Government House would have liked to do it. Xinhua (the News China News Agency) would have liked to do it, too. But a computer virus has beaten them both by making outspoken Martin Lee Chu-ming, chairman of the Democratic Party and a thorn in both their sides, fall silent for a full 18 months. Thanks to the Michelangelo computer virus attack on the system in his barristers' chambers, every speech, newspaper article, press release, legal brief or other utterance in English made by Mr Lee since the middle of 1994 has been erased. 'This computer virus has done what no sore throat, cold or 'flu could ever do, and that's stop us in our tracks,' said Mr Lee last night. 'The important stuff that is lost is historical,' said office aide Minky Worden. 'It's very sad.' Because the computer reads so many disks it has been decided attempts to find the source of the virus would be futile. Some data has been recovered and there are some backups, but much is expected to be lost forever. Ms Worden said one of Governor Chris Patten's advisers could barely contain his delight. 'He said 'You lost all the press releases? Are you sure you lost all of them?'.'