They say a magazine's report of an alleged love affair involving barrister Ronny Tong is just nonsense The pro-democracy camp yesterday said it was bracing for a fresh smear campaign, with a candidate in New Territories East likely to be the latest victim. Campaigners said they would keep a close watch on developments after a Chinese-language magazine ran an investigation about an alleged love affair involving barrister Ronny Tong Ka-wah, who is on the democrats' list in New Territories East. But observers said the smear campaign could backfire and boost support for the democrats. Speaking after a 'war council' between pro-democracy candidates in the constituency, the Democratic Party's Andrew Cheng Kar-foo dismissed the report published in Express Weekly. 'The story is nonsense,' said Mr Cheng who heads a list including The Frontier's Emily Lau Wai-hing and Mr Tong. 'We expect more smear tactics will be directed at us and if any of us is targeted, we will stand firm together.' In its story, the magazine sought to 'clear up' rumours that Mr Tong had been involved in a 15-year love affair with a woman who lives in a public housing estate in Chai Wan. The woman's address and telephone number had been widely spread among the media, the magazine claimed. The report said the rumours were 'false accusations' as the woman, her sister and her mother who lived in the flat were contacted and said they did not know Mr Tong. Mr Tong, who is married, could not be contacted for comment last night. A campaign aide said the barrister 'did not feel any need to respond' to the story. Political scientist Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, of City University, said voter sympathy might go to the democrats if the smear campaign intensified. 'If candidates are repeatedly smeared but the negative information lacks evidence to back it up, voters will doubt the motives behind the so-called exposing of the scandals. The smear campaign might backfire,' Professor Cheung said. Albert Cheng King-hon, a Kowloon East candidate who is also convener of the democrats' crisis management committee, said: 'The Express Weekly story has no credibility and anyone [with] common sense will not respond to it.' The pro-democracy camp has been hit by negative reports which it claims are part of an organised smear campaign. Democrat Alex Ho Wai-to, a candidate in Kowloon East, has been detained on the mainland for consorting with a prostitute, while Democrat James To Kun-sun was accused of having rented an office owned by the party at an above-market rent. Albert Cheng said that in light of intensifying rumours of more scandals to be 'exposed' by a hostile media, a mass rally of all pro-democracy candidates would be held. 'We hope to show our unity to voters. We want to urge them to vote for the pro-democracy camp and hope the smear campaign will not affect their willingness to go to the polls,' Mr Cheng said.