News

Top London QC pulls out of Hong Kong prosecutions following ‘growing pressure and criticism from the UK community’

By on
15

David Perry QC challenged by senior legal figures for taking on case against pro-democracy activists

Hong Kong

The top criminal silk who agreed to run the prosecution of pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong has now reportedly pulled out of the case following “growing pressure and criticism from the UK community”.

David Perry QC of 6KBW College Hill had been instructed by Hong Kong’s justice department to prosecute media mogul Jimmy Lai and eight other pro-democracy activists accused of taking part in a 2019 anti-government protest.

In a statement today the Hong Kong government said there had been “growing pressure and criticism from the UK community directed at Mr Perry QC for his involvement in this case”.

It continued:

“Mr Perry QC expressed concerns about such pressures and the exemption of quarantine, and indicated that the trial should proceed without him. In light of the public interest involved and the imminent trial date the Deportment of Justice has instructed another counsel to prosecute the trial as scheduled.”

The 2021 Legal Cheek Chambers Most List

Perry’s decision to accept the brief drew criticism from senior legal figures and politicians, including UK foreign secretary and former Linklaters lawyer, Dominic Raab, who described Perry’s decision as “mercenary”. Baroness Helena Kennedy QC of Doughty Street Chambers and director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute had said Perry’s decision would become “a source of shame”.

It is alleged the protestors disregarded police orders by turning an approved assembly into a march, which was not permitted.

All nine defendants were charged jointly with two offences: organising an unauthorised assembly and knowingly taking part in an unauthorised assembly. The trial is set for 16 February.

Perry has been approached for comment.

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Newsletter

15 Comments

FlourPour

Must have seen the comment thread on here. We did it LC.

(34)(2)

Anonymous

There is little difference between the Hong Kong riots in 2019 and the one at the US Capitol, except the Hong Kong riots lasted for months. What is different is how they can be and have been interpreted all over the world. What has never been mentioned in the mainstream media is that the Hong Kong people need democracy, but they also need a strong and stable government, and in the very least, to maintain order on the streets, which it obviously has been incapable of doing.

If the UK government has a completely different attitude about the rule of law in Hong Kong and in America, it would risk seeming to be turning its back on Hong Kong’s rule of law, albeit in the name of democracy, by supporting the pro-democracy rioters without any qualifying reservations. This is perhaps most confusing for lawyers whose instincts are to abide by the law. Hong Kong’s legal system is after all an English law system.

Politicians can treat similar incidents in different countries completely differently and then change their mind. To pressure anyone to stop them from participating in a legal process in a common law country or region, just so that lawyer can be deferential to a political narrative, is not just or heroic, but duplicity. It also sends the wrong message to people back home who might already agree that undermining the rule of law is a necessity for freedom, justifying insurrections.

I think it is a shame that an English barrister has been publicly criticised by the minister Dominic Raab for practising law, and eventually decided not to represent the unfavourable government in court. The rule of law which is talked so much about after US Capitol should be about equal access to justice. By not participating in the process, especially as a result of giving in to a political pressure, it weakens the argument for the rule of law and shines a bad light on the UK. Raab’s condescension is a bit rash. He should have waited for the court’s ruling before even commenting at all.

(12)(60)

Spam Ham Pam

The issue is that Perry would have been lending a veneer of respectability to a show trial. Raab was right to call this out and had he waited until judgment was handed down his commentary would have had no value whatsoever.

(49)(3)

Anonymous

To be fair, all of the headlines included his “mercenary” quote. He was the most prominent critic.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

You cannot seriously claim that the integrity of the Hong Kong court is in question when the British government supports the accused in the criminal proceedings. Trump does not magically change the people or the judicial tradition in Hong Kong over night.

If you can question the integrity of Hong Kong’s court, it would not be long before British courts are under attack by the mobs. Dominic Raab and Donald Trump can only change perception to an extent. I am not convinced they are right. This country has suffered more than just coronavirus, it is suffering from the tyranny of a populist majority.

It may not be a favourable idea to prosecute the Hong Kong rioters, but a minister of the law should be able to do anything he likes, especially a minister of today’s politics does not like it.

(1)(5)

Anonymous

You cannot seriously claim that the integrity of the Hong Kong court is in question when the British government supports the accused in the criminal proceedings. Trump does not magically change the people or the judicial tradition in Hong Kong over night.

If you can question the integrity of Hong Kong’s court, it would not be long before British courts are under attack by the mobs. Dominic Raab and Donald Trump can only change perception to an extent. I am not convinced they are right. This country has suffered more than just coronavirus, it is suffering from the tyranny of a populist majority.

It may not be a favourable idea to prosecute the Hong Kong rioters, but a minister of the law should be able to do anything he likes, especially a minister of today’s politics does not like it.

If an English barrister cannot work on a certain case in Hong Kong, then make it fair – No English barrister or judge should stay.

(1)(5)

CCP

Masterfully put.

(17)(1)

Anonymous

Anyone with a different opinion is branded a traitor or a communist for all to attack and hate.

(3)(8)

Big Soul Brother

Doesn’t pulling out so late prejudice the interests of his client. I’m sure I read something about that somewhere..

(2)(19)

Abraham C

Not when the client is a wealthy authoritarian government with various other silks briefed and waiting in the wings as back up.

(8)(1)

Umphry Happleby

I don’t know why we don’t just forbid all advocates from representing states and businesses based in states we don’t like. China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Brazil, The USA, Scotland etc. Personally I think once you become a QC you should have to justify every case you take and get it signed off by the Guardian.

(11)(24)

Anonymous

Perhaps you could offer you services in his place.

(4)(2)

Abraham C

Interesting. So I guess he wasn’t obliged to take the case then, contrary some here were saying.

(18)(0)

Anon

He was never obliged to take the case, as the cab rank rule does not apply to foreign work.

(10)(0)

Party on, Wayne, and party on, Garth.

And, moreover, that rule is more of a guideline than a rule.

(6)(0)

Comments are closed.

Related Stories