Officials should drop plans to introduce a law preventing the publication of official secrets because even if the defence of public interest was allowed, it would not be enough to protect the media, an academic has warned. It has been proposed that unauthorised and damaging disclosure of protected information would be a criminal offence under Article 23 anti-subversion legislation. Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee last week indicated she may consider introducing the defence of public interest to allay mass media fears. Eric Cheung Tat-ming, assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong's Department of Professional Legal Education, said the Official Secrets Act in Britain had been used to prosecute civil servants and government officials but not the media. 'Judging from the fact there is no prosecution against the mass media, I doubt if there is the need to create such an offence,' he said. A government spokesman said yesterday the proposals were being reviewed. Speaking on RTHK's Letter to Hong Kong yesterday, independent legislator Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee said a defence of public interest would not be good enough as the media and the public could still be caught out if they picked information from a dustbin.