CLAIMS that a planned transfer of 100 'screened-out' Vietnamese boat people has been postponed for fear the operation would clash with the visit of British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd this week, were strongly denied by the Government last night. Earlier, sources said the group would have been taken from the High Island Detention Centre as part of an 'orderly repatriation' programme under new guidelines recommended by an independent board of inquiry in June. The body had been set up on the Governor's orders to investigate the 'excessive' use of tear-gas during the combined police and Correctional Services Department operation at the Whitehead camp on April 7. Last night, the Deputy Secretary for Security, Ken Woodhouse, denied that any operation had been planned. 'It is absolutely not true,' he said. But according to one source, the operation, arranged at a meeting held by Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang when she was Acting Governor, was only called off last week when officials realised the potential for a protest that could embarrass Mr Hurd on his visit. The operation would have been the first of its kind since the Whitehead raid. The source said the Government wanted to avoid a situation like the one in July 1989, when the then Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, faced a series of mass protests following his arrival at Kai Tak airport. Most of the demonstrations were about 'saving Hong Kong', but protesters also called for a solution to the Vietnamese problem. The source said the Government wanted a guarantee that the planned operation would be 'incident free'. Mr Hurd is due to arrive in Hong Kong on Thursday and leave on Friday, the day the transfer was originally scheduled. The source said as part of a new 'low-level' approach following the Whitehead inquiry, the Vietnamese were to be informed well in advance of the transfer. A voluntary helper who works in the camps said this coincided with daily tannoy announcements at High Island in the past few weeks, telling screened-out Vietnamese to volunteer to return home. The camp worker said the broadcasts were made at the North Camp, which holds 1,388 people and where all of the failed asylum-seekers taken out of Whitehead by force in April were placed. 'The deadline was noon on September 2,' said the camp source. 'If they hadn't volunteered by then, they would be liable for forced repatriation.' The camp worker said the Government had earlier said it wanted to increase the number sent back to Vietnam from 50 to 100. It is not known whether any of the group identified for the planned orderly repatriation were those transferred from Whitehead, which has a population of 12,854. On Friday, screened-out asylum seekers in the North Camp posted large banners, chanted protests and marched around the perimeter in a 90-minute show of solidarity against what they said was a government push for their early repatriation. The last orderly repatriation flight was on March 8, when 54 people were sent back. It is understood the Government is keen to start the programme again. The last voluntary repatriation flight was on August 30, when 136 screened-out Vietnamese flew home.