The Department of Justice must argue its case tomorrow as it seeks a judicial review amid fears of bias The Department of Justice was yesterday rebuffed in its attempt to seek a judicial review of a judge's refusal to step down from the Tuen Mun bus tragedy trial after a prosecutor raised fears of apparent bias. Madam Justice Clare-Marie Beeson, in the Court of First Instance, instead set a hearing for arguments before Mr Justice Michael Hartmann tomorrow. Yesterday's urgent application to seek leave for judicial review came after Deputy District Court Judge Ian Thomas twice refused to disqualify himself from the bus crash trial last week. Truck driver Li Chau-wing has denied a charge of dangerous driving causing death after his vehicle and a double-decker bus collided in July last year, killing 21 people. Senior government counsel Lynda Shine applied for the judge to disqualify himself after it emerged that he privately commented on the case to a justice department prosecutor at a conference last weekend. According to the document filed in court, senior assistant director of public prosecutions Gavin Shiu told Ms Shine on Tuesday that he had a conversation with Deputy Judge Thomas in which the judge said he was dealing with a New Territories bus accident case involving dangerous driving causing death. Deputy Judge Thomas also mentioned that he would probably refuse the defence's late application for live-note stenographers and the judge said words to the effect that 'careless driving was an offence he either 'did not believe in' or thought was of little efficacy', the document said. 'Mr Shiu asked the judge why he thought so. The judge said something about it being an insurance matter,' it said. Defence barrister Andrew Macrae SC supported the application to have the judge step down. On Friday, the prosecution applied to adjourn the trial until tomorrow, hoping to stay proceedings pending the outcome of the judicial review application. 'It is submitted that the judge has engaged in a discussion about and relating to crucial issues in the case, very shortly prior to trial, which would lead a fair-minded and informed observer to conclude that there was a real possibility that he was biased, hence the judge should recuse himself from hearing the case,' the document said. 'It is also plain that there would be a large insurance dimension through civil proceedings as [an] aftermath to the criminal case and the 'insurance matter' is one of the matters mentioned by the deputy judge in the discussion and raised in the context of his opinion expressed about careless driving.' Barrister Kwok Sui-hay, for the government, yesterday said the judge's views had an 'appearance of bias' which would diminish the integrity of the trial. The lawyer submitted that the trial should be halted to avoid a potential waste of judicial time and costs. But after hearing the application, Madam Justice Beeson said the matter should go before the judicial review list to be argued before Mr Justice Hartmann.