A radio host was acting nobly rather than with malice when speaking his mind in the aftermath of the release of a Hong Kong tour guide held in the Philippines, the Court of Appeal was told yesterday. On air, Albert Cheng King-hon urged guide Paul Au Wing-cheung to sue his former employers for unpaid wages during the period he was incarcerated in Manila on drugs charges. Select Tours had sacked Mr Au, whose first on-the-job trip in September 1991 landed him in jail two months after he arrived in the country. Mr Au and another man were sentenced to life in 1991 after 34kg of the drug 'ice' were found in suitcases carried by some of his tour group. They were released in 1996. Mr Cheng's view differed from that of solicitor Paul Tse Wai-chun, who was the legal adviser for a group campaigning for Mr Au's release. The popular host of Teacup In A Storm and his co-host Lam Yuk-wah were last year found liable, after a jury trial, for defaming Mr Tse. They were ordered to pay $80,000 compensation and shoulder the legal costs. Both Mr Cheng and Mr Tse had been involved in the campaign which saw the release of Mr Au in July 1996. But Mr Cheng 'honestly believed' that Mr Au should sue his ex-employer for compensation, according to his counsel, Martin Lee Chu-ming SC. Mr Lee, also representing Mr Lam, said Madam Justice Maria Yuen Ka-ning had erred in law in deciding the defamation case. The radio hosts could have succeeded in pleading fair comment, he said. Mr Lee argued that the judge misdirected the jury regarding the element of malice. 'It defies all logic and common sense that such a noble motive honestly held by [Mr Cheng] should destroy what the jury had effectively held to be a fair comment,' Mr Lee said. The hearing continues.