An aspiring lawyer accused of posting a “hatred-inciting” statement against police on his Facebook has been given the green light to practise in Hong Kong, after the Secretary for Justice and the Law Society indicated that it was his friend, and not he, who posted the message.

The Department of Justice had earlier asked Alfred Chu to respond to a complaint alleging he posted a message on his Facebook page in late July cursing policemen and their families.

Chu explained that his friend, who had access to his Facebook account, posted the message, and after he learned about it he deleted the message on his own accord. Chu later deleted his Facebook page entirely.

The Law Society had obtained evidence on oath from both Chu and his friend. Chu had also filed an affirmation and produced supporting letters written by his friends who all said they didn’t believe he would have published such a “hatred-inciting statement”.

High Court judge David Lok, in making an order to allow his admission as a lawyer, said that if Chu had made the statement, the court may have required further submissions before deciding whether he was a fit and proper person to be admitted as a solicitor.

In a written decision, Lok noted that this application was “certainly not a usual one”, and said it may serve as a solemn reminder of the professional standards all officers of the court must meet.

He said the statement posted on Chu’s Facebook account should not have been published by “anyone who values mutual respect as a core value of every civilised society,” adding that it went “well beyond a rational criticism of the work of the police”.

The judge said even though Chu had not published the statement himself, he should have been more careful in managing his Facebook account.

“I hope that this would be a lesson for you, making you a more careful and responsible solicitor in the future,” Lok wrote. “Remember, the robe that you are wearing for the first time today comes with a great responsibility to carry.”