Judge says there is no indication of a 'quid pro quo' in taped conversation A former legislator accused of offering a bribe to a rival candidate not to stand in last year's legislative council election has been acquitted. Chartered quantity surveyor Lau Ping-cheung, 53, was cleared yesterday in the District Court where he was accused of trying to persuading Chan Jor-kin in August last year not to run for the September election so that Mr Chan would not split the votes of the surveying sector. The prosecution alleged Mr Lau had offered Mr Chan, a building surveyor, help with business contacts in Hong Kong and the mainland. District Court Judge Barnabas Fung Wah said yesterday there was 'no express indication of a quid pro quo' in the face-to-face conversation between the two men at the Park Lane Hotel on August 2 last year. The meeting was secretly taped by the ICAC. He observed that Mr Chan, a principal witness for the prosecution, agreed under cross-examination that Mr Lau had never offered him any 'solid advantages' during that conversation. Mr Chan also confirmed to the court that no business contacts were ever mentioned in that conversation. The judge also rejected the prosecution's contention that in deciding the case he should take note of the initial phone conversation between the men on July 23, which had prompted Mr Chan to lodge a complaint to the ICAC. Judge Fung noted he could not give any weight to that conversation because it had not been taped. Mr Lau embraced his wife in the courtroom after hearing the verdict. He said outside court that he felt vindicated. He was grateful for the support of his wife, friends and relatives, not to mention his legal defence team. He said he was 'shocked' by Mr Chan's complaint to the Independent Commission Against Corruption because he had regarded the meetings with Mr Chan as conversations between two friends. Mr Lau said he had no immediate plan to re-enter politics. He was elected to the Legislative Council in 2000, representing the architectural, surveying and planning functional constituency. He lost his re-election bid in September last year in a contest with five other candidates, which was ultimately won by architect Patrick Lau Sau-shing with 1,130 votes. Mr Lau gained 616 votes, while Mr Chan got 649. The prosecution told the court Mr Lau first telephoned Mr Chan on July 23 just after learning that Mr Chan was considering running for election. Mr Chan told the court that Mr Lau had told him his [Mr Chan's] chances of winning were slim. He said Mr Lau had suggested that he withdraw in return for 'material advantages'. Mr Chan reported the conversation to the ICAC. The court heard that as the August 4 deadline for Legco nominations loomed, Mr Chan telephoned Mr Lau again at the request of the ICAC to arrange for another meeting, on August 2. This followed the earlier meeting at the Mandarin Hotel. The pair met again under ICAC surveillance in the lobby lounge of the Park Lane Hotel in Causeway Bay. The prosecution said Mr Lau suggested to Mr Chan in the taped conversation that he could still take up the offer.