Lai keeps counsel in appeal win

British barrister Timothy Owen KC is set to defend Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, founder of the now-defunct Apple Daily for his national security case next month as the high court yesterday rejected an appeal by the prosecution.

In a written judgment yesterday, court of appeal vice presidents Susan Kwan Shuk-hing, and Carlye Chu Fun-ling and appeal judge Thomas Au Hing-cheung said the trial is of great general public importance that would "impact substantially the development of national security law jurisprudence and sedition offenses."

"Public perception of fairness in the trial is of vital importance to the administration of justice. The court must adopt a flexible and sensible approach to arrive at a decision that would best suit the public interest," they said. "It is clearly in the public interest to grant the application for admission on grounds of public perception as well as the other grounds that have been canvassed."

The appeal was lodged after high court chief judge Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor ruled in October Owen can act as Lai's lawyer due to the unavailability of barristers and the case's complexity.