The 'one country, two systems' policy would be thrown into doubt if the directors of the Oriental Press Group were jailed for contempt, a court heard yesterday. John Griffiths SC, for the media giant, said it would be 'exceedingly harmful' to press freedom if the courts were to rule that news group directors were accountable for every word appearing in their publications. 'That is not only the thin end of the wedge driving out editorial independence, but it is actually abolishing it,' Mr Griffiths said. He argued 'mere inactivity' by company directors should not constitute contempt. In the early days under Chinese sovereignty, it was particularly important to ensure 'one country, two systems' applied to the press, he said. The Court of First Instance heard earlier that Oriental Press Group chairman Ma Ching-fat was unaware of the month-long episode in which the group's flagship paper Oriental Daily News levelled abuse at members of the Judiciary and staged a three-day paparazzi blitz on Mr Justice Gerald Godfrey. The Oriental Press Group, Ma, Oriental Daily Publisher Ltd and two of its directors, Lam Shun-choi and Lam Shun-chuen have been charged with contempt of court along with chief editor Wong Yeung-ng. Chief Judge Mr Justice Patrick Chan Siu-oi and Mr Justice Brian Keith reserved judgment. Beginning in September, the paper had published seven articles levelling racial slurs at Mr Justice Godfrey, Mr Justice Anthony Rogers and members of the Obscene Articles Tribunal, the court heard earlier. The paparazzi blitz on Mr Justice Godfrey began after he refused to allow the group to take rival Apple Daily to the Court of Final Appeal over the reproduction of pictures of pregnant singer Faye Wong.