The previous owner and occupier of Leung Chun-ying's property on The Peak gave a firm hint yesterday that a newspaper report was correct in claiming that the chief executive-elect had built an illegal trellis after he moved in.
The Chief Executive-Elect's Office had said earlier that the trellis existed beforehand, and Leung said he replaced it with a glass canopy when he found the wood had rotted.
Lau Yiu-chu, who is in his 80s and whose company, Housing Development, sold the Peel Rise property to Leung in 2000, did confirm that a 240 sq ft basement, which the Buildings Department says is illegal, was in place when he sold the home.
He was then pressed on the other five structures one by one in a telephone interview with Commercial Radio. On the trellis, he said: 'If I told you it did [exist when I sold it], I would be telling a lie, so I won't say so.
'But if I said it didn't, it would do harm to someone, so I won't say that either.'
He was referring to official aerial pictures published by Ming Pao Daily this week, which the newspaper said showed that the trellis did not exist a month before Leung bought the house in 1999.
On a car park cover, Lau said he did use a cover of some sort but couldn't remember exactly what.
Separately, the Legislative Council's House Committee has invited Leung to a 90-minute question-and-answer session before the end of the legislative term on July 18. Leung did not respond to the request yesterday.
The incoming leader's integrity has been under attack since the illegal structures were found at his luxury home following media reports and inspections by the Buildings Department earlier this month.
Democratic Party lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong said the invitation was reasonable, as a chief executive should be accountable to the public and should clear any doubts people may have.
The League of Social Democrats, which has complained to the Independent Commission Against Corruption about Leung's conduct during his election campaign, said the graft-buster had started an inquiry.
Vice-chairman Avery Ng Man-yuen said he gave a statement to the commission on Thursday. The party told the ICAC it suspects Leung misled the Electoral Affairs Commission by lying about the illegal structures during the campaign.
An online petition organised by 12 academics and professionals has garnered 839 signatures in three days. The organisers want work on the basement to stop immediately and for Leung to make public all related documents. Some of his critics accuse Leung of pulling down the structures to destroy evidence.