Former attorney-general Michael Thomas has declined a request from the Department of Justice to give legal advice on the ex-finance chief's car purchase scandal, it has been confirmed. Mr Thomas, a Queen's Counsel who was attorney-general in Hong Kong from 1983 to 1988, was approached with instructions on the case from the department, but was unable to accept for 'good professional reasons', he said. Mr Thomas added that being a former attorney-general would represent a conflict of interest. He is based in London but still maintains chambers in Hong Kong and is briefed on cases in the city. His most recent appearance in Hong Kong was last month, when he launched a Court of Final Appeal challenge to the multimillion dollar fraud trial of Lee Ming-tee, the former chairman of Allied Group, on behalf of the Department of Justice. The department yesterday maintained that it was still studying the Independent Commission Against Corruption's (ICAC) report on former financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung's purchase of a car ahead of a hefty vehicle first registration tax rise, announced in his last budget. It continued to decline to comment on whether it would brief out the decision on the prosecution to an independent barrister to prevent conflict of interest. The controversy centres on Mr Leung's purchase of a Lexus just before he introduced increases in first registration tax for vehicles in his budget on March 5. He later described his failure to declare the purchase as an oversight but maintained that the car was needed to transport his baby daughter. It is understood that the Department of Justice will decide whether to charge Mr Leung with misconduct in public office based on the ICAC's file of evidence. Mr Leung resigned as financial secretary last Wednesday.