November 20, 2015 (Hong Kong Free Press) — Asia Television Limited (ATV) and its former executive director James Shing Pan-yu have been ordered to pay Ricky Wong Wai-kay HK$1.3 million in damages by the High Court, following a defamation lawsuit.
In 2012, as Ricky Wong was applying for a free-to-air licence for Hong Kong Television Network Limited (HKTV), Shing accused Wong of stealing confidential documents from ATV during Wong’s 12-day term as CEO in 2008. In statements made to reporters from ATV and i-Cable that were aired, Shing questioned Wong’s professional conduct and said that Wong was engaging in malicious competition with ATV. Wong sued for defamation and asked for HK$3m in damages.
The judge said that ATV and Shing could not provide any evidence that Wong took any confidential documents and that their statements had amounted to defamation of an “undoubtedly serious” degree, as it was not only insulting but also criminal. The defamatory statements were also broadcast on television to a wide audience. At the trial, Wong said that, following the statements, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau had written to him asking for an explanation, but despite his doing so HKTV was not awarded the licence in the end. The judge ruled that although the statements were defamatory, the court could not establish that this was the reason the application for the licence was denied and granted an award of HK$1.3 million.