An internal probe into a senior Marine Department official would not be considered as evidence against him in the misconduct trial following from the Lamma ferry disaster of 2012, a court ruled on Monday. So Ping-chi, an assistant director at the department, argued last week that he would not have said what he said to investigators had he known it would used against him in a criminal court. The District Court heard that So allegedly told his staff not to enforce a new law that ensured the required number of children’s life jackets on passenger vessels when he was a principal surveyor of ships between April 2007 and 2013. This was revealed in an interview and a questionnaire conducted by the Transport and Housing Bureau after the Hongkong Electric’s Lamma IV collided with Kowloon Ferry’s Sea Smooth on October 1, 2012, killing 39 people, including eight children. In the revelation, So said he issued his inspectors a “temporary suspension instruction” on the provision of life jackets that was intended to give the industry a grace period to adjust to the regulatory change, the court heard earlier. So denies one count of misconduct in public office for allegedly instructing his subordinates not to enforce a provision on children’s life jackets. He is also accused of failing to rescind that instruction. His barrister Daniel Marash SC earlier contended that his client was deceived into making the revelations during the internal probe and had not been cautioned beforehand. Prosecutors had demanded the details be admitted to the court as evidence. Handing down his ruling, Judge Douglas Yau Tak-hong refused the admission, saying it would be unfair to the 59-year-old defendant. Marash also asked Yau not to give weight to the report written by the commission of inquiry set up to look into the ferry disaster, saying the fatal collision had nothing to do with this case. “The point the prosecution wanted to make was [that] there were no children’s life jackets on the vessels,” he said. No one suggested that the lack of such life jackets had resulted in the deaths, he added. The case continues on Tuesday, with prosecutor Andrew Bruce SC expected to make an opening statement.