A Hong Kong court has said a woman who suffered a serious eye injury during an anti-government protest can launch a legal bid to access warrants sought by the police to obtain her medical records.
The Court of First Instance granted leave to the woman, identified only as K, a day after her lawyers said the move by the police had constituted an “egregious breach” of her rights to her privacy and access to justice.
“I consider that there is an arguable case that merits fuller consideration,” wrote Mr Justice Godfrey Lam Wan-ho in his judgment on Friday.
The woman, who was granted anonymity for fear of doxxing, has become an icon for the anti-government movement after she was hit in the right eye during clashes between protesters and police in Tsim Sha Tsui on August 11.
Speaking through her lawyers afterwards, K said she was satisfied with the outcome and was “happy to see that Hong Kong is still a society with the rule of law”.
While protesters said she was shot by officers with a beanbag round, the force has said the public should not jump to conclusions, and there have been suggestions she was actually struck by a projectile fired by a protester.
Police subsequently sought warrants to obtain her medical report from Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Yau Ma Tei, after saying they had failed to get in touch with K. They had gained access by September 4, even though her lawyers argued they knew the woman would challenge the move in court.
But police have not produced the warrants for K, which she said made it difficult to lodge direct legal challenges. So she and her lawyers filed the present case to first argue they should be given the warrant.
The judge expects to hear full arguments on the case as soon as both sides are ready to proceed.
On Thursday, lawyers for the woman also demanded a court ban to stop police looking at the medical records, but the judge said it was not necessary because police said in court they would not look at it for the time being.
The present application is expected to be the first in a string of other legal challenges.
By obtaining the warrant, K could then launch a direct challenge to the police’s move to access her medical records without her consent.
On Thursday, her barrister Robert Pang Yiu-hung SC said they had written to the police, copying in the Department of Justice and Hospital Authority, on three occasions on September 2, 3 and 6, after police had obtained two warrants by August 29.
On September 3, Pang said, they specifically informed police they would challenge the court warrant, a day after they were told by the authority that it had not handed over the report.
But, by September 4, the report had been handed to police, the court heard. Pang said K had still not been told why police wanted her medical report.
But Charlotte Draycott SC, for the police, said the warrant might contain details of investigations into possible crimes, so it was protected by an immunity under public interest.
She also suggested it was not a particularly useful document as a launch pad for K to file follow-up legal action.
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