Ruling a mixed bag for ex-legislator

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 May, 2012, 12:00am


Former lawmaker Mandy Tam Heung-man lost her constitutional challenge to election law, which she says deprives candidates of their electoral rights. But the prosecution also lost its appeal to overturn Tam's acquittal in May of last year of a charge of electoral bribery.

Tam had been found not guilty of bribery in offering a free seminar to accountants two days before the 2008 Legislative Council election, which the ICAC had said was to induce them to vote for her.

After the ruling yesterday, Tam, 54, said it was 'an end to the matter' and that she did not plan to appeal against the law's constitutionality.

The former accountancy-sector lawmaker, who was defeated in the 2008 poll, said she would be more cautious when running for the Legislative Council election for Kowloon East in September.

Mr Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon of the Court of First Instance upheld the magistrate's acquittal, saying the latter had considered the value of the seminar's advantage in deciding whether Tam had offered it as an inducement to vote for her.

'Given that we are dealing with electors coming from the accountancy profession, and there is no evidence as to the commercial value of such [professional development] talk ... I do not think this court can characterise his finding as a perverse one,' Lam said.

Martin Lee Chu-ming SC, for Tam, had said the definition of 'advantage' under the law was too wide.

The judge disagreed. 'An offence is only committed in a clear case of the candidate having an intent to induce votes for him or her in the provision of the service ... If a candidate provided the service in good faith without any corrupt intent, a defence of reasonable excuse is available.'

He ordered the prosecution to pay 70 per cent of Tam's legal costs.