.
Warwick made a mistake; we are all human it is what we do. He has served his time and now has moved on to become a role model for his family and learnt his lesson.

Bringing up someone’s past is like a vendetta against them and is like trying to make them serve a sentence over again.
Kevin Zervos wants to make sure no-one forgets about the case and thinks it a complete outrage he is giving legal advice. Quoted by Kevin Zervos himself; "It is important to give a person a second chance and not to break their spirit".Well Kevin, Warwick has set up a small business to help local people with legal matters, did I mention the word HELP. He has in fact helped a lot of people in the local community along with his daughter Cassie. Warwick is not allowed to practice law, something he is extremely talented at, and this I believe this is his way of giving back and he is not harming anyone.
There are bigger problems in the word than holding on to a vendetta against someone.There are far bigger issues in this world that no one knows about, those should be the storys that should be in the paper I suggest you people who feel the need to victimise should use your time and energy on this earth more wisely.
billmpcb
Incredible! Why fuss over W Reid opening his small legal practice?
He already served his time for bribery he received from the Low brothers to reduce the charges they would face in the Ka Wah Bank massive fraud which defrauded HK government of HK$4bill in losses in 1985. The table turned when ICAC mounted an arrest of CH Low as soon as his release from Singapore prison in 1990. Low offered a plead bargain to ICAC to convict Reid in exchange of lenient sentence.
Incredible! Reid also pleaded leniency to be co-witnesses with Low to convict few high flying legal professionals who acted go-between to corrupt Reid. Both were housed next cells to each other in ICAC custody and Sui Lam psychiatric prison and met face to face. How convenient. No perversion of justice. They became credible Crown witnesses.
Corruption's not defined just in monetary terms, but also in the giving and taking of advantages of any form, including the prosecution wanting to achieve it's KPI rating. Isn't this perverting the course of justice of the highest degree? Why the Reid case overshadowed the massive KWB fraud and government massive write-off of HK$4billion?
Was there a cover up? Shouldn't the public or the legal eagles pay more attention to justice be seen to be done than the mere W Reid opening his small office? The public should be more furious.
aplucky1' comment is correct, "you use law created to crush you". It strikes fear. It has driven innocent people to commit suicide.
jayb
i don't get it. HKG's legal jurisprudence is as much about punishment as about rehabilitation. the guy successfully completed the court imposed sentence. why the big outcry against him attempting to make a living? Bill Clinton had his law license revoked after he lied to US under oath but he continued sitting on the board of many companies, went on paid speaking engagements and earned many million $$$. it is up to the people in his community in NZ (this is not even in HKG!) to hire him or not hire him. you can't be denying someone the right to make a living ad infinitum? did i miss anything?
shouken
Agree! It seems, some people like to grind a ex-con to death. Unless he was vastly under-punished previously, there is no reason to whip up a storm now.
blue
Agree. This outcry is absolutely shameless and hypocritical. I've seen more compassion for violent psychopaths. Reid is entitled to a second chance now that he has done his time.
mymak
Outraged lawyers? Did they bill the SCMP by the minute or by the hour for their considered opinions?
HKSandyGray
That's what I love about the newspaper/media people. They don't forget and they neve,r nver give up ( going to cry again) on the right to freedom of the presses!
pslhk
"I studied law at university", very interesting.
-
Can't imagine engineers, achetects, accountants, doctors ... etc
would ever say somthing erudite like that:
"I studied xyz at university"
-
You're right, law should be trained at vocational schools
Scott Turow, if you came across him at university,
(thank me for the flattery :-)
considers one year training is good enough for law
-
In-the-box thinkers certainly have self-understanding about what's childish
-
Honestly, you're right that
"There are good and bad in the Communist Party of China too"
Thanks for reminding those who need the platitude

pslhk
W Reid was probably a very bad person
With categorization and proportionality in mind,
consider the example of Russell Coleman, HKBA chairperson (2009-10)
who “was convicted and fined $4,000 at Western Court …
for aiding and abetting his domestic helper to work as a caretaker”
- SCMP 19AUG09 -
-
Legal professionals practice LAW
which they deceive themselves as justice
and delude the world as moralistic
-
HK in particular should wake up from colonial fantasy
and study Richard Susskind’s “Tomorrow’s Lawyers”

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