Anger over the expat officers ‘doing China’s dirty work’

Published by The Mail on Sunday (11th August, 2019)

As the clashes between police and protesters grow fiercer and the number of arrests soars, there is fury over the leading role played by senior British officers in cracking down on pro-democracy protesters.

Activists accuse them of ‘doing China’s dirty work’ as they direct squads of heavily armed anti-riot police, then round up teenagers and young adults.

Three men – Chief Superintendent Rupert Dover, Chief Inspector David Jordan and Superintendent Justin Shave – have been targeted by activists for directing some of the most brutal operations by Hong Kong police. ‘These British officers enjoy freedom and democracy at home but beat up Hong Kongers who are fighting for the same things,’ said Joshua Wong, one of the most prominent activists.

Ch Insp Jordan was filmed giving orders in a ‘dispersal operation’ two weeks ago during a protest against police brutality. ‘Do it, do it,’ he tells an officer discussing how to seal off a street.

Police fired tear gas, rubber bullets, ‘sponge’ grenades and pepper spray, leading to numerous arrests and four casualties needing hospital treatment. Two days later, 44 people, including an airline pilot, a teacher and a teenage girl, were among the first batch of protesters charged with rioting, which can carry a ten-year jail sentence.

The following weekend, Ch Insp Jordan, a former Royal Navy officer who joined the force in 1992, was seen with Ch Supt Dover at Ma On Shan, where furious locals claimed officers illegally forced their way into a home as they tackled protesters targeting a police station.

Ch Insp Jordan has expressed surprise at the abuse he has received. But he told a reporter four years ago he was ‘fully committed’ to Hong Kong. ‘I have children born here who I wish to see have a fruitful and enjoyable childhood.’

Ch Supt Dover, who attended public school in Bedfordshire before joining the Hong Kong police in 1988, was commended for his frontline work during previous unrest in 2014.

Supt Shave achieved notoriety early in the protests when he pointed and gave orders to fire tear gas as a pro-democracy politician approached police in a bid to urge a peaceful resolution.

The three officers’ personal details have been published online and they have been vilified on social media, targeted on ‘Wanted’ posters, and barracked at protests. Last night, another senior British officer was directing operations in Tai Po amid more confrontations with protesters and angry locals. When I approached him he turned his back, refused to give his identity and hastened away.

Neil Taylor, chairman of the Overseas Inspectors’ Association, said recently they had suffered an ordeal. ‘Their kids have been targeted at school by bullies, a wife was approached in a supermarket and abused. That cannot be pleasant.’

The trio are among 50 expats in the 32,000-strong force. They are the remnants of 900 such officers serving in 1997 when Hong Kong was handed back to China. Senior officers receive high salaries, with a chief superintendent earning £188,000 a year. The top rate of income tax is 17 per cent.

‘One key driver of protest has been anger at the police,’ said Johnny Patterson, director of London-based Hong Kong Watch. ‘Indiscriminate use of tear gas and rubber bullets is a breach of international human rights.’

A spokesman for Hong Kong police said violent attacks had ‘necessitated the use of minimum force by the police in accordance with international norms and their lawful duties.’

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