A High Court judge has granted permission for the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) to be included in the trial regarding an injunction against leaking of the proceedings of a University of Hong Kong council meeting.
However, Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon rejected applications from Apple Daily and Marcus Lau Yee-ching, editor of Undergrad, the students’ newsletter of the Hong Kong University Students’ Union.
Lam said the injunction is not directed against the applicants, as they do not have any privileged information to make public, so there are insufficient grounds for them to be included in the trial, as they are no different than any other members of the public.
However, he allowed the HKJA to be included, as the freedom of speech and press is involved, and the organization is well-versed in these subjects.
Lam ordered that the injunction will continue to be in effect at least until after the trial, so as to protect the confidential information from the meeting, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.
The judge said even if HKU loses the case in the end, it will not prevent but only delay the anonymous whistle-blower from leaking the contents of the meeting.
HKJA chairwoman Sham Yee-lan said the role played by the HKJA will become all the more important, as it is the only party other than HKU allowed to take part in the litigation.
Sham said she is disappointed by the judge’s decision to extend the injunction and reiterated the HKJA’s demand for it to be rescinded.
Apple Daily chief editor Chan Pui-man said the newspaper will decide on its next steps after studying the ruling.
Lau said he would have to reluctantly accept the court’s order and is not inclined to file an appeal, now that the HKJA will also be heard at the trial.
He said he believes the content of the HKU council meeting will continue to be released on overseas websites.
Meanwhile, local media will be prohibited from publishing the contents of the confidential council discussion.
HKU sought the injunction after recordings of remarks by two HKU council members at the meeting were broadcast by Commercial Radio Hong Kong in October.
After the injunction was granted, further leaks were made on a popular website in Taiwan.
At the closed-door meeting, the council rejected the candidacy of former HKU law dean Johannes Chan Man-mun as a pro vice chancellor.
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