A journalist and former district councillor lost his appeal for a reduced sentence yesterday in a case where he impersonated a Housing Department officer. Eric Wong Chung-ki, former deputy editor of Eastweek magazine, was convicted and received a suspended jail sentence in May. In his appeal, Deputy High Court Judge Esther Toh Lye-ping told Wong he had committed a serious offence because he had not only abused his position as a member of the press but also betrayed the trust of those who had elected him to office. The failed appeal disqualifies Wong from running again for district councillor. Under electoral law, nobody can be a candidate for election after being sentenced to three months or more imprisonment, even if the sentence is suspended. Wong, 37, was originally jailed by Kwun Tong Magistrate Ian Thomas in May for four months, suspended for 18 months, after pleading guilty to pretending to be a public officer. The magistrate later reduced the sentence to 14 weeks, suspended for 18 months. The judge said: 'Members of the press hold an important position in a free society because they are the guardians of truth and, like the Hippocratic oath for doctors, journalists hold to the belief that the truth must be known.' 'Therefore it is a serious matter when a member of the press in pursuit of a false story, gains entry, under false pretence, into the home of his victim.' A co-accused, magazine photographer Leung Sai-kuen, 27, received a two-month jail term, suspended for 18 months, for the same offence. The court heard that the pair pretended to work for the Housing Department to gain entry into the flat of Ng Yuk-ling, an assistant to Kwun Tong district councillor Kwok Bit-chun, in Tsui Ping Estate, Kwun Tong. The defendants then took pictures in the flat. Ms Ng returned home, learned the department had not sent staff to her flat, and called the police. Two days later, she spotted a photograph of her living room in Eastweek. The defendants were later arrested. Deputy Judge Toh said it would set a dangerous precedent, in the prevailing climate of 'publish and be damned', if the trial magistrate had taken a lenient view in the circumstances.