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Legislative Council of Hong Kong

Court writ hits ousted Hong Kong legislator ‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung with demand for HK$2.98 million in salary, expenses

Firebrand politician had ignored earlier compromise to return part of the sum

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 July, 2018, 2:46pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 July, 2018, 10:36pm

Hong Kong’s legislature has filed a writ at the High Court to recover at least HK$2.98 million (US$380,000) in expenses and salaries paid to ousted lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, after he ignored a compromise under which he was supposed to return part of the sum.

But solicitor Vitus Leung Wing-hang said lawyers representing the ex-lawmaker could ask the court to postpone the case until a decision was made on an appeal the maverick politician had launched against his disqualification from the Legislative Council.

The Legco Commission, which is responsible for the legislature’s administration, decided in May to take action against the ex-lawmaker to recover his salary, wages paid to his staff and prepaid expenses for eight months.

In a writ submitted on Friday, the commission’s lawyers argued he was “liable to make restitution to the commission” to the sum of about HK$2.98 million, after he was stripped of his seat in the chamber by the High Court in July last year over an improper oath of office.

The figure includes HK$1.52 million in operating expenses, about HK$857,000 in salary, about HK$373,000 in advances for office operations and other costs, and HK$234,000 in interest, which is increasing by the day.

The court was expected to set a date to hear arguments from the two sides if he did not pay up within 14 days.

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Asked what choices the ex-legislator had, solicitor Leung said he could ask the court to postpone the case until the High Court’s upper body, the Court of Appeal, heard his appeal against disqualification.

“If he wins his appeal, Legco’s application will be rejected,” the lawyer said.

And in the event of a loss, his lawyers could still argue the money should not be repaid, at least in part.

However, if the firebrand politician failed to eventually hand over any sum finally decided on by the court, it was possible Legco could ask authorities to declare him bankrupt, the solicitor added.

Leung Kwok-hung, Lau Siu-lai, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Edward Yiu Chung-yim were unseated last year following a ruling by Beijing that they had taken their oaths of office improperly.

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Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen previously suggested the four pro-democracy politicians would need to pay back their salaries in full. But in April he floated a deal stipulating they would not need to pay in entirety if they agreed to return a smaller amount in prepaid operating funds or expenses, as well as items such as laptop computers.

Lau, Law and Yiu accepted the deal, but Leung Kwok-hung ignored it.

In May, he said the commission’s decision to take legal action had left him in shock. He argued he should not be required to return the money as his appeal against the court decision to disqualify him was pending.

“I have yet to complete my appeal, so why am I being chased for the money?” he asked at the time.

On Monday, Leung said he would not comment on the case until Tuesday.