Hong Kong’s police watchdog has denied international experts, who were invited to assist its inquiry into the force’s handling of anti-government protests , the right to comment on the review before its publication. Anthony Neoh, the chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC), on Tuesday announced his decision, confirming the Post ’s report that the body had snubbed the request from the five-member panel to go through the study, which triggered the group’s abrupt departure . “It’s a fact-finding report. Nobody comments on a fact-finding report, because facts are facts. Facts should speak for themselves,” Neoh said. “Everybody is welcome [to comment], after the report is published.” The police watchdog is reviewing the force’s handling of anti-government protests on June 9, June 12, July 1, August 1, and August 31, which involved major confrontations in and around the legislature, a citywide strike and clashes at Prince Edward MTR station. The review also covers the attack on passengers and protesters by white-clad men at Yuen Long MTR station on July 21. The panel, comprising policing experts from Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand, earlier dropped a bombshell by declaring to “ stand aside ” from the review. They said their “dialogue with the IPCC has not led to any agreed process through which the [panel] would be able to effectively support the Thematic Study [of several key protest dates] any further”. Resignations from IPCC’s protests review reveal system flaws, academics say The Post later reported that one reason for the experts to quit was that the watchdog would not allow them to comment on the draft report before its publication. Since the unrest unfolded, the government has relied on the IPCC as the key channel to hold police accountable, while rejecting protesters’ demand for an investigation by an independent committee with statutory powers to call for witnesses and evidence. In September, city’s leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor also floated the idea of an independent review committee to find out the “underlying causes” of the unrest. On Tuesday, Lam’s deputy Matthew Cheung Kin-chung shot down the need to give the review committee subpoena power. “It does not need the power to summon witnesses, because it’s not against any individual, but aimed to go to the bottom and find out the deep-seated cause that led to what happened in the past six months,” Cheung said ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting. The first “interim” fact-finding report from the IPCC, which is to be published in late January or early February, will only focus on the first three incidents of the six being studied. Neoh, however, denied that the IPCC had backtracked from its previous promise, and explained that it simply did not have enough time to go through all six dates at this stage. Nothing independent about Hong Kong police complaints process, say critics He also refused to share his expectation on whether the interim report could pave the way for the government to set up an independent inquiry. Neoh, who earlier spoke for more powers to be given to the police watchdog, on Tuesday made it clear he had no particular view on the matter. “Whether the government or the community wants a change, it’s up to the community – I’m just a small wheel, a very small potato, a small character.” He said that the next key area of work for the IPCC was to go through the 500 reportable complaints against police in handling protests, including 241 cases concerning officers’ alleged misconduct, and 196 cases about neglect of duty. Most of them are being processed by the police’s complaints division.