In this episode, we meet Grenville Cross, Hong Kong’s first post-handover Director of Public Prosecutions. Among many topics, Grenville discusses his early days as a Crown Prosecutor, his distinguished 30-year career in public office and some of the notable cases he handled. He speaks with our Senior Partner Colin Cohen.
Host: Colin Cohen
Director: Niall Donnelly
Producer and VO: Thomas Latter
[00:00:32] Colin Cohen: Grenville, welcome to Law & More. You are one of the most respected and recognizable figures in our legal landscape. You came to Hong Kong as a Crown Council in 1978. You served as Deputy Director of the Public Prosecution for seven years, and in 1997 you were appointed as Director of Public Prosecutions in Hong Kong's first post handover administration.
A post which you held for 12 years. Aside from your distinguished career in public office, you have published many books. You are a notable champion of children's rights and a keen student of Chinese history. Grenville, thank you so much for joining us and welcome. Like I ask all our guests what's been keeping you busy recently.
[00:01:15] Grenville Cross: Well Colin, I have a number of balls in the air at the moment. Sometimes advising on international prosecutions, sometimes updating my book on sentencing and also campaigning on various issues that are close to my heart. So, one way or another, I'm pretty busy.
[00:01:28] Colin Cohen: Perhaps you could also tell us a little bit more about your upbringing. I understand that as a child, you lived in many different countries.
[00:01:37] Grenville Cross: Well, I did, yes. I came from a military family and my father was with the British Army. And so my early years were spent in traveling to various places to which he was posted. I remember. I was a month old when he was posted to Russia. And my first two years were spent in Moscow, even though I have no memories of that.
We then came back to England for a short time and he was then posted to Germany. Where I do have my first memories in life. Then back to England for a while, and then he was posted to Cypress. And I also have vivid memories of our time there. That was when the independence movement was underway and there was quite a bit of local disturbance.
And after that my father realized that it was highly disruptive for my education to keep chopping and changing schools. So at the age of eight, he packed me off to a boarding school in Suffolk, in the east of England. And I was there from eight through to 18. My primary and secondary schooling was there.
[00:02:25] Colin Cohen: What made you study law? You went to Southampton University. Why law?
[00:02:29] Grenville Cross: Well, I'd always been fascinating by the exchange of ideas and debating. When I was at school, I was in the debating society. We had an excellent careers master who was also in charge of the mooting competitions in the school called Watson.
And he very much fostered an interest in the exchange of ideas in me. He always used to tell us, I don't mind what you think, as long as you think something. So that was very much his philosophy. And as I say, I enjoyed debating. I became chairman of the Debating Society and it seemed a natural thing to go into law. The exchange of ideas, arguing one's position, and making a living out of it.
So I studied law, as you say, it was a fascinating time at Southampton University. It excited my interest in all sorts of different things at the same time, including politics. I was also very much involved in politics at that time, which is a very turbulent time. You may remember, there was a lot of dissent in the universities.
Various issues such as apartheid and so on got people very upset. The Trotskyite movements were very strong in the various Universities.
[00:03:23] Colin Cohen: Well I remember that cause I was at Cambridge and then I was on the National Union with students. I was a Conservative but now I've changed, I've shifted. I'm a Liberal Democrat now. I remember going to one of the conferences, all the Trotskyite's there and we were given a hard time as well. It was interesting.
[00:03:38] Grenville Cross: Well, I was actually the chairman of the Conservative Association, which made me a target for the Trotskyites. And I remember on one particular occasion, they attacked my room in in the hall of residence. They activated a fire extinguisher tossed it through the window and tried to kick the door down. Which was quite an unnerving experience. And the astonishing thing was that the university authorities subsequently asked me to pay for the damage. Anyway, so I argued my case successfully on that one and pointed out it wasn't my responsibility at all.
[00:04:02] Colin Cohen: So you went to the Bar. Before you came to Hong... I'm gonna ask you why you came to Hong Kong, but tell us what you did at the bar.
[00:04:07] Grenville Cross: Well, I was at the bar in London from 1974 to 76 in the chambers of a man called Jeffrey Thomas QC, who was also a labor member of parliament, the member of Parliament for Abbott in Wales.
And my work at that time was very basic, really going around the magistrates courts. Small drugs cases, small motoring cases, small assault cases. And then an a vacancy came up in the Customs and Excise department as a prosecutor. It was very well paid, it was very interesting. It was also challenging.
And so I took up that post and it involved traveling around southeast of England, south Wales and the Midlands doing cases, primarily tax cases, licensing cases, and drugs cases. And so on the basis of that experience as a prosecutor. When I applied for the job in Hong Kong in 1978, which was then recruiting Crown Council for the prosecution's division, it obviously assisted me in my application.
[00:04:58] Colin Cohen: What made you apply to come to Hong Kong?
[00:05:00] Grenville Cross: Well, there were several reasons, as I've told you, travel was very much in my blood. I mean, I grew up traveling around the world. We'd never actually been to the far east. Except my father always said he regretted not having come to this part of the world. Many of his friends had, and they all found it fascinating. And also there was absolutely nothing to be lost. I spoke to my employers in the Customs and Excise department and they said, well, if you go to Hong Kong for two and a half years, you'll have a marvelous time. You'll get a great deal of experience. And we'll keep your job open for you for when you come back. You see absolutely nothing to be lost, you see.
[00:05:28] Colin Cohen: It was a win-win situation. Actually, 1970, it's interesting cause Melville Boase, the founder of the firm, he was recruited at exactly that same time. He was a prosecutor in 78. Then he went to the legal aid department.
[00:05:42] Grenville Cross: Well, I was about to tell you that when I arrived in Hong Kong it was obviously a bit of a culture shock. Everything was completely different. Everything that that all all my bearings were lost in effect. And it was a rather difficult time.
I must say perhaps it was the same with you for six months or so. And I gave some thought, came back to England, but I gradually settled in and within the department at that time, there were some fascinating people. From all walks of life. From all parts of the world. And one of them, as you say, was your founding member, Mel Boase, who was a prosecutor when I arrived.
He'd arrived in the year before me. And I think he moved out after a short time I think it was the legal policy division.
But there were, a number of other. Incredibly interesting characters there. Gary Plowman, of course, who became QC. Gary Alderweis, the late Gary Alderweis who became a QC. And perhaps the most astonishing all was Max Lucas.
[00:06:27] Colin Cohen: Yes, yeah.
[00:06:27] Grenville Cross: Who was then the deputy DPP. And shortly after I arrived, he became the DPP and he was absolutely astonishing character. And he and I got on pretty well together and he always encouraged me to get fully involved in things and to make the most of life here.
[00:06:38] Colin Cohen: Yeah, because when I arrived in 1981. How I came here, I saw the adverts in the paper. In fact, it was saying, come to Hong Kong with an outrageous sum of money was put in The Times. Of course, we didn't get paid that amount of money, thinking I'd be here for two and a half years, and both of us are still here, it's quite amazing. Now, what are your early impressions of what type of work you were doing? Cause you worked your way up in the Attorney General's Chambers before the handover. Your experiences, you enjoy yourself?
[00:07:03] Grenville Cross: Well, one of the reasons I stayed was that within a very short time, and I was still only in my late twenties, I was doing cases at the very highest level.
Within a year or so, I was doing jury trials. Within two years I was actually prosecuting my first murder trial against Alan and in front of Mr. Justice Anderson. So this was unheard of in the UK. I mean, if I'd stayed in the UK, there's nowhere I'd be doing a case like that until I was well into my forties, you see? So it was incredibly challenging work and immensely satisfying work. And that was one of the reasons why I decided to make my career here.
[00:07:33] Colin Cohen: Yes, I mean, I found it out when I came into Hong Kong. I was within two, three years, I was doing the largest extradition case. I was acting for Lorraine Osman, Hashim Sam, the carrying case as a solicitor in practice, being a very young lawyer.
[00:07:48] Grenville Cross: Well, that's one of the great things about Hong Kong. I mean, if you are good and you work hard and you pull your weight, then you can make progress at a early stage. I think we obviously have the same experience.
[00:07:55] Colin Cohen: Yes, you then worked your way up and you then became the deputy director of public prosecutions. How much of your time, then doing administration and looking after the department compared to doing actual cases.
[00:08:06] Grenville Cross: Well, that came later on. was primarily administration once I became DPP. When I became Deputy DPP I was very fortunate because I was closely involved in the criminal appeal advocacy. And most of my work was related to that. And what was particularly fascinating at that time was that I was responsible for the criminal cases that went to the Privy Council of London.
So from about 1990 to 1997, I was to and fro all the time between here in London. Appearing at the Privy Council on behalf of the Attorney General. So that was fascinating work.
[00:08:34] Colin Cohen: Yes, I think I remember I did one case on loitering and that went all the way out to the Privy Council.
[00:08:39] Grenville Cross: Yeah, was a fascinating experience to get to go across there, yeah.
[00:08:42] Colin Cohen: Of course, for our listeners, people didn't realize, although the final court in Hong Kong was the Privy Council. The Privy Council always said, we are sitting in Hong Kong, although they were in Downing Street.
But what is very interesting recently of the Privy Council, they are actually now going to sit in the Caymans. So Privy Council have gone off and sat in the Caymans in other places to try to show that, look, you don't have to come all the way to Downing Street to hear the cases.
[00:09:05] Grenville Cross: And another interesting story on that, was that the Privy Council Law Lords were absolutely fascinated by Hong Kong.
And I remember being told that whenever a Hong Kong case came up, they used to vie with each other to sit on the pedal. They were so fascinated by Hong Kong.
[00:09:18] Colin Cohen: Yes, so 1997 coming up there, then you became appointed as the director for public prosecutions. Eyebrows raised as to why we didn't give it a local person. Can you tell us something about that? Were you surprised?
[00:09:32] Grenville Cross: I was surprised because I had applied in 1994 when a vacancy came up and I was in terms told that we're localizing this position, very sorry, but we can't give you the post. So it came as a great surprise when I applied after 1997.
And I was then chosen which I think was a great show of faith in the incoming administration. It showed that expatriates like us who are committed to Hong Kong, still had a role here. And it showed that if you loved Hong Kong, if you were committed to its way of life and you wanted what was best for Hong Kong, then the rewards were still there for you.
So I think it sent out a very positive message to the expect community, and indeed the world.
[00:10:07] Colin Cohen: As DPP, the early days, tell us a little bit about what your objectives were, what you are trying achieve. Obviously, one thing I found was a lot of people weren't that keen to go into the chambers or into the government work for the government, for the Secretary of Justice.
Were you involved in trying to recruit, were you involved in that area for prosecutors?
[00:10:25] Grenville Cross: Well, a huge amount of my work was administration, so I had to oversee recruitment boards and all those related issues. I don't remember any particular problem about recruitment. We were fairly fortunate the people were able to choose, and we didn't take people just for the sake of it because we didn't have enough applicants.
But more generally I was very conscious of the fact that one country, two systems was a new methodology that the eyes of the world are very much upon us. And that if our new arrangements were going to succeed, then our legal system had to flourish. And that meant having a successful prosecution service.
And so I did my level best in those years to make our prosecution service more transparent, more connected. And indeed more international.
[00:11:03] Colin Cohen: And I recollect that you did appear in the Court of Final Appeal when you were the director and you were doing some bits of advocacy.
Any notable cases that come to mind?
[00:11:11] Grenville Cross: Just tell you about one or two of the earlier ones.
One case that I'll never forget was the first extradition case between hong Kong and Macau. That was in 1981. And the late Gary Alder called me in after lunch one day and said, words to the effect, we haven't had an extradition case between Hong Kong and Macau ever. And one is coming up in the rainier future.
It was a man called Lund Wing Hong I remember, who murdered his girlfriend in a hotel in Macau and then came back to Hong Kong. And the Macau authorities obviously wanted him back for trial. And cause there was no precedent this complicated things. So I was told by Gary to go to Macau the next day, to brush up overnight on how the extradition could be achieved.
And to brief the Attorney General so I had to study the Anglo Portuguese extradition treaty. I went across the next morning with the men from Interpol. Brief the Attorney General in due course he filed his application for this man to be sent back. I then had to advise the government on how to handle this because there hadn't been a precedent.
Then I did the court case in the magistrate court and fortunately the man didn't contest his extradition. He didn't have a lawyer until he was sent back, so that was a fascinating case. One of the biggest cases I ever did was the case of [Sin Yau Ming]. You may remember that the Bill of Rights was introduced in 1991. And this completely changed the legal landscape. And this was referred from a trial to the Court of Appeal. And I was against Daniel Fong, whose case was very strong. My case was actually quite weak.
And I had to argue for the maintenance of the various presumptions. Most of which were actually struck down by the Court of Appeal. And that set the scene for the interpretation of the new Bill of Rights in the years to come. So that was a major battler.
It's not particularly significant in itself, but I was slightly proud of being able to do the very last criminal case in the Privy Council in June, 1997. And the very first one, in the Court of Final Appeal in September, 1997. So that one for the history books.
But there werere other reported cases. You may remember. Yip Kai Fuen.
[00:12:59] Colin Cohen: Yeah, the gangster.
[00:13:00] Grenville Cross: The Gangster, he was part of the triumvirate, which terrorized southern China in the late 1990s. There was Choon Chi Kuk in Guandong. There was so called Broken Tooth in Macau. And of course, Yip Kai Fuen who would come across into Hong Kong with his gangs and w reek havoc in the robbery shops.
In the Goldsmith shops and banks of Hong Kong. And he was caught shot when he was captured. And that generated a very big case.
[00:13:22] Colin Cohen: Whilst you were DPP, were you anytime enhancing relationships between the mainland and Hong Kong with regard potential issues as to mutual legal assistance?
Was that part of your agenda at the time?
[00:13:34] Grenville Cross: Well, we certainly tried to improve relations between Hong Kong and and other parts of China, but also internationally. And this was very much part of LC Leungs the first SJ of Hong Kong.
This was very much part of our overall strategy. Strangely enough, before 1997, there was very little contact between prosecutors in Hong Kong and other parts of China or Macau and prosecutors internationally. I mean, they'd occasionally meet them in international conferences and so on.
But there was very little way of formal contact. And so we realized that it would be good for Hong Kong and spreading the word about one country two systems, if we did have more contacts with the mainland. So I went on various legal study visits. To various parts of China to explain how our system was working.
And then in 2001, I took our prosecution's division into the International Association of Prosecutors as the 75th organizational member. And so we were able to establish very close links with prosecutors throughout the world at that time. And this helped us greatly in our work cause. We're able to liase with them, where we had common problems, seek their advice and so on.
So that helped us enormously as well as reinforcing international confidence in one country, two systems.
[00:14:36] Colin Cohen: So you must have enjoyed yourself as Director of Public Prosecutions
[00:14:39] Grenville Cross: I enjoyed a lot of it. But there was a huge amount of administration, there's no doubt about it.
I mean, I was very fortunate to have some very good administrators working for me. Very good deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, John Reed, who was my Chief of Staff. Who dealt so far as possible with administration matters. But there was still many things that were referred to the director for decision and that was a great strain and a great distraction. But it was part of the job and you had had to do your best.
[00:15:05] Colin Cohen: And in 2009 you decided after 12 years to retire from the DPP. In the past, most directors end up in the high court. I can give a list of those. I won't call it a shoe-in, did you want to go to the bench, was it something that you wanted to do or didn't want to do?
[00:15:21] Grenville Cross: It never had any great traction for me, frankly. I mentioned earlier how I'd been told that I couldn't become DPP in the mid 1990s because the post was being localized and shortly after that I was told that I was actually offered the high court, and I very nearly took it.
But at the end of the day, I realized this was very much compensation for not having got the job I really wanted. And it wasn't at the end of the day what what I wanted to do in life. And so I decided to do other things. 2009, of course, most of my predecessors, they go to the bar.
[00:15:48] Colin Cohen: You weren't keen...
[00:15:49] Grenville Cross: Well, I mean, I was told, if you go private practice, you'll command huge fees and all the rest of it.
But I'd been in practice by that time for 35 years. 33 as a prosecutor. And I really wanted to do other things legally related, but there were many other things that I still wanted to do.
And so I took up various academic appointments. Hong Kong U, Chinese U, universities in the mainland as well. Recently I joined the Council of Hong Kong U through the International Association of Prosecutors. When I left, I was a member of the executive committee, and I then became the Vice Chairman of their Senate, which is an advisory body.
And then I was given one of the most important jobs I've ever had. Which was Chairman of the standing committee on prosecutors which I still hold.
[00:16:25] Colin Cohen: Can you tell us a little bit about that?
[00:16:27] Grenville Cross: Yeah, yeah.
The International Association of Prosecutors regularly received requests from prosecutors around the world for help.
Sometimes they're being intimidated. Sometimes their conditions of service are being arbitrarily changed. Sometimes they're being posted to other parts of the country as a punishment. Sometimes they're not being given support by the government's when they're coming under criticism. It can be all types of things.
Sometimes, of course prosecutors are murdered. This happens quite often, particularly in in Latin America. And so requests are always coming into the association for help. And this committee that I chair at the moment comprises also a prosecutor from South Africa and another one for the United States.
So these requests for assistance are then referred to my committee, I liase with them. And we then advise the association on how they should respond. So this is immensely important work. And that takes up a fair bit of time as well cause there are quite a few requests for assistance. At the end of the day, the association only has its moral authority, but as it is an international body, associated with the United Nations, when it writes to various governments and requests them to take steps in sport of their prosecutors, it does carry a fair amount of weight.
[00:17:29] Colin Cohen: Do you ever visit these people and see them?
[00:17:32] Grenville Cross: We actually have a protocol which regulates how we operate. And that is one of the possibilities that is envisaged. But so far we've been able to deal with the matters through correspondence. But that could certainly happen one day.
[00:17:42] Colin Cohen: Yeah. And I'm also interested in the academia. Your the faculty of honorary professor, the faculty of law, university of Hong Kong. You're a visiting professor of Law in [Zhong Yan] University of Economics and of Law Wuhan. Do you give lectures?
[00:17:55] Grenville Cross: Well, I do. I'm going to the Zhong Yan University in Wuhan in June. So I'll be giving a series of lectures there. In Hong Kong, I work with the authorities at Hong Kong U. Partly on the council, but also I give lectures from time to time to the students. Normally the PCLL classes, often related to my own area of sentencing.
And as you say, I'm also honory professor of the Chinese University. I give them talks from time to time. And I also have mentees. I have two mentees at the moment who I give ongoing advice on their careers.
[00:18:25] Colin Cohen: Takes a bit of time because I'm an honory lecturer of Hong Kong University.
I do examining, so it does take up a bit of time, especially preparation of classes and keeping up to date with the Law.
[00:18:34] Grenville Cross: Well, that's very important. But we mentioned my book on sentencing, it's now in its 10th edition, the 11th edition is coming up next year. As you probably know, I'm also the sentencing editor of Hong Kong Cases. And that requires me to be up to date all the time on the latest cases.
So it's no extra hardship because I'm doing it every week anyway. But it is fascinating to keep in touch with the students and to help in their careers.
[00:18:52] Colin Cohen: I'm interested also that you always stayed very busy. You've been in the public eye, you've got professorships and you do speak up quite a lot on various issues.
And one issue, which you are very concerned about is child abuse. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
That's an interesting and difficult area.
[00:19:07] Grenville Cross: Well, my interest originally arose in the early 1990s when Jerry Matthews, who was then the Attorney General asked me to chair a working group on the evidence of children in criminal proceedings.
And the backdrop to that was that England at Wales had recently revamped their laws to make it far easier for children to give evidence. Some of the rules of evidence was were very strict. Corroboration was required of children when they testified. The evidence of children couldn't be accepted, if they didn't really understand the oath.
So there were all those sort of problems, but those were swept away in England. And Jerry Matthews asked me to chair a committee here to decide whether we should follow suit. So I had to chair this committee. And on this committee were various representatives from the child rights movements, including those who were involved in the fighting of child abuse.
And I learned a lot from them. And that excited my interest. Our report was accepted, and of course they changed the law. But as a result of my involvement, at that time I remained in touch with the various organizations. And after I left the government, I was asked, first of all, to become the honorary consultant to the Child Protection Institute.
That involved giving lectures to nurses, doctors social welfare professionals and so on. And then they asked me to become the patron against child abuse. And in that role, I lobby the government, I make the case for changes in the law. One of the things that we campaigned for a long time was a Commission for Children. And that was finally established in 2018. We've been pressing for a long time for the mandatory reporting of child abuse. And that particular proposal is now making its way through the legislature. And will hopefully be enacted by the end of this year. Other things that we're currently campaigning for are a so-called Cinderella law, which makes it clear, that those who psychologically abuse a child can be prosecuted in the same way as someone who physically assaults a child.
At the moment it's very, very difficult. Most of the cases are purely based on physical abuse, whether it's tangible evidence that could be seen. And it's very, very difficult to prosecute anyone for psychological abuse. So these are the type of things that we're looking at.
[00:20:53] Colin Cohen: And what is very interesting, I was listening to the RTHK, this morning at 6:30 and before the news comes on, you always get these public announcements. And one announcement today was report child abuse, which was the first time, actually I've heard that on the RTHK. Now that's good because it's getting people to be more aware that you do report when you see things.
[00:21:12] Grenville Cross: Oh, yeah, yeah. And you sometimes see placarded stations and on buses and so on.
So it's an ongoing campaign, there's no doubt about it. We have fallen seriously behind many other common law jurisdictions. And there has been resistance to change. But nonetheless, we're keeping up momentum and we're making some progress. Not as much as we would like, but some progress.
[00:21:29] Colin Cohen: Let me turn to another topic. It's the elephant in the room. Hong Kong has faced challenges in recent times, particularly with a civil unrest in 2019. Your thoughts as to that time of event that took place in respect of all of that.
[00:21:43] Grenville Cross: Well, obviously immensely distressing time for everybody. The one country, two systems came under severe threat. There was a real possibility in my view that if the situation had deteriorated much more, that the People's Liberation Army would actually have invaded and restored law and order in that way. But I think there was an element whereby some people actually wanted to provoke China into sending in the PLA because they knew this would be the end of one country, two systems. Fortunately, China kept its nerve, decided not to send in the army. It relied on the local police force to restore law and order, and of course enacted the national security law. And this in my view, has put one country, two systems firmly back on track. And it's all systems go.
And I'm particularly pleased the way in which the judiciary has emerged intact from the experiences that we went through. And it continues to be the fundamental element in our rule of law.
[00:22:34] Colin Cohen: Yeah, it brings in another topic which I'm interested to have a talk to you about. This natural security law, it's a fundamental part of Hong Kong Law. You're being a supporter of this. You've published, you've spoken about it at various matters as well.
And those cases are going on at the moment and people use the natural security law. When I go abroad, everyone says to me, is Hong Kong a safe place to come and visit? And I look at them and I say, of course it is. But everyone's worried about the national security law, overseas cause they don't know about it as well.
From your perspective, you said the one country, two systems. Is it working, should we have enacted a lot earlier?
[00:23:09] Grenville Cross: This is a very big subject, Collin. We could complete a whole session to it.
Obviously in retrospect, the proposals in 2003 should have been implemented. They were far milder than the ones that we eventually received. But for various reasons that didn't happen. The point I think that has to be made is that the national security law that we've got is relatively mild in comparison to most other countries or certainly many other countries.
You only have to look for example at Singapore, at Malaysia. Both of which have preventive detention in relation to national security. Neither of which have jury trials in relation to national security suspects. And neither of which has the international covenant on civil and political rights embodied into its legal arrangements. By contrast, of course, our own law is human rights heavy.
Article four of the National Security Law actually makes clear. That the international covenant on civil political rights is to be protected in the application of the law. In Article five goes on to make clear that the traditional rights, such a presumption of innocence, right to defense counsel and so on. Which suspects have always enjoyed, are to be respected in relation to this law as well.
So all these protections are actually built in and often those people who create the scare stories and Demonize this particular piece of legislation have their own motives for doing so. And it's very strange, as I say that they only mentioned Hong Kong, without mentioning two other countries which were under British control for a long time.
Singapore and Malaysia. And this shows to me that they do have a specific agenda of trying to demonize our national security law to put Hong Kong in a bad light and thereby to embarrass China generally.
[00:24:40] Colin Cohen: The other area which I seek your views on. It's been quite a topical area, is one of the interesting facets of Hong Kong and the legal system. We can have King's Council from England coming out to Hong Kong to deal with difficult cases, which are unique, which will enhance and strengthen the Hong Kong legal system. And recently with the National Security Law, there's been a lot of publicity.
There's a conference recently talking about the admission of senior council for the national security law and then they've changed the legal practitioner's ordinances saying you must get a certificate from a chief executive. It's not a complete ban as well. It was very interesting that Alan at the conference I went to at Hong Kong U, made it very clear, said nowhere else in the world in particular go to the US, go to anywhere else.
Would allow any person from overseas to come in, let's say, in New York, and be a member of the bar in New York and defend national security. And yet here in Hong Kong, you can be admitted to deal with this. Your views on this with overseas council?
[00:25:39] Grenville Cross: Well, Alan of course was absolutely right and it's not only in relation to national security law cases, but in UK and Canada, Australia and so on. They wouldn't allow overseas council in to do any cases, let alone national security law cases. And remember as well that insofar as there are going to be restrictions on foreign council coming in to do cases, they only do apply to council who are overseas. Foreign lawyers who live and work in Hong Kong are entitled to do these cases and won't be affected at all. So this is only concerned with people who are overseas and who may be subject to particular pressures from their own governments. In relation to disclosing national security material. Obviously there is a provision in the national security law that confidentiality has to be maintained by defense counsel. But if an overseas council obviously returned to his home jurisdiction. It's very difficult, if not impossible to enforce that. And there's no doubt at all that even if on its face, a particular case may seem not to involve national security issues. In the course of cross-examination, for example, significant information about the way in which the National Security Police conduct their operations both locally and internationally could come out.
And this might be of great interest to overseas intelligence agencies. And it would place the overseas council in very great difficulty. If they were asked by those overseas agencies to disclose information which they have received. They would be told It's your patriotic duty to disclose this information that you have received from Hong Kong about the way in which the National Security Police in China operate.
So it's obviously a very delicate balance to be achieved. But as I understand it, the legislation is not going to include a blanket ban and each case will be decided on its own merits. And for example, you remember the case of Tong Yin Kip, which was the first case? Yes. I mean, that's a straightforward caseof local terrorism, and I wouldn't imagine that there would be any great concerns about an overseas council appearing in that type of case because the facts were so clear.
And the allegations didn't involve the international application of the National Security Law. So that type of case, I wouldn't have thought there'd be a great deal of problem about allowing an overseas council. But as I say, other types of cases where highly sensitive material might come out could well be a different kettle of fish.
[00:27:44] Colin Cohen: Yeah, that's interesting. And moving to another subject, I know you are a very keen student of Chinese history. I understand you are vice president of the Hong Kong Collector Society. What got you into that?
[00:27:54] Grenville Cross: Well, I've always been fascinated with the past. At school I was very interested in history.
And gave serious thought to actually becoming a historian. And my father actually also encouraged this interest. He he was something of a collector himself. And so from an early age, I collected various things. When I came to Hong Kong, I was fascinated by China's history. I started collecting Tong Chi Porcelain. So-called after the Tong Chi Emperor who was Emperor of China from 1862 to 1875, primarily because it was affordable.
On my Crown Council salary. I could just about afford a piece every few months, but anything prior to that, any earlier porcelain would've been beyond my range. And over the years I concentrated on buying various other things. Sometimes China related, sometimes not. For example, I started collecting Chinese hat buttons in the Imperial era.
The mandarins were recognized by the hat buttons that they wore at the top of their hats. So there were nine grades, different stones going from the ruby, which was the number one all the way down to the silver, which was number nine. And so you can still find these, and I collected things like that.
I also diversified into, for example, vietnam postcards and photographs from Shanghai and postcards. And more recently I've been concentrating on old photographs of China itself with a particular emphasis on Macau and Hong Kong.
[00:29:10] Colin Cohen: Well, that's fascinating, and you've had a very distinguished record of public service. You've been awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star in 2010 for service to the legal system. And in 2021, the Gold Bauhinia Star for services to the community. How do you react to that, those nice gongs coming your way?
[00:29:27] Grenville Cross: Well, it's always nice to have your work recognized. And if it shows that I've been able to make some useful contribution to Hong Kong and to the maintenance, the one country, two systems principle. Then obviously I'm delighted.
[00:29:39] Colin Cohen: I know that you've always been there, it's common knowledge that you are a vocal supporter of John Lee's candidacy for Chief Executive.
You've known him for many years because when you were at the Director of Public Prosecutions, he was chief of police at the time.
[00:29:53] Grenville Cross: Well, he was my counterpart. He was what was called the Director of Crime and Security. So he was effectively charged of the criminal wing. And he and I would've regular meetings to discuss strategies, anti-crime strategies, and so on.
[00:30:03] Colin Cohen: You've been appointed to the 90 member advisory presidium of the Hong Kong SAR Chief executive. Tell us a little bit about that, what you do with that?
[00:30:11] Grenville Cross: Well, that was primarily in relation to the election last year. And as a member of that, I was asked to give my opinions on various policies that should be taken forward and which should be prioritized and so on.
So I was able to provide advice on the issues that I thought should be pursued. And that of course included the child rights and the child legislation that was required. So that was a very useful opportunity to have an input at the highest level.
[00:30:34] Colin Cohen: We've emerged from the global pandemic. We returned to normality, they call it. What are your thoughts on Hong Kong's future as we are now today?
[00:30:44] Grenville Cross: Well, I'm very optimistic. I see that Chris Hoy, the financial services secretary, who's now in London, had a very good visit. He met three government ministers and this was obviously a very good sign.
And I think this shows that a lot of the turmoil that was associated with Hong Kong and a lot of the antagonism is starting to dissipate, I think it's recognized despite the best efforts of the United States, that Hong Kong is playing a vital role in this part of the world. That it's an important player for those who want to get involved, particularly in the Greater Bay Area.
And that it is going from strength to strength. Its legal services seem to be excellent. Its judiciary is as independent and as effective as ever. And this shows to me that anyone will be very unwise indeed to write Hong Kong off.
[00:31:28] Colin Cohen: Yes, I mean, clearly what you're saying is that the rule of law is there, is the absolute crucial to us, hong Kong's success. The fact that we are different, we are part of China. We are China, but yet we have our own uniqueness with our own legal system, which adds that extra dimension so that people should come here, set up their offices here, and they'll always know that the rule of law and the ability to get redressed to the Hong Kong courts remains as ever a cornerstone of our system.
[00:31:56] Grenville Cross: And fundamental to all of this, of course, is the judiciary. And I'm delighted that even though pressure was put on our non-permanent judges to resign. The bulk of them have remained.
And not only that, they've come out with statements in support of the way in which our legal system operates and express their confidence in the Court of Final Appeal. And of course we've recently had a new recruit appointed to the Court of Final Appeal, Mr. Justice Keenan from Australia
which is a great sign of confidence in Hong Kong's future. And I'm sure that others will follow in due course.
[00:32:24] Colin Cohen: And for our listeners, a Court of Final Appeal is crucial to our system.
[00:32:29] Grenville Cross: And of course, these aren't just any old judges. These are judges, the very highest quality. I mean, we're exceptionally fortunate that we have two former presidents of the United Kingdom Supreme Court, lord Newberger and Lord Phillips. And we also have the former Chief Justice of Canada, Beverly McClellan, and we have two former Chief justices of Australia.
So while people of this caliber are continuing to sit in our Court of Final Appeal and helping to mold our jurisprudence, then I don't think anyone need to have a slight concern about Hong Kong's future. And indeed, they may feel extremely confident about it.
[00:32:59] Colin Cohen: Grenville, it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us on Law & More. Thank you so much.
[00:33:05] Grenville Cross: Thank you, Colin. Thank you.