Death of Matthew Trickett, suspect in spy case tied to Hong Kong trade office in UK, may complicate trial: legal expert

Death of Matthew Trickett, suspect in spy case tied to Hong Kong trade office in UK, may complicate trial: legal expert

The unexplained death of Matthew Trickett, a suspect in an espionage case tied to Hong Kong’s trade office in London, may complicate court proceedings, with a legal scholar saying that more might have been learned about the spying accusations if he had chosen to testify.

Ex-Royal Marine Trickett, 37, was one of the three suspects charged with assisting an overseas intelligence service and foreign interference between December 2023 and May this year. British authorities alleged the trio were acting on behalf of Hong Kong.

Trickett was released on bail by a court last Monday along with Bill Yuen Chung-biu, the office manager of the Economic and Trade Office in London, and Peter Wai Chi-leung, a director of a private security firm. The trio were expected to attend a hearing on Friday.

Simon Young Ngai-man, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, said it was difficult to say whether the death would affect the case but noted there appeared to be no suggestion Trickett was set to testify against the other defendants.

“[In] that sense his death does not appear to affect the prosecution’s case against the other two. If he was alive to testify it might help to clarify the circumstances of the case from the defence perspective,” he said.

“But then again, it is not clear whether he would have testified at this trial.”

Trickett, a Home Office immigration officer, was found dead in a park in Maidenhead, Berkshire, on Sunday. Thames Valley Police said on Tuesday they were treating the death as “unexplained”.

The Post learned that Trickett was arrested earlier this month and had concealed his mobile phone in his underwear when police approached him.

He also told the officer that he ran his own security company and was tasked with conducting surveillance, the Post understood.

During the first hearing on May 13, the prosecution asked the court to remand Trickett in custody because he had attempted to take his own life after being arrested. District Judge Louisa Cieciora refused the request and released him on bail.

Photos circulating online after the death of Matthew Trickett (right) show him standing with Hong Kong Secretary for Education Christine Choi (centre) during a past visit to London. Photo: Handout

Photos widely circulated online after the death appeared to show Trickett alongside Hong Kong Secretary for Education Christine Choi Yuk-lin in January when she visited London.

The Post has reached out to the Education Bureau as well as the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau to ask whether he was hired for security services.

Hong Kong authorities have previously declined to comment on the case.

Additional reporting by Lilian Cheng



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