Court hears City Harvest Church member's application to hire Queen's Counsel

A hearing started on Monday to look into City Harvest Church member Chew Eng Han's application for an elite British lawyer to defend him. The case, however, was adjourned barely an hour into the hearing.

Justice V K Rajah told Chew's lawyer that the case was a "simple one" involving questions of fact, and not one with "complex legal issues". On that basis, he could not understand Chew's need for a Queen's Counsel (QC) to defend him.

He was also not entirely convinced that QC Caplan Jonathan Michael, whom Chew was looking to hire, had the required expertise in local statutes and trial processes here. He also felt that Chew had not given enough information in his affidavit to show that he had made "conscientious efforts" to contact other counsel to represent him.

Chew's lawyers have been given an hour to further consolidate their arguments and furnish the court additional information. The hearing resumes at noon.

Chew, 52, is one of the six City Harvest church leaders charged last June with conspiring to cheat the church of millions of dollars. They are alleged to have funnelled $24 million into sham bond investments to further the career of senior pastor Kong Hee's pop singer wife. The six are also said to have misappropriated another $26.6 million to cover up the first sum.

All of Chew's co-accused are being represented by Senior Counsel. Chew originally hired Senior Counsel Francis Xavier of Rajah and Tann, but the firm was discharged in October. The Straits Times understands this is because it was involved in drawing up original documents for bond investments involved in the case.

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