Aggrieved ex-officers show faces

FORMER Special Branch officers, campaigning against their exclusion from a compensation scheme, went public for the first time yesterday and allowed themselves to be photographed.

But they refused to give their names when they asked the Bar Association to examine whether new Solicitor-General Daniel Fung QC was involved in a conflict of interests.

One of their representatives said Mr Fung had represented them between May 1992 and June this year in their challenge to the Government's decision to exclude them from a compensation scheme for Special Branch officers.

'The case ended in June, but Mr Fung - appointed as Solicitor-General in May - never told us verbally or in writing that he would join the Government,' the officer said.

'He should have informed us of the appointment. He should have told us the pros and cons, so we could decide whether we wanted to continue with the case. He told newspapers recently he had informed us, but he did not.

'We suspect there is a conflict of interest so we are complaining to the Bar Association which is an authoritative organisation. We think we would receive a fair answer,' the spokesman said.

The officer said if the Bar found there was conflict of interest, they would appeal against the court's ruling which disallowed leave for a judicial review.

A Legal Department spokesman said Mr Fung hoped the Bar would deal with the case as soon as possible and announce its findings.

The spokesman said Attorney-General Jeremy Mathews had full confidence in Mr Fung's integrity.

The $600 million compensation scheme provides passports and money for officers to migrate to Britain because of fears they would be discriminated against after 1997 because of their work.

The 16 officers excluded from the scheme were from the police vetting section.

The former Special Branch officers were accompanied by sacked Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) deputy director of operations, Alex Tsui Ka-kit.

Mr Tsui said the officers approached him two months ago, complaining about unfair treatment by the Government.

'I am trying to help them,' said Mr Tsui, who is planning to sue the ICAC for $20 million compensation for sacking him illegally.

Administrator of the Bar Association, Margaret Lam, said the officers' appeal would be considered by their special committee on discipline.

Mrs Lam said a meeting would have to be arranged between the committee and the former Special Branch officers since they had only submitted a short letter without giving details.

Based on the advice of the committee, the Bar Council would decide whether there was a prima facie case. If so, the Bar Council would refer the case to the Barrister's Disciplinary Tribunal.