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Hong Kong courts

Luxury hotel in Hong Kong acquitted of allegations it served fingernail in bird’s nest at wedding banquet

The magistrate ruled he was not sure whether fingernail seized was the fragment discovered in the dish

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 September, 2017, 9:29pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 July, 2018, 9:19pm

Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel on Friday cleared its name over allegations it had served braised bird’s nest with a fingernail in it during a luxurious wedding banquet last December.

The company operating the hotel was acquitted and awarded costs by Kwun Tong Court. The magistrate ruled he was not sure whether the fingernail seized was the fragment reportedly discovered in the dish since the complainant had once confused it with a similar fragment wrapped in identical packaging.

Deputy special magistrate Andrew Hung Ho-kei heard a primary-school teacher was dining at her cousin’s wedding banquet on December 9 last year, when she lifted a spoonful of braised bird’s nest to find a fragment resembling a curved fingernail.

Disgusted, she told the newlyweds and reported the case to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

Government Laboratories later confirmed the fragment was a fingernail after collecting it from the groom Wong Ching-hei, who paid more than HK$500,000 for the banquet serving 35 tables of guests.

The Tsim Sha Tsui hotel denied responsibility and a representative from Consolidated Hotels pleaded not guilty to one summons of food not of the quality demanded by the purchaser.

At issue was whether the fragment handed over to the authorities was the same fragment that the primary-school teacher had given the groom.

The court heard she did not take pictures of the fragment while it was reportedly served with the dish. Instead she wrapped it with a piece of tissue paper and placed it inside a Tempo tissue bag before she gave it to Wong, who “inspected” the contents for about two seconds and pocketed the bag.

But when he took out the fragment again to show the hotel staff, he found that it looked different from before.

Later he discovered there was another Tempo tissue bag in his pockets. Inside was a tissue paper similarly wrapping a fragment – and it resembled the fingernail described by his wedding guest.

Both fragments were provided to the department, and Wong gave a statement the following April.

On Thursday, Wong admitted to the defence that he had instructed his groomsman to cut his fingernails, which he said was for comparison with the fragment. He also admitted that he found that it did not resemble a fingernail.

But he denied that he was dissatisfied with the hotel service.

Wong also denied making up evidence after losing the initial fragment provided by his wedding guest.

“I can certainly tell you I did not mean to sue the hotel,” he said.