Hong Kong ‘spies’ appear in court for first time after co-accused found dead

Chi Leung (Peter) Wai outside the Old Bailey
Chi Leung (Peter) Wai outside the Old Bailey - Lucy North/PA

Two men alleged to have spied on Hong Kong activists in the UK have appeared in court for the first time since their co-accused was found dead.

The body of former Royal Marine, Matthew Trickett, 37, who was awaiting trial, was discovered in Grenfell Park, Maidenhead, on Sunday.

On Friday, his co-defendants, Chi Leung Wai, 38 and Chung Biu Yuen, 63, attended the Old Bailey for their first Crown Court hearing.

The trio were accused of carrying out surveillance on Hong Kong pro-democracy activists living in the UK.

Mr Wai, a Border Force officer at Heathrow, and Mr Yuen, a Hong Kong trade official, both wearing dark suits and black ties, spoke only to confirm their names during the brief hearing.

A provisional five-week trial was set for Kingston Crown Court from Feb 10 2025.

A further hearing at the Old Bailey will take place on Oct 25.

Case against Trickett discontinued

Mr Justice Jeremy Baker confirmed the case would be heard by a High Court judge and granted the two men continued conditional bail.

Alistair Richardson, for the prosecution, told the court that the case against Mr Trickett had been discontinued following his death.

He added: “The cause of his death is currently given as unexplained, and his death has been confirmed by the coroner.”

Mr Trickett appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on May 13 for the first time.

At that hearing, despite the prosecution asking for Mr Trickett to be remanded in custody for his own welfare, he was granted bail.

Mr Trickett was filmed sprinting away from court while covering his face with his hands.

His body was found just under a week later.

Thames Valley Police referred to IOPC

While he was on bail, he was in contact with Thames Valley Police as he was required to register at a police station regularly.

Because of this contact before his death, the force has referred itself to the policing watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

The IOPC has decided the matter should be investigated by Thames Valley Police’s Professional Standards Department.

Mr Trickett’s family said in a statement: “We are mourning the loss of a much-loved son, brother, and family member.”

Mr Trickett was formerly employed by the UK Border Force at Heathrow before joining Home Office Immigration Enforcement in February this year.

He was also listed as the sole director of MTR Consultancy, which he founded in 2021, and he described himself as a security consultant.

On Friday, Thames Valley Police confirmed a post mortem had been carried out and Mr Trickett’s death was not being treated as suspicious.

The three men were detained following an investigation by counter-terrorism police in which 11 people were arrested under the National Security Act, which was introduced last year to tackle the threat to the UK posed by hostile states.

The men were charged with assisting a foreign intelligence service to “undertake information gathering, surveillance and acts of deception” between Dec 20 last year and May 2. They were also charged with assisting a foreign intelligence service by “forcing entry into a UK residential address”.