There is no need for the Government to call an independent inquiry into the controversy over alleged interference in opinion polls, the Executive Council's convenor said yesterday. Leung Chun-ying said the independence and autonomy of the University of Hong Kong should be upheld in handling the row that erupted after Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu alleged Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa had interfered with polls on his popularity and the Government's credibility. Mr Leung, a top adviser to Mr Tung, was speaking after university council chairman Yang Ti Liang announced on Tuesday the formation of a three-member panel headed by Mr Justice Noel Power, a non-permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal and former acting chief justice, to look into the allegations. The other two members are barrister Ronny Wong Fook-hum SC, a former Bar Association chairman, and Pamela Chan Wong Shui, chief executive of the Consumer Council. Mr Yang has admitted the inquiry has limited authority in that it can only call members of the university. Speaking after the China Economic Seminar 2000, Mr Leung said matters within a university, particularly academic ones, should best be handled by the university itself. 'Universities in Hong Kong have long been autonomous and independent. If I were a member of the Hong Kong University, I would not be sure whether [I would like] to hand over the 100-year tradition of institutional autonomy [to outsiders],' he said. Mr Leung urged people to have trust in the independence and high reputation of the three panel members. He was confident the investigation would help people understand more about the matter. Mr Leung said the fact that Mr Justice Power did not understand Chinese was not 'an insurmountable barrier in this bilingual city'. In an interview with Cable TV last night, the judge said he was happy to chair the inquiry. Now living in Queensland, Australia, he said he would arrive in Hong Kong for the inquiry within 10 days. Mrs Chan, after returning from a trip to Britain, said at the airport: 'The matter has caused a big row and many are concerned about it. I hope we will find out what happened at the end of the day. I'm an independent person and I'm not a graduate of Hong Kong University.' Last night, the Hong Kong University Students Union repeated its call for Mr Tung to ask former legislators to reassemble for an emergency Legislative Council session to appoint a committee to investigate the polls affair. The union called on the commission of inquiry to open its hearings to the public and to try to call people from outside the university for testimony. Dr Chung, head of the Public Opinion Programme at the university's Journalism and Media Studies Centre, said Mr Tung told him via a third party that he wanted an end to opinion polls on his popularity and the Government's credibility. Dr Chung later named the third party as the university's vice-chancellor Professor Cheng Yiu-chung. Mr Tung and Professor Cheng have denied the allegations. It was subsequently revealed that an aide to Mr Tung, Andrew Lo Cheung-on, had discussed Dr Chung's opinion polls with Professor Cheng.