Ming Pao seeks review of indecency ruling on sex-column articles

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 August, 2007, 12:00am

A newspaper is seeking a judicial review of an interim indecency classification imposed on features it ran on the Chinese University student journal's controversial sex column.

Ming Pao Daily News is seeking the judicial review in the High Court of what it terms an irrational and procedurally flawed ruling by the Obscene Articles Tribunal on the features about the CU Student Press, published on May 13.

Two issues of Student Press, in which students' views on such issues as bestiality and incest were published, had earlier also been given an interim indecency classification.

Barrister Denis Chang SC, for the Chinese-language newspaper, said in Ming Pao's written application filed on Wednesday that the tribunal had failed to identify the nature of the indecency and recognise the 'honest purpose' of the articles.

He also stated that the legal review should be conducted under a constitutional framework that included the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights, which provided for freedom of expression, press and publication.

The application stemmed from the tribunal's decision on May 22 to classify five pages of the newspaper's Sunday Life section, containing a discussion of the Student Press controversy, as Class II indecent - unsuitable for people under 18.

The section included a reprint of the sex column on a reduced scale.

Student Press' editorial board is also seeking a review, which led to the tribunal's hearing of an appeal against the interim ruling being adjourned indefinitely on July 6.

Ming Pao contended that the tribunal failed to identify exactly what it judged to be obscene - which instituted unfairness and created difficulty in conducting a defence.

It also alleged the tribunal failed to fulfil its obligation to keep detailed notes and records of the proceedings.

'This is especially so where the proceedings are held privately and are not open nor attended by any persons other than the members of the tribunal - so without notes and records ... there would be great difficulties in knowing what had really gone on,' Mr Chang said.

The student journal's committee is preparing its own judicial review application.

Chief editor Tsang Chiu-wai said yesterday the committee had been granted legal aid to launch an application for the review, which would be filed next week at the earliest.