Hong Kong courts

Hong Kong court puts exam leak case against celebrity tutor Kris Lau on hold as legal uncertainty over smartphone charge continues

Case is the latest smartphone-related prosecution left in limbo pending a separate appeal to the city’s top court to clarify offence

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 September, 2018, 5:59pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 September, 2018, 5:59pm

Hong Kong prosecutors on Friday asked a magistrate to adjourn another case against a celebrity tutor allegedly involved in leaking public exam questions, pending a separate appeal to the city’s top court that could change how they prosecute smartphone-related crimes.

Kris Lau Koon-wah, 43, a high-profile tutor, and Seraph Wong Tsz-hin, 19, a student who previously worked as a marking assistant with the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, were originally expected to enter their plea on Friday.

West Kowloon Court heard that Wong allegedly accepted HK$1,000 (US$130) from Lau between April 17 and May 13 last year to disclose confidential information from the English Listening and Integrated Skills paper of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) administered by the exam authority.

They are further accused of using their smartphones to send or receive confidential information on April 21 that year.

The two men each face one count of access to a computer with dishonest intent, under Section 161 of the Crimes Ordinance, and a joint charge of conspiracy for an agent to accept an advantage, under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance.

Leaked exam questions ruling halts upskirting prosecutions

But prosecutors asked to postpone their plea by four months as they wanted to wait for the Court of Final Appeal to clarify the Section 161 offence, which they had relied on – but failed – to prosecute four primary school teachers accused of leaking entrance exam questions.

The request was granted by acting Principal Magistrate Ada Yim Shun-yee, who then adjourned the case to January 11.

At least 15 smartphone-related prosecutions are in limbo since the High Court’s refusal to convict the four teachers last month forced the Department of Justice to review all ongoing cases involving the same Section 161 charge.

Teachers who leaked exam questions did not commit a crime, court rules

Such cases include that of celebrity Chinese tutor Weslie Siao Chi-yung, 42, who was similarly accused of receiving confidential questions for the HKDSE examinations; and police officer Chu Ho-lap, 27, who admitted to taking upskirt images on 311 occasions.

Prosecutors have since appealed to the Court of Final Appeal to review the teachers’ case.

Their application for leave to appeal will be heard by a three-judge panel on November 2.

The presiding judges will include justices Roberto Ribeiro and Joseph Fok.