• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 11:05am
NewsHong Kong

Ex-TVB presenter Stephen Chan faces a third hearing

Court acquits Stephen Chan Chi-man a second time over bribery claims, but department files a new notice of appeal within hours

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 March, 2013, 5:16am

There seems to be no end in sight to the legal row involving former TVB general manager Stephen Chan Chi-wan, whose second acquittal yesterday was quickly followed by notice of yet another appeal.

Chan, 54, smiled but remained tight-lipped as he left his retrial in District Court at noon after his acquittal. Within an hour or two, the Department of Justice said it would take the case back to the Court of Appeal in a "case stated" procedure.

This means it could be sent back for retrial or the Court of Appeal could substitute its own judgment. So Chan's case could theoretically appear before Chief District Judge Poon Siu-tung a third time. The department said: "We have considered the judge's reasons and do not consider that the judge has correctly addressed the evidence and/or the relevant legal principles."

The original case goes back to 2009, when Chan was paid HK$112,000 to host a New Year's Eve TV special at a Kowloon mall, but did not tell his then-employer, TVB, about the payment. That led to bribery charges against him and his then-assistant Edthancy Tseng Pei-kun. Both were acquitted in District Court by Poon in 2011.

But the Court of Appeal sent the case back to Poon for reconsideration, after deciding he had erred in law in acquitting the pair.

Poon yesterday stood by his original verdict, ruling that Chan had had a "reasonable excuse" for not asking his boss before accepting payment for the show.

In a 45-minute ruling, the judge noted that the TV programme in question - Be My Guest, which Chan had frequently hosted - was a public, not secretive, activity. "From the top to the bottom of TVB, [staff] knew about his performance. TVB wouldn't have naively believed that Chan would do it for free," the judge said.

Poon said he found no reason for Chan to deliberately conceal the payment from Mark Lee Po-on, TVB Group general manager and his supervisor.

Lee's testimony was "contrary to common sense and illogical" when he testified in court that he would have objected to Chan's involvement in the show had he known about it, Poon said.

I do not believe it would be the legislative intent [of 'reasonable excuse'] to criminalise the defendants under such circumstances

This was because Chan's show had a "common interest" with TVB, and Chan never encountered objections from his previous boss when disclosing his outside work, the judge said.

On those occasions, his outside work was accepted informally - with nothing as formal as "approvals", Poon noted. And the payment in question was not especially high, he said.

"I do not believe it would be the legislative intent [of 'reasonable excuse'] to criminalise the defendants under such circumstances," Poon said.

Chan is now a senior executive at Commercial Radio.

Barrister and lawmaker Alan Leong Kah-kit said he found Poon's ruling "surprising", showing that the judge had "turned a blind eye" to the Court of Appeal judgment. "I think it is to many people's surprise that he stood by his judgment."

But Leong said it was more surprising that the Department of Justice was seeking yet another "case-stated" approach instead of a general appeal which would require the Court of Appeal to consider the matter on its own.



Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

It is time to drop this case. The accused has already faced the stressing trauma of two trials and been acquitted on both occasions. The rush by the Department of Justice to enter yet a second appeal against acquittal, stinks of revenge and the lack of respect for the independence of the judiciary. The department's lawyers barely had enough time to read fully and understand the written judgement. The department seems to want the whole business of trials in courts to become a rubber stamping exercise once the law enforcement authorities have decided that a case is answerable and and a prosecution mounted. It is as if, in this case, that the ICAC cannot be seen to be losing a case. Magistrates and judges can no longer even decide on merit what punishments should be awarded and are compelled to follow, with very little leeway, a fixed tariff.
I think all this does, is make the ICAC a giant petty incompetent bully. I think the HK police should do another raid on them. I don't like corruption, but this is really pathetic.
The haste at which the prosecution decided to lodge an appeal smacks of persecution at all costs.
Dai Muff
I have no time at all for Stephen Chan, but trying someone THREE TIMES for the same crime? If we don't have a double jeopardy law we need one. And just WHO is so determined to get him at any cost?
It's always sad to see some beloved person got prosecuted especially for this kind of crime, and even worse to see so many of his supporters cannot stand on neutral ground to make their personal judgements. If the defendent in this case is not this popular "Mr. Chan" but another notorious "Mr. Chan", would they find their reasons to critise ICAC / DoJ for not dropping the case and soft on crime. I know nothing about both Mr. Chan, but if someone in the ICAC or DoJ must have some beef with "this guy", so must the 3 judges in the court of appeal.
This is beginning to look like persecution.
There are just so many "doubts" in passing the judgements, just a few prominent: (a) Does (past) "on objections / no action" by an employer, it's loose management system or a "known practice" confer an employee's right / reason to acquire unauthorised benefit from third party? (b) If "no conflict of interest or common interest" is considered a factor by the judge, should most commercial bribery case be dropped? (c) If $112,000 is insignificant to the defendent in this case, how much is significant? and would it be the same judgement if a cashier cheat an insignificant $112? (d) the defendent may not deliberately conceal the payment, but what's the motive behind the both defendent (Chan / Tseng) to create the agency company to deal with the sponsor's contract? is it also not a deliberate move?
All the doubts have not been convincingly addressed and cleared by the judge, and all the "benefits of doubts" are on the side of the defendents.
I am just an ordinary hk citizen / businessman entirely irrelevant, not meant to be disrespectful to the court but only interested in protecting and supporting ICAC / Dept of Justice efforts in keeping a non-corrupted Hong Kong.
Hopefully he'll be acquitted a third time (or the appeal simply thrown out) and the ICAC will buzz off. They seem to be a huge joke right now with too much time on their hands with this petty case.
I think someone on top in the ICAC or Justice Department must have some beef (in layman term personal vendetta) with this guy. Evidently this has obviously become personal and it makes no sense to waste so much taxpayer money on some small time case such as this. This face-saving mentality in the Chinese culture defeats the purpose of egalitarian in the judicial system.
It's indeed all so personal
the way you perceive the issue
something to do with face and Chinese culture
that's created by your inflated simple-mindedness
like your so-called judicial "purpose of egalitarian" principle
For legal vendetta
you should've referred to the case of Lee MT
whom they chased from ANZ thru SE Asia to HK
Face, the shameless shun
To them, honorable horrors



SCMP.com Account