The jailed former cleric will try to clear his name in the highest court The first priest to be convicted of sexually abusing an altar boy in the city was given the go-ahead yesterday to try to clear his name in Hong Kong's highest court. The Court of Final Appeal yesterday granted leave for Michael Lau Ka-yee, 43, to appeal against his convictions for two counts of indecent assault, one of gross indecency and another of attempted serious sexual assault over incidents that happened in 1992 at Lau's quarters at St Joseph's Catholic Church and Anglo Chinese Primary School in Ngau Tau Kok. District Court Judge Maggie Poon Man-kay jailed him for 41/2 years following his trial in February last year. He is serving that sentence. The move to the Court of Final Appeal followed a failed attempt to clear his name before the Court of Appeal last April. The Court of Appeal dismissed his bid saying the sexual assault conviction was upheld on the basis of evidence that he had apologised to his victim. Yesterday, Lau's defence counsel, Peter Duncan SC, told the Court of Final Appeal the conviction on the supposed admission was not proved to be unambiguous and unequivocal. The courts have heard a meeting was organised by Father Chiu Bit-shing after a newspaper contacted Lau telling him it was printing the allegations of sexual abuse after speaking to his victim. At the meeting attended by the victim, Lau and Father Chiu, Lau tearfully asked for forgiveness for hurting the victim. But Mr Duncan yesterday said the meeting's purpose was to 'take the sting' out of the likelihood of the article being published. 'What the applicant said was not a concession to the allegations but to pacify the complainant.' Prosecutor Daryl Saw SC struck back, saying the evidence as a whole eliminated any 'sense of unease' over the conviction. 'Within days of the article [Lau] was removed and within three months he was asked to leave the church,' he said. 'Removing him from the church was evidence of guilt.' But Mr Justice Patrick Chan Siu-oi, Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary and Mr Justice Roberto Ribeiro agreed with Mr Duncan and allowed him to push through with the appeal.