A High Court judge yesterday refused to permanently halt the trial of the former chairman of the Allied Group involved in a decade-old fraud case, saying there had been no undue delay in bringing the prosecution. Judge Robert Tang Ching, in the Court of First Instance, ruled there was no breach of Article 11 (2) (c) of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights, which guarantees the right of those charged with a criminal offence to be 'tried without undue delay'. It was the third time the courts have heard Lee Ming-tee's application for a permanent stay of proceedings. Lee will now stand trial in October. Lee has twice succeeded in obtaining an order for a stay of proceedings - before Mr Justice Pang Kin-kee in July 2000 and Mr Justice Conrad Seagroatt in December 2002. Both were later overturned by the Court of Final Appeal. Lee has denied two charges of conspiracy to defraud and four charges of publishing a false statement of account in relation to events between 1990 and 1992. His co-accused, Ronald Tse Chu-fai, the company's former finance director, pleaded guilty last December to one count of publishing a false statement and was given a suspended sentence. Another five charges against him remain on file but will not be pursued unless there is a further court order. Mr Justice Tang ruled that there had been no delay by the prosecution or the administrative or judicial authorities in Lee's case. He found it was not unreasonable for the trial to be set down on October 26, 14 months after the Court of Final Appeal overturned Mr Justice Seagroatt's order for a stay. 'The waiting time is a target that the judiciary tries to achieve and must vary according to the circumstances. This is a complex commercial fraud trial,' the judge said. There were more than 200 prosecution witnesses, whose statements are in about 30 large folders. Mr Justice Tang added that had Lee not made the second application for stay, he would have been tried in November 2002. Counsel for Lee, Jonathan Caplan, QC, said the prosecution had turned into a persecution and should be thrown out of court.