World Snooker

Snooker star Stephen Lee to challenge accusation of being employed at time of Hong Kong arrest

British player, a former world No 5, was detained in an immigration raid over teaching in city without a work permit

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 3:35pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 8:17pm

British snooker star Stephen Lee will challenge the accusation he was employed in Hong Kong, after he was charged for teaching without a work permit last week.

Lee, who arrived at Sha Tin Court on Monday morning for a second court mention, will stand trial from June 8 to 11.

He pleaded not guilty to one count of breaching conditions of stay in Tuen Mun Court on Saturday.

When magistrate Winnie Lau Yee-wan asked the main issue of the case, Lee’s lawyer replied: “Whether the defendant was employed.”

Lee is accused of working as an instructor at a billiards hall in Jordan. He was arrested last Thursday in an immigration raid at the venue.

Snooker star Stephen Lee charged for teaching without permit at Hong Kong billiards hall

The alleged employment would contravene his conditions of stay in the city. The former world No 5 snooker player arrived in Hong Kong as a visitor three days before the incident.

Lee was released on HK$20,000 (US$2,550) bail and HK$20,000 surety, and is required to surrender his travel documents until the trial in June. He did not respond to media questions after attending the court session.

Two others – local ex-professional player Au Chi-wai, and an employee at the billiards hall – were arrested along with Lee in the raid, but have not been charged. 

Au claimed on Facebook in March that he had just opened the billiards hall. 

Under the Immigration Ordinance, it is illegal for visitors in the city to take up any form of employment, even if no pay is involved. Lee faces up to two years in jail and a fine of HK$50,000 if found guilty of breaching his conditions of stay. 

At Monday’s hearing, his defence lawyer said Lee would challenge the accusation of being employed at the time. He will not dispute the fact he was on the premises. 

Asked by the magistrate if Lee had made contact with one of the witnesses for the prosecution, Lee’s counsel said he “would have to take further instruction”. 

Other witnesses are understood to be immigration officers involved in the case.