Legislators alleged a cover-up yesterday over the reasons for the sudden resignation of immigration chief Laurence Leung Ming-yin. A Legislative Council panel decided to seek legal advice on whether to hold a public inquiry after the Secretary for Civil Service Lam Woon-kwong refused to supply more details during an hour's grilling. Should it hold an inquiry, the council would have the power to order all relevant bodies to appear before it. The Government was prepared to 'pay a price' to maintain the privacy of officials at the expense of criticism of its credibility and transparency, a source said. Governor Chris Patten apparently approved the stance before he left for London last Friday. He returns on Monday. The source explained there would be jitters within the whole civil service if the Government failed to protect private information. Another said that details of the issue which were not disclosed to the public would not be disclosed to the Chinese Government either. Mr Lam declined to confirm or deny whether Mr Leung's early retirement was prompted by directions from the top echelon of the Government. He told a meeting of the public service panel that Mr Leung had the right to retire because he had reached retirement age, and that the Government could not stop him. He said Mr Leung wanted to retire, and demanded that the 12-month notice rule be waived for personal reasons. Mr Leung said he had retired for health reasons. 'The administration has neither denied nor confirmed whether they suggested Mr Leung should retire,' Cheung Man-kwong from the Democratic Party said. He added that the Government's credibility had been impaired by its failure to give an explanation. 'If the reason related to the integrity of Mr Leung, or mistakes made by him, the Government should not use the label of 'personal reasons' to cover up,' the Liberal Party's Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee said. Meanwhile, Mr Lam said yesterday that he had informed Xinhua (the New China News Agency) last Saturday before the announcement of Mr Leung's retirement as a courtesy, because his post was one of the principal offices covered by the Basic Law. A Xinhua spokesman said Mr Lam informed the agency at 9.30 am that an announcement of Mr Leung's retirement would be made at noon.