The Bar Association says the move not to charge Antony Leung is a triumph for transparency and sound legal reasoning Lawyers groups have welcomed the decision not to press charges against former financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung, saying it heralds a new era in transparency and openness by the Department of Justice. Hong Kong Bar Association chairman Edward Chan SC described the decision not to prosecute Mr Leung as one grounded in sound legal reasoning. 'No prosecution should be carried out if there is insufficient evidence, regardless of the political implications,' he said. Mr Chan also praised the department for its openness and transparency during the consultative process. 'This is a big achievement for its transparency and reasoning,' he said. Mr Chan compared the government's handling of Mr Leung's case with the case of Sally Aw Sian. In 1998, Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie disclosed Ms Aw was not prosecuted as a co-conspirator in the Hongkong Standard circulation fraud case partly because it might have put her newspaper group out of business. Mr Chan said the decision not to prosecute Ms Aw on the basis that people would lose their jobs was not good enough. 'But this time the department has taken into account relevant considerations - and the most important reason is the strength of evidence,' he said. Ronnie Tong Ka-wah SC also commended the decision of Director of Public Prosecutions Grenville Cross to seek independent legal advice - something he had lobbied for in vain in Ms Aw's case when he was Bar Association chairman. Mr Tong said he respected the decision despite the fact he did not agree with some of the legal points, such as the view that 'as the act of purchasing the car could not be shown to be criminal, the character of that purchase was not affected by the subsequent failure to disclose it to the Executive Council'. Mr Tong said the subsequent behaviour of Mr Leung could have revealed whether he had any criminal intent, but he added that it would be difficult for him to argue against the department's conclusion without examining all the relevant information. Law Society chairman for Criminal Law and Procedure, Andrew Lam Ping-cheung, said Miss Leung was correct in exercising her prerogative and not push ahead with a case against Mr Leung. Mr Lam also praised the Department of Justice's decision to publicise the advice given by the two barristers they consulted - John Griffiths SC and Martin Wilson QC. 'This is unprecedented,' he said. 'Usually when you ask them to review what advice they received from individuals they consulted, they say no.' He also said the evidence necessary to 'jump over the hurdle' and support a criminal prosecution was absent. 'The evidence indicates that [Mr Leung] purchased the car openly in his name and parked it in the government premises and by no way can we say that he intended to hide and conceal the ownership,' Mr Lam said, adding Mr Wilson noted in his report the lack of criminal motivation. 'If you have got an independent expert who gives that sort of comment what would you do if you were the DPP or the secretary for justice? You would follow it,' he said. 'If you go the contrary route [and prosecute], the public may not welcome it.' Mr Lam also said Hong Kong people did not want a society where prosecutions were easily brought. 'In some countries, unnecessary prosecutions are a weapon against the opposition,' he said, pointing to Singapore and Malaysia as examples.