Male colleague made ‘thrusting’ motions at me, Hong Kong policewoman says in sexual harassment case over tax evasion claim
District councillor calls for review of civil service complaints system after woman says she suffered retaliation for filing report on superiors’ tax evasion bid
Hong Kong police have said they would investigate complaints filed by a female officer, who claimed she was sexually harassed after exposing a tax evasion attempt by superiors.
According to the woman, a male sergeant in her unit had made inappropriate gestures to her, “thrusting his hips back and forth” while leering at her last month.
Police on Sunday acknowledged the complaints and said they would launch an investigation.
The incident came to light after the female officer sought help from Wong Tai Sin district councillor Mandy Tam Heung-man, who spoke to reporters on Sunday.
A woman, thought to be the female officer involved in the case, was also present at the media briefing, but her face was covered and she did not address journalists.
According to Tam, the incident was sparked when the officer “overheard” a conversation between a male colleague and a sergeant in April. The man had failed to pay his taxes and was asked by authorities to provide his financial records for the past year.
“I cannot submit them, can you help me?” the male officer allegedly asked the sergeant.
Tam said the policewoman later found out that the request for the man’s financial records had vanished from the system.
In May, she then filed an official complaint with the Civil Service Bureau about the perceived cover-up. But the bureau referred the application back to her unit, leading to the sergeant in the case learning about the identity of the complainant, Tam said.
On July 18, while discussing work matters, the female officer said the sergeant harassed her by making thrusting movements with his hips while looking at her.
Tam said the female officer had filed a sexual harassment complaint with her supervisor and would be on leave until August 13.
According to the policewoman, the male officer, who allegedly failed to pay taxes, left the force on Friday through an early retirement programme approved by a police superintendent.
Tam, who is a former member of the Equal Opportunities Commission, the city’s equality watchdog, said the act described by the female officer amounted to sexual harassment.
“It makes women feel harassed and offended,” Tam said.
She also slammed the Civil Service Bureau for not protecting the anonymity of complainants.
Tam said she would write to the commissioner of police, the Ombudsman, the equality watchdog and the bureau, urging the relevant bodies to review their complaint systems.
A police source told the Post that an internal investigation of the sexual harassment had not yet commenced. The source also said the force had been looking into the matter concerning the male officer’s tax issues, even before the policewoman had been involved.
The female officer took up her current post 11 years ago, according to the source. She claimed to have a neck injury but was later deemed fit for duty.
In a reply to media inquiries, the force said it had “received the relevant complaints”.
“Police would handle all internal complaints, disciplinary and criminal allegations according to the established mechanism and procedures in a fair and impartial manner,” a spokesman said.
He added the force would not tolerate a breach of conduct or crimes committed by officers.
“Police are taking appropriate actions regarding the relevant colleague’s welfare and would ensure adequate support is provided.”
Additional reporting by Danny Mok