A football star cleared of involvement in a World Cup gambling scam after a magistrate controversially barred a main witness from giving evidence must be put on trial again, a judge ruled yesterday. Mr Justice Michael Burrell said Happy Valley defender Lee Wai-man had to face a fresh trial on the same charge, but before a different magistrate, in order that justice be seen to be done. Lee, 25, was acquitted in February of laundering proceeds of the scam. He had been accused of helping ensure Hong Kong lost their 1997 World Cup qualifying match against Thailand 2-0 by not playing his best. The Court of First Instance judge said the not-guilty verdict was inevitable once magistrate Robert McNair had refused to allow his former international teammate, Chan Tsz-kong, 26, to give evidence. Mr Justice Burrell overruled the decision on the witness last week, saying it was 'fundamentally flawed'. Andrew Macrae, SC, for Lee, had argued that the player should not be forced to face a new trial. But yesterday the judge said: 'The factor which has tipped the balance in favour of ordering a retrial is that the need for justice to be seen to be done outweighs the fact that because of possible difficulties in the evidence against the appellant, the prospects of a successful conviction may be slim. 'That is not for this court to speculate about but for the magistrate to decide.' Lee, who has been playing for reigning champions Happy Valley this season, should be back in court as soon as reasonably possible, Mr Justice Burrell said. It would then be for a magistrate to decide whether to immediately proceed with his trial, in which Chan would be called as a witness, or await the outcome of an intended Court of Final Appeal case by three other players jailed for their involvement in the scam. Mr McNair had refused to allow Chan to give evidence for the prosecution after hearing allegations that he had been threatened and offered inducements by the Independent Commission Against Corruption. He ruled his testimony would be unreliable. But after Lee was cleared, he changed his mind and Chan testified against Kevin Lok Kar-win, 25, Chan Chi-keung, 29 and Wai Kwan-lung, 23, who were all convicted. Lok and Chan are now serving 15 months jail and Wai 12 months.