An experienced Chinese state TV journalist has been convicted of slapping a Conservative Party conference delegate during a fringe meeting.
Linlin Kong, 49, a reporter with Chinese broadcaster CCTV, denied assaulting Enoch Lieu, claiming the Tory delegate had manhandled her first.
- February 20, 2020
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- September 23, 2019
But a judge found Kong, a journalist for 26 years and CCTV’s chief UK political correspondent, guilty of assault after a trial, calling it an attack “in the heat of the moment”.
Delivering his verdict at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court today, District Judge Shamim Qureshi told the reporter: “I conclude the defendant responded in two ways.
“The first was by slapping Mr Lieu, and the second was by later pushing his arm away.
“The first clearly amounts to a criminal assault, but the second does not.”
He added that the slap was with such force that it was heard by another delegate eight seats away, who turned to see Kong’s hand raised up to her own ear as she was following through on the strike.
The judge said: “In my view, it was in the heat of the moment that the defendant lost her cool professionalism as a journalist and instead became an impassioned heckler.”
Passing sentence, the judge gave Kong a 12-month conditional discharge, and ordered her to pay costs, a victim surcharge and £100 compensation, totalling £2,115.
Her barrister, Timothy Raggatt QC, told the judge she would appeal over both the conviction and sentence.
Giving evidence at trial, the victim previously told the court that the reporter slapped him and also later struck his elbow, after she accused conference panellists of trying to “separate” China.
Lieu, a Newcastle-under-Lyme Conservative member, was attacked during the Hong Kong fringe event meeting at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre on 30 September last year.
He denied laying a hand on Kong, instead giving evidence that he asked her “in a neutral tone” if she could “please leave”.
The court heard that Kong, of King’s Cross, north London, stood up and shouted “You guys are trying to separate China” to members of Hong Kong Watch and Conservative human rights committee chairman Fiona Bruce before the incident.
Lieu asked Kong to leave the hall after her outburst, in which she also allegedly labelled panel members “puppets”.
Judge Qureshi said: “While I have not heard from Fiona Bruce MP, or any others present, I think they would be horrified to consider that the private room at the conference was accused of being a hostile den of racism and sexism.
“I conclude the answer to the question of whether it was necessary for Ms Kong to use any force at all is, simply, no.
“I am therefore satisfied, so as to be sure, that this was a criminal assault by the defendant on Mr Lieu, and find the charge of common assault by beating proved.”
He added that the victim’s evidence had been “credible”, although there had been “inconsistencies” in his account, including that he was slapped not once but twice.
Lieu later said he was slapped once, and then struck to the elbow.
Describing Lieu’s response to Kong in the meeting, Judge Qureshi said: “The message from Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar comes to mind here.
“When the time comes, the public expects every person to do their duty.
“Mr Lieu did his duty to try and defuse a tense situation created by the defendant.”
He added that a suggestion by Kong’s defence that only authorised security should have dealt with the situation was “not valid”.
Qureshi also said the suggestion by defence barrister Raggatt that Lieu had been “author of his own misfortune” was “unabashed victim-blaming”.
He added that Lieu “bravely took responsibility upon himself”.
The judge also singled out the police for having “signally failed to keep proper control” of a video clip, which showed part of the incident immediately after the slap.
He added that witness Adam Kerson, who filmed the footage and later gave evidence at the trial, was “not lying” about his account.
Judge Qureshi said: “The police need to move with the times and modern technology, and they need to learn to differentiate between original and copy videos.”
He added: “Poor policing in this case has left Mr Kerson high and dry and subject to highly professional but merciless cross-examination.”