The senior assistant solicitor general yesterday became the highest ranking civil servant to take legal action over the controversial pay cuts affecting 180,000 government officers. In a 42-page High Court writ, Michael Scott said the Public Officers Pay Adjustment Ordinance was inconsistent with nine Basic Law articles and constituted an abuse of power. He is seeking a judicial review to have the ordinance declared unconstitutional. Describing himself in the writ as 'a public officer appointed before 1 July 1997', Mr Scott, who heads the General Advisory Unit in the Department of Justice's Legal Policy Division, said his salary had been reduced from October 1. The government's decision to cut the pay of civil servants by between 1.58 and 4.42 per cent last July led to a street protest by thousands of civil servants. Mr Scott said he had assisted the 'similarly adversely affected' chairmen of four police unions - Junior Police Officers' Association, Local Inspectors' Association, Overseas Inspectors' Association and the Superintendents' Association - in filing their writ on the issue on October 18. To date, four writs have been filed in the High Court as unions and individual civil servants tried reinstate their pre-1997 pay levels. Yesterday's legal action by Mr Scott will pit him against his own department, which will represent the government in any judicial reviews on the issue. In the writ, Mr Scott said the government's failure to honour its constitutionally incorporated representation to previously serving public servants was 'an abuse of power'. He added the government was required by law to take into account the doctrine of legitimate expectation and Basic Law prohibitions against the ordinance and the pay reduction. Mr Scott also said the pay reductions were 'inherently unfair and detrimental' as public servants may have made financial commitments based on salary levels before the October 1 change. 'Furthermore, public servants are under a duty to not allow themselves to get into a position where any debts they may have become unmanageable and a breach can have consequences for their postings, welfare needs or continued employment,' the writ stated. Mr Scott declined to comment on the proceedings yesterday. But in a letter to the South China Morning Post published on April 2, 1999, Mr Scott, writing as vice-president of the Association of Expatriate Civil Servants of Hong Kong, argued the Basic Law guaranteed that serving public officers would retain conditions of service no less favourable than before 1997.