Intimidation ruled out as legislators question probe Investigations had found no element of criminal intimidation or blackmail in the celebrity sex-photos case, a top police officer said yesterday as lawmakers lashed out at the force's handling of the case. Speaking at a special security panel meeting, assistant police commissioner Vincent Wong Fook-chuen said the force had looked into every aspect of the case but had not found any criminal intimidation and blackmail. He said nine people had been arrested over the case, including two men who were on bail, allegedly for posting internet hyperlinks to a website from which people could download 100 explicit photographs and for dishonestly accessing a computer. One of those arrested, Chung Yik-tin, 29, was charged with publishing an obscene document but was released after the Obscene Articles Tribunal gave the picture in question the lesser classification of indecent. Lawmakers were furious over the police handling of Mr Chung's case. Legislator Sin Chung-kai, from the information technology sector, asked: 'Should police ask the Obscene Articles Tribunal to classify the photo before charging a person? This case shows clearly there is difficulty in differentiating whether an article is obscene or indecent.' Ian McWalters, deputy director of public prosecutions for the Department of Justice, said there was a clear definition in the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance. A court could refer an article in question to the Obscene Articles Tribunal, which had exclusive jurisdiction to determine whether it was obscene or indecent, he said. 'However, if a person admits before a court or a magistrate that an article is obscene or indecent, the court or magistrate may accept that admission,' he said, noting that the tribunal would not be involved. Education sector legislator Cheung Man-kwong wanted to know how 'an ordinary person knows an article is obscene or not. A defendant may be punished wrongly if he admits that an article is obscene while in fact it is not. It is not right.' Barrister Ronny Tong Ka-wah of the Civic Party expressed disappointment with the prosecution of Mr Chung, who spent two weeks in jail before the charge was withdrawn. 'Can the force or prosecution prevent it from happening again? An innocent person was thrown into custody, and it was the Lunar New Year,' he said. Mr Wong replied that the prosecution and police followed standard procedures and it was the court's decision not to grant bail. He pledged that the force would be more careful about determining whether an article was obscene. 'If we have any doubt, we will refer it to the tribunal first,' he said. Meanwhile, lawmakers questioned a police visit to the Oriental Daily News group's headquarters last November. During that visit, officers sought information about a columnist after they received a complaint that a column in its sister newspaper, The Sun, in August 2006 might have provoked violence. Mr Wong said the force had high respect for the press and freedom of speech. 'We only approached the newspaper for background details to understand the case. We would make any visit to newsrooms in a more careful way in the future,' he said.