Police were, in effect, given 'the keys to the filing cabinet' of a government-appointed inspector conducting a probe into the Allied Group property empire, a judge heard yesterday. Jonathan Caplan QC, defending the group's former chairman, Lee Ming Tee, 58, said the move had disastrous consequences. He argued it was unlawful for the inspector to pass on material to the police during the inquiry in 1992 and 1993. Lee and Ronald Tse Chu-fai, 47, former finance director of the Allied Group, are seeking to have criminal proceedings against them halted, claiming the Government made illicit use of the inspector's findings. 'To permit the police to have the keys to the inspector's filing cabinet and to examine all of the material he was acquiring . . . so they could take it and use it for the purpose of a criminal investigation was an abuse of power,' Mr Caplan said. 'There was no statutory gateway for the inspector to pass on the information to third parties and what happened simply should never have occurred and the consequences are disastrous.' Mr Caplan said the inspector, accountant Nicholas Allen, had received conflicting legal advice on whether he was permitted to hand over information he uncovered to anyone other than the Financial Secretary. Steps should have been taken to prevent any leakage of material obtained by the inspector, who was able to use special powers not available to the police, he said. 'Instead . . . the police and prosecution were invited into the heart of the inspection and invited to attend steering group meetings.' The steering group had been set up to ensure the $46 million inquiry was conducted efficiently, the court heard. 'No longer was this a small, cost-effective administrative watchdog,' Mr Caplan said. It had become 'open house' to the prosecution and the police. The police investigation was deliberately not made public until after the inspector had compiled a draft report and reaction to it had been obtained from those under inquiry, the court heard. 'There was a planned link between a massive police raid and a very public press conference at which this report was uniquely published for the first time, we say, in the history of Hong Kong and contrary to legal precedent,' said Mr Caplan. He argued that publication of the report made a fair trial impossible. Lee and Tse both deny conspiracy to defraud relating to share transactions in the early 1990s. Their application for the proceedings to be stayed will continue today before Mr Justice Pang Kin-kee in the Court of First Instance.