The Judiciary will change its policy of keeping the personal details of defendants in criminal trials confidential if advised to do so by the Privacy Commissioner. Judiciary administrator Alice Tai Yuen-ying said yesterday the decision was originally taken because 'we think defendants are entitled to their privacy too'. Last month a decision was taken to enforce a longstanding policy of restricting access to charge sheets in courts. The sheets list names, addresses, ID card numbers and full details of charges faced by defendants. Although not the reason for the policy, Ms Tai said reporters sometimes used the information to visit the homes of defendants and interview their neighbours. She also said ID card numbers could be misused by fraudsters. But the administrator added: 'If the Privacy Commissioner says, 'You release what you like,' then we were wrong in trying to protect the accused person's privacy. 'We would then do what the commissioner advises us to do. 'If he says the court ought to release everything in the charge sheet then we will.' The enforcement decision had been described as 'a step backwards' by independent legislator Christine Loh Kung-wai and has been criticised by several leading lawyers as making it easier for sensitive cases to avoid publicity. The South China Morning Post is running a campaign highlighting this and other areas where the territory's Judiciary is less open than its counterparts overseas. Newly appointed Privacy Commissioner Stephen Lau Ka-men said he would consult the Hong Kong Journalists' Association on the level of privacy defendants should be allowed before making a decision 'in a couple of days'. 'As a matter of public interest, I believe the Judiciary should be as open as possible,' he said.