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Obituaries

Top Hong Kong lawyers and judges gather to pay final respects to high-profile criminal barrister Kevin Egan

Many of the Australian’s former court adversaries and allies alike attended funeral mass in St Joseph’s Church on Thursday

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 July, 2018, 7:17pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 July, 2018, 10:49pm

Hong Kong’s legal eagles gathered on Thursday, not in court but in a historic Catholic church to bid farewell to leading criminal barrister Kevin Egan, who died at the age of 71 last month.

Among some 300 people who attended the funeral mass in St Joseph's Church were some of his past adversaries in the courtroom, including two former directors of public prosecution Grenville Cross and Kevin Zervos.

“We had a lot of cases against each others and he was a fine opponent – I have wonderful memories of him” said Zervos, who had argued across the bench from Egan before being appointed as a High Court judge.

“He fought his cases with conviction and commitment … he always played fair.”

Other high-ranking legal heavyweights in attendence included former vice-president of the Court of Appeal Michael Lunn, former High Court judge and DPP Peter Nguyen, Bar Association chairpersons Martin Lee Chu-ming SC, Gladys Li SC, Paul Shieh Wing-tai SC, current chairman Philip Dykes SC, and Senior Counsel Lawrence Lok Ying-kam, John Reading SC and Clive Grossman SC.

Egan died of oesophageal cancer on June 18, but had still been attending trials as usual just days before. His court wig was placed on top of the casket as friends and lawyers were seen tearful as the song Oh Danny Boy was played.

The Australian was best known for once being a prosecutor, arguing for anti-graft watchdog the Independent Commission Against Corruption, and also won multiple cases against the ICAC after turning to private practice.

Together with long-time friend and solicitor Andrew Lam Ping-cheung, Egan was dubbed the “ICAC-buster” by local Chinese media.

Lam joined Egan’s son, fellow barrister Martyn Richmond, instructing solicitor Kevin Steele and others as the pallbearers.

Delivering a eulogy, another comrade and solicitor John Massie praised Egan as a “very generous person” who would not turn away those who could not afford legal services.

“There were constant calls from people who wanted unofficial legal advice,” Massie said. He recalled one time Egan was asked to read legal documents while having lunch in the Foreign Correspondents Club.

Egan was active in the sports of shooting and sailing during his younger years, and had represented Hong Kong’s shooting team both as a shooter and team manager at the Commonwealth Games.

Massie revealed how his heavily-built friend, whom he had shared flat with for 10 years, once earned the nickname of “slim” for his active participation in sports.

While former justice Michael Lunn conceded Egan was a controversial figure, he said he would be remembered for his sense of humour.

Senior Counsel Peter Duncan SC commended Egan as a formidable former colleague, although “with a few rough edges”. But Duncan said Egan had “lived his life to the fullest” and would have had no regrets at all.