Interviews by ICAC investigators into an alleged newspaper circulation scam were more like a 'tea party' than oppressive interrogation, a prosecutor said yesterday. Michael Lunn SC told the District Court the videotaped statements made by three Hong Kong Standard executives were not obtained under any threat. He argued the statements, in which the trio allegedly admitted their guilt, should be allowed to be used as evidence. 'The interviews are more in the nature of a tea party than to cross the line to oppression or unfairness,' Mr Lunn said. General manager Henrietta So Shuk-wa, 35, finance manager Tang Cheong-shing, 49, and former circulation director David Wong Wai-shing, 45, are accused of plotting with press tycoon Sally Aw Sian to defraud advertisers. They deny the charge. Ms Aw, chairwoman of Sing Tao Holdings, has not been charged. The trio were arrested at their homes on June 4 last year and taken to the Independent Commission Against Corruption headquarters for interviews. Legal representatives for the three defendants yesterday urged Judge Peter Line to exclude the statements, saying they were not made voluntarily. Gary Plowman SC, for So, argued his client's three statements were obtained by the ICAC as a result of promises, threats and inducements. Mr Plowman said there was a 'dramatic change of heart' in terms of So's attitude and the contents of her statements from one interview to another because of inducements offered by the investigators. Barrister Graham Harris, for Tang, also argued threats or inducements were made by the ICAC officers. 'Inducements may very well have been offered to him. If he co-operated, he would not be prosecuted but his bosses would be,' Mr Harris said. Barrister Nicholas Adams, for Wong, said the defendant had considered himself a witness rather than a suspect. The prosecution has said a shelf company called Mornstar was set up to buy thousands of copies of the Hong Kong Standard and Sunday Standard between October 1993 and November 1996 to increase apparent circulation figures. The copies were stored in a warehouse and later sold as scrap paper, the court has heard. So and Tang also deny six charges of false accounting while Wong denies four. Judge Line adjourned his ruling on whether to admit the videotaped statements as evidence until tomorrow.