Journalist loses bid to throw out injunction case over 'lonely tai tai' documentary

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 January, 2014, 6:31pm
UPDATED : Monday, 06 January, 2014, 7:25pm

The journalist who posted a YouTube documentary featuring the life of a rich housewife -- who flaunts her wardrobe and then tearfully admits her businessman husband is too busy for her -- has lost her bid to have the courts strike out an injunction lawsuit filed by the couple.

On Monday, High Court Master Katina Levy Law Suet-mui dropped Lorea Solabarrieta’s application to dismiss the lawsuit without trial.

Levy also disagreed with the defendant’s contention that businessman David Chor Ki-kwong had handled the case "oppressively". He has filed a slew of motions against her, which Solabarrieta described as a form of bullying.

As a project for her master’s degree in journalism in 2010, Solabarrieta, who used to work for TVB and CCTV, posted a 12-minute feature called The Life of a Hong Kong Tai Tai, starring David's wife Gloria. It was viewed more than 89,000 times before it was taken down last year.

I feel that I’m stuck in the middle of an issue between the husband and wife. I find that I am being used as a scapegoat
Lorea Solabarrieta

David Chor, in his 60s, had demanded that Solabarrieta, the daughter of a high school classmate, remove the video after he felt embarrassed by his wife’s tearful confessions, and scenes in which she showed off her Hermés and Gucci handbags.

The businessman accused Solabarrieta of acting in breach of confidence, and won an interim injunction against the journalist.

A case management conference for the injunction case will be heard in March. The trial will be held at a later date.

In October last year, the High Court ordered Solabarrieta to take down the video. But when she reportedly refused to meet the deadline, Chor requested that Solabarrieta be found in contempt of court and jailed.

In the video, Gloria, in tears, said to the camera: “[My husband] doesn’t have much time for me. He promised me that when our son left for school, he would spend more time with me. But I don’t feel he has done this.”

“If I could change my lifestyle, I would tell myself to be more independent,” she added.

The journalist said on Monday that Chor’s accusations were scandalous and vexatious, taking up so much of her time and energy that she found it difficult to find a job.

Solabarrieta also told the court she now had to represent herself, without the assistance of a lawyer.

She also accused the couple of abusing the court process by lodging various court actions against her to force her to back down and hand over the video’s copyright without compensation.

Apart from the injunction and contempt of court cases, the couple threatened to file a bankruptcy petition against Solabarrieta for failing to pay court costs from the interim injunction case she lost, Solabarrieta said. She said she did not pay as the costs were “severely inflated”.

Sobbing, Solabarrieta said she felt like an underdog. “I feel that I’m stuck in the middle of an issue between the husband and wife. I find that I am being used as a scapegoat,” she said.

“If any person owed a duty of confidence to her husband, it’s not me, it’s her. I refuse to apologise for something I have the right to publish.

“If it’s not a form of high-level bullying, I have no way of defining this,” she said.

However, court master Levy pointed out that the obligation to pay the costs was ordered by the court. She ordered Solabarrieta to pay the legal costs of her unsuccessful application.