Regina Ip sued for defamation by Hong Kong columnist over her remarks involving Link Reit

Ip described former trust researcher as a middleman delivering a threat against her political party

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 December, 2017, 9:31pm
UPDATED : Monday, 11 December, 2017, 10:40pm

The chairwoman of the pro-Beijing New People’s Party is being sued for defamation by a Hong Kong columnist whom she described as a middleman delivering a threat on behalf of Asia’s largest real estate investment trust.

Simon Lee Chao-fu, an economics columnist and previously a researcher for the trust Link Reit, said he filed a case at the High Court on Monday, accusing Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, a former candidate for city leader, of making defamatory comments against him.

According to the writ, Lee sought an injunction against Ip making any false allegations. He also requested an apology and compensation for harm done, but no monetary amount was specified.

Link Reit shopping centre sell-off prompts widespread concern from Hong Kong public

The row came to light last Wednesday when Ip, a member of the Executive Council – a top advisory body to the city’s chief executive – said she had received a message from Link Reit that district councillors belonging to her New People’s Party could lose offices located in properties owned by the trust if she continued to make disparaging remarks about its business practices.

Ip said the threat was relayed to her by the party’s policy director, Derek Yuen Mi-chang, who heard it from Lee.

While Link Reit denied the accusation, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said last week police had already followed up on the case.

In the writ, Lee stated Ip had made “malicious publication” involving “defamatory and false words” about him in public speeches. The speeches in question were made in the presence of the media at the Legislative Council last Wednesday and Thursday.

There is a need to settle the issue through legal means
Simon Lee, columnist

“I believe the law is fair,” Lee said on Monday. “Throughout the whole incident, I didn’t say those words [suggested by Ip]. I think there is a need to settle the issue through legal means.”

The columnist said he had not spoken to Ip directly nor communicated a threatening message to her through a third party. He told the Post last week that he only offered to help the district councillors get their concerns about Link Reit across to the company’s management.

“This issue has brought me psychological distress and damaged my reputation,” he said on Monday.

In response, Ip said she was not worried about Lee’s legal actions.

“What I have said was true,” she said. “Why do I have to apologise to him ... and rescind my comments if what I said was true?”

Ip said she could take legal action to defend herself.