HK court suspends police search warrant to access medical records of teen who claims she was gang-raped by officers

30-Nov-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

A teenager who claims she was gang-raped inside a Hong Kong police station has convinced a court to set aside a search warrant for her private medical records.

Police had obtained the warrant from a magistrate in early November while investigating the girl’s allegations she was raped by four officers inside Tsuen Wan Police Station on September 27.

The warrant, according to her lawyers, gave police permission to access her medical records, including those from long before her complaint, and security footage from her doctor’s clinic.

But it was soon suspended when her lawyers went to the issuing magistrate to challenge it on November 5, a day after she learned about its existence from her private doctor.

On the same day, the court granted an anonymity order to protect the teen’s identity by naming her as X.

People, including some lawyers, and it would seem the Hospital Authority, seem to assume that a search warrant can’t be challenged in the courts

Lawyer Michael Vidler

The warrant was formally set aside during a closed-door hearing on Tuesday, after the magistrate heard full arguments on why the warrant should not have been issued.

X’s lawyer Michael Vidler said the decision was significant as “it is the court exercising its supervisory role over the police use of search warrants”, which his firm had previously called “an outrageous abuse of police power” and “a gross invasion of privacy” in the present case.

“People, including some lawyers, and it would seem the Hospital Authority, seem to assume that a search warrant can’t be challenged in the courts,” Vidler said. “In the context of search warrants being taken out to search medical records of suspects and even victim complainants, doctors retain their fundamental duty to maintain doctor-patient confidentiality.”

Vidler added that the authority or doctors could take steps to persuade police not to execute a warrant before they had time to get legal advice.

It would also be appropriate for doctors or holders of medical data to seek an injunction from a duty judge to stop the search from taking place until after the legality of the warrant has been tested in court, the lawyer said.

When asked to comment on the latest development, a police spokesman repeated an earlier statement.

“The allegation is serious. The case has been passed to the New Territories South regional crime squad for investigation,” the spokesman said. “But so far, the contents made in the allegation do not match with our findings. We will continue the probe.”

Previously, police confirmed a lawyer had reported the case to the Complaints Against Police Office on X’s behalf on October 22, claiming his client was raped.

A source with knowledge of the case said the girl claimed she had walked past the station on September 27 when four police officers in riot gear seized her, took her inside and arrested her. All four then raped her in a room, she alleged.


Category: Hong Kong

Print This Post