The Oriental Press Group and a former chief editor were convicted of criminal contempt yesterday. They had waged a campaign against the Judiciary in which they accused 'swinish' judges and 'scumbag' government censors of conspiring against them. The decision marked Hong Kong's first prosecution for contempt based on 'scandalising the court' and 'interfering with the administration of justice as a continuing process'. Chief Judge Patrick Chan Siu-oi and Mr Justice Brian Keith concluded the group was guilty of undermining faith in the justice system. A reader's letter published in the Oriental Daily News was quoted to illustrate the impact that the paper's campaign had on public opinion. 'Someone has torn off the [judges'] designer briefs that conceal their deficiencies and exposed the ringworm, scabies and syphilis that they have hidden under their solemn black gowns,' it said. On December 11 last year, the newspaper issued a warning to the 'mangy yellow-skinned dogs' on the Obscene Articles Tribunal and the 'swinish white-skinned' judges who had upheld a ruling by the tribunal against it. The tribunal had ruled that photographs of naked women published in the Oriental Daily News in June 1996 were indecent. The 'scumbags' sitting on the tribunal were described as 'stupid men and women who suffer from congenital mental retardation and have no common knowledge worth mentioning'. In January, the paper had mounted a three-day paparazzi blitz on Mr Justice Gerald Godfrey after he had refused to allow the Oriental Press Group to take rival Apple Daily to the Court of Final Appeal over the reproduction of its pictures of pregnant singer Faye Wong. The Court of First Instance acquitted the news group's chairman, Ma Ching-fat, of contempt, but rejected as 'preposterous' a claim by former Oriental Daily News chief editor Wong Yeung-ng and Mr Ma's assistant, Mak Kam-keung, that the chairman did not know what was going on. The judges concluded that Mr Ma could not be convicted for merely knowing about the events and failing to intervene. Oriental Daily Publisher Ltd and two of its directors, Lam Shun-choi and Lam Shun-chuen, were acquitted of contempt after the court concluded they had no real role in running the paper. Wong, now company controller, will be sentenced on Saturday. Mr Ma has been instructed to appear to represent the Oriental Press Group. The Hong Kong Journalists' Association said last night that the Oriental Daily News' actions had breached professional ethics. It said journalists should exercise judgment to avoid being accused of contempt.