Hong Kong judge gives go-ahead for judicial review over luggage saga involving CY Leung’s daughter
Lawyer representing flight attendant who filed challenge says incident where Leung Chung-yan’s bag was delivered from non-restricted to closed zone in airport indicates security loophole
A flight attendant has been given the green light to pursue her legal challenge over the handling of a piece of left-behind luggage belonging to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s daughter.
The leader’s daughter, Chung-yan’s bag was delivered directly from a non-restricted to a restricted area of the airport in March last year, so she could board her flight to San Francisco on time. News of the bag’s delivery quickly prompted public outcry over favouritism in the airport’s screening rules.
Gladys Li SC, representing Hong Kong Dragon Airlines flight attendant Law Mei-mei, yesterday argued that the incident indicated that a breach of baggage screening rules had indeed taken place.
“It could be a loophole that terrorists may take advantage of,” she warned.
The case centres on whether the rule of having all cabin baggage screened in the presence of the passenger should be followed to the letter.
The city’s leader has denied he had exerted pressure on airport staff to bypass security rules to deliver the piece of luggage to his younger daughter at the boarding gate.
But some still questioned whose idea it was to deliver the bag in such a way and whether any security protocols were breached.
“All means all,” Li said in court yesterday.
Law filed a judicial review application in June last year seeking to overturn a ruling by the Airport Authority that security was not breached.
But barrister Russell Coleman SC, representing the Airport Authority, argued that the presence of the luggage owner was required only for subsequent inspections – when a piece of luggage that has been left behind raises suspicions.
He said a mandatory search in the presence of the owner would be at the discretion of screeners conducting the initial routine checks.
“It is an error to assume that every piece of luggage must be searched in the presence of its owner,” Coleman said, citing operational rules compiled by the authority.
“But for the identity of its owner, this is a case that should have never begun,” he said, referring to the city’s first family, who have been engulfed in the row for almost a year.
Coleman questioned the grounds for the present case, saying the piece of luggage concerned had been identified by the passenger’s mother – Regina Leung Tong Ching-yee – who happened to be at the airport at the time.
But Mr Justice Anderson Chow Ka-ming found questions remained on how to construe the airport’s baggage screening rules, and allowed the case to proceed to the substantive hearing stage.
Hong Kong Cabin Crew Federation chairwoman Carol Ng Man-yee said the matter involved security issues that should be resolved as soon as possible.
“More than a hundred thousand of passengers use our airport every day,” she said following the hearing.