A High Court judge questioned whether the government was afraid that he would rule against it in a judicial review on human trafficking when it asked him to withdraw from the case. Mr Justice Kevin Zervos was commenting in court today on a request made by the Justice Department last week for him to recuse himself from the case. He noted that the government had accused him of having potential bias as he had expressed his view that a fundamental change was needed to combat human trafficking in Hong Kong. READ MORE: Hong Kong judge told to step down from human trafficking case over possible bias However, he said he found the government had failed to show any evidence to show that he had “actual bias”. He said it relied on a news report about a speech he made when he was still director of public prosecutions in the Department of Justice in 2013. “I find the [Department of Justice] is more concerned about me making a decision against them,” Zervos said. Barrister Stewart Wong Kai-ming SC, for the government, said the judicial review was about an applicant challenging the adequacy of the current legal system in protecting victims of human trafficking. He said the core issue was not the judge’s view on the issue but what he thought of the system. “We found that the judge has expressed a firm view that the system is not good enough,” Wong said. “A fair-minded observer would find that [Zervos] would cause a real possibility of subconscious and unconscious bias in the case.” The judge replied that he had taken a position on human trafficking, but asked whether this was a bias. I find the [Department of Justice] is more concerned about me making a decision against them Judge Kevin Zervos He said he expressed his views during a forum when he was working with the Justice Department. The Secretary for Justice was also present, he added. He said the department should know well what he was talking about at the time. Barrister Philip Dkyes SC, representing the judicial review applicant, said the news reports clearly showed the judge, as a former director of public prosecution, was looking for improvements in the existing system under which cases of human trafficking or exploitation are dealt with. For example, the more effective use of resources, special training, and fresh prosecution guidelines on the subject. Arguing that there was no need to change the judge, Dykes added it was the court’s obligation and the judiciary’s duty to protect the vulnerable. Zervos also said High Court judge Thomas Au Hing-cheung had granted leave to the applicant to pursue the case in June, and he was later assigned to be the trial judge. He therefore wondered why the government did not ask to change the judge until last week. Wong noted that the applicant was complaining about three departments – the police, the Immigration Department and the Labour Department – and the Department of Justice did not receive the full facts and legal advice until September. The judge said he had to deal with the request for him to step down with great care and make sure it was not unnecessary or political in nature. Otherwise, he said, it would affect the administration of justice and create a lot of problems. He said he would hand down his decision on whether he would step down on November 13. The judicial review centres on a man who claimed he was taken to Hong Kong from another country to undertake forced labour. He sought help from different departments but none was willing to conduct an investigation. He therefore alleged that the city did not have a good enough system to protect victims like him. His case has been fixed for January next year.