Former top HK prosecutor Warwick Reid tells of his shame over crimes

Ex-prosecutor says his life fell apart after being deported, but enjoys using his legal skills again

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 February, 2013, 3:46am

Former Hong Kong prosecutions chief Warwick Reid yesterday spoke of the "shame" he feels about his criminal past.

Reid, the most senior legal official ever convicted of corruption in Hong Kong, also said that since his deportation in 1994 his life had been "devastated".

A failed mussel-processing business left him with a huge tax bill; he lost a gym he owned when graft-busters closed him down; and his family was torn apart by a marriage break-up and the suicide of the brother he once claimed had "dobbed him in" to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Such was the extent of his downfall that Reid said he had been forced to start driving buses to make ends meet.

The 65-year-old former acting director of public prosecutions in Hong Kong, who was jailed for taking HK$12.4 million in bribes from people who thought he could influence their prosecutions, said he was not surprised at the vitriol still aimed at him by senior legal figures in the city.

When the Post revealed he was running a legal advocacy business, former colleague Clive Grossman SC said he could not convey the "utter outrage and contempt" the mention of Reid's name evoked.

Barrister Kevin Egan, who was caught up in the legal wrangle surrounding Reid's downfall, described him as having "an extraordinary brass neck".

"It doesn't surprise me," Reid said. "What can I say? If that's the view that [Grossman] holds then that's the view that he holds. So be it.

"A lot of people may, quite genuinely, hold that kind of view of me. Others might say we should let bygones be bygones. As for Kevin Egan, I don't know why he's having a go at me."

Despite the collapse of his high-flying legal career - Reid was also convicted of attempting to pervert the course of justice in another Hong Kong case - he remains surprisingly upbeat about the future.

"I'm semi-retired, mate, sitting back and enjoying the sun. The weather's nice, I feel fit and healthy and I'll probably live a lot longer here than I would if I'd have stayed in Hong Kong," he said, with a wry laugh.

"Look mate, I made some huge mistakes and I am incredibly ashamed over what happened. If I could turn back the clock I would have done things very differently.

"I am a million miles removed from that [the Hong Kong] scenario. I was a very senior government servant in a position of power that I admit I abused.

"I am using my skills to assist people because the legal aid system lets them down."

He said he was averaging one case a month with ReidLegal, the legal advocacy outfit. "It is partly a hobby. I will never get rich out of it," he said.

Reid said he fell into the employment work by accident when his ex-wife was made redundant and he took her case to the Employment Relations Authority in August 2011.

"My days of infamy are over, I hope. ReidLegal has got the attention of the press for all the wrong reasons," said Reid.