Plagiarism case returns to court for review

May 5, 1995

The controversial Hong Kong University plagiarism case will go to court for the third time in three years - for a judicial review of the university's internal inquiry.

Linda Koo and her research partner, John Ho, last month won the right to seek a judicial review of how the university's inquiry into a senior academic, Lam Tai-hing, was conducted.

The 16-month university inquiry ending in January cleared Dr Lam of misconduct or dishonourable behaviour, contradicting a 1992 finding by Hong Kong's High Court that he had plagiarised a questionnaire for lung cancer research drawn up by Dr Koo and Professor Ho.

Dr Koo, a lecturer in community medicine, and Professor Ho, of the department of surgery, have asked the judicial review to quash the decision of the university's inquiry.

They want the judicial review to find that the inquiry did not act fairly "because it did not afford them an opportunity to comment on the evidence of Dr Lam and the evidence of other witnesses".

They said the inquiry report made criticisms of them without providing a right of reply.

Dr Koo said they were not asking the judicial review to retry the case. She said: "Our dispute is with the procedures of this university, the way they totally criticised us and then disseminated it around the world."

Dr Koo said the report described their work as "inferior" and alleged that she and Ho were guilty of "academic malpractice".

The university inquiry said its investigation had applied the stricter standard of proof used in criminal cases - that of beyond reasonable doubt - rather than basing its decision on the balance of probabilities, as in civil cases.

It said it also considered new evidence as well as that which was not allowed to be presented before the courts. The inquiry exonerated Dr Lam of any wrongdoing.

The university declined to comment on the judicial review.

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