A High Court judge fined two newspapers and two chief editors a total of HK$550,000 for being in contempt of court in publishing an interview with a murder case defendant before the end of his trial. Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung fined former Sharp Daily editor Li Pang-kay and the paper HK$60,000 and HK$150,000 respectively, and former Apple Daily chief editor Cheung Kim-hung and that paper HK$90,000 and HK$250,000 respectively. The judge said the contempt of court committed by the defendants was serious but considered that they had apologised and caused no actual harm in Henry Chau's murder case when Chau's sentence was passed. Apple Daily and Cheung, as well as Sharp Daily and Li, previously filed their submission and admitted their liability in allowing the report of Chau’s interview to be published on March 20, 2013. Barrister Gerard McCoy SC, for the two editors, admitted it was a case that was “foolish, reprehensible and deserved to be punished”. Chau was arrested on March 14, 2013 for murdering his parents. Two reporters from Apple Daily interviewed Chau at Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre when Chau was charged with murder pending trial. Chau was convicted in March this year and jailed for life. The two papers, the two editors and the two reporters were charged with contempt of court in July 2013. Barrister Jat Sew-tong SC, representing the Secretary for Justice, urged Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung to consider the seriousness of the case as the editors’ conduct had posed a serious risk of prejudicing justice. Jat claimed the secretary fully supported journalistic freedom; however, he was worried the conduct of the papers would result in “a trial by newspaper, not by law”. He claimed the report was sensational and would make a long-lasting impression on the public. Jat said Cheung was not negligent in making his decision to publish but was trying to investigate the killing. He also found Li of Sharp Daily “should have known” that his conduct would sway “the administration of justice” and had to be held responsible for the consequences. McCoy said the papers had taken remedial steps after the reports were published. They retrieved the reports and videos from the website on March 19, 2013 and asked other media not to post the video concerning the murder case in August the same year. The lawyer claimed the editors had not attempted to interfere with a fair trial. He added it was a “collective decision” by the editorial team not just Cheung’s personal decision. McCoy will apply to strike the summons against the reporters.