He tells an appeal that David Yam acted as a 'cynical sleuth' in his forgery findings A lawyer for Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum yesterday told an appeal court that the judge who ruled that Asia's richest woman 'probably' forged her late husband's will had acted more like a 'cynical sleuth' instead of an unbiased adjudicator. Counsel for Ms Wang, Michael Thomas, made the submission as he launched an appeal against Mr Justice David Yam Yee-kwan's ruling that the March 12, 1990, will written by tycoon Teddy Wang Teh-huei was forged. Mr Thomas is asking the Court of Appeal to overturn the decision or to order a retrial. A separate appeal on the costs of the 11-month, 172-day probate case will be heard at the end of the hearing. In deciding on the complaint of forgery filed against Ms Wang by her father-in-law, Wang Din-shin, Mr Justice Yam said the will was forged - and 'probably written by the defendant herself'. Mr Wang had argued he should have inherited his son's Chinachem empire, after a will dated March 15, 1968, named him as sole executor and beneficiary. The 1990 will penned in Chinese left Ms Wang in control of the firm, which she has since built into a $27 billion empire. Teddy Wang was kidnapped on April 10, 1990, and was never seen again. He was declared legally dead on September 22, 1999. In his ruling on November 21, 2002, Mr Justice Yam said suspicious and 'compelling' circumstances led him to conclude forgery - even before he examined the handwriting evidence relating to the 1990 documents. He ruled: 'The only irresistible conclusion that one can draw from all the unanswered or unanswerable, or unexplained or unexplainable questions raised by the evidence is that the 1990 documents are forged. 'In other words, these suspicious circumstances would be themselves sufficient to cast grave doubts on the authenticity of the 1990 documents without any other evidence in handwriting.' Yesterday, Mr Thomas told the court the judge had adopted an 'adversarial stance' towards Ms Wang. He said pre-trial reporting in the Chinese press appeared to be hostile to his client. 'There is some concern that the judge was in some way affected by the perceived opinion that she had somehow been cast publicly in the role of a baddie,' he said. Mr Thomas added: '[Mr Justice Yam] had conducted this judgment by piling suspicious circumstances upon suspicious circumstances, burying [Ms Wang's] positive accounts. 'The judge's suspicions make the judge's work seem not of an impartial adjudicator, but as a cynical sleuth.' He said the judge's conclusions that 'suspicions amount to proof of forgery' were wrong. Mr Thomas said the judge's finding that Ms Wang had herself probably forged part of the 1990 will was a 'serious charge'. 'In this case, she loses out and is, in effect, labelled as a forger of that document without any warning,' he said. 'It was simply not open to the judge as a matter of pleadings to reach any conclusion that Nina Wang was the author of Document A. It is not the way that civil justice should be dispensed in Hong Kong.' Mr Thomas also argued Mr Justice Yam was wrong to split the issues of the probate case into two sections - suspicious circumstances and the handwriting evidence from the panel of experts. The appeal continues today.