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Top UK judges quit Hong Kong

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Supreme Court says it can’t continue to endorse administration which has ‘departed from values of political freedom’

Hong Kong

Two top UK judges have pulled out from the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal, saying they cannot continue to sit without appearing to endorse an administration which has “departed from values of political freedom, and freedom of expression”.

Lord Reed, president of the Supreme Court, today announced both Lord Hodge and his resignations as non-permanent judges of the HKCFA with immediate effect.

“I have been closely monitoring and assessing developments in Hong Kong, in discussion with the government,” said Lord Reed in a statement.

He said the judges of the Supreme Court and its predecessor, the House of Lords, have sat on the HKCFA since 1997, when the city state was handed back to China. The judges did so with the support of the government, which determined their participation was in the UK’s national interests.

“However, since the introduction of the Hong Kong national security law in 2020, this position has become increasingly finely balanced,” continued Lord Reed. “The courts in Hong Kong continue to be internationally respected for their commitment to the rule of law. Nevertheless, I have concluded, in agreement with the government, that the judges of the Supreme Court cannot continue to sit in Hong Kong without appearing to endorse an administration which has departed from values of political freedom, and freedom of expression, to which the Justices of the Supreme Court are deeply committed.”

“Lord Hodge and I have accordingly submitted our resignations as non-permanent judges of the HKCFA with immediate effect,” he said.

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They were two of 12 overseas judges serving in Hong Kong, who also currently serve for the UK Supreme Court. It was agreed at the time of the Hong Kong handover that the UK would provide two serving Lords to sit in its final appeal court to safeguard the rule of law. Ever since, two judges have been provided in accordance with the agreement, until today.

Former Supremes Lord Neubuerger and Lord Sumption are still listed as non-permanent judges on the official HKCFA website, alongside retired judges from other common law jurisdictions. Ex-Supreme Court president Lady Hale stepped down from Hong Kong’s top bench last year following her retirement.

Since the 2020 national security law the Chinese government has been cracking down harshly on dissent in the supposedly autonomous region, and the role of judges became increasingly controversial.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss today welcomed the judges’ withdrawal, saying that “it is no longer tenable for British judges to sit on Hong Kong’s leading court, and would risk legitimising oppression”.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, Dominic Raab, agreed that “it is no longer appropriate for serving UK judges to continue sitting in Hong Kong courts”.

The UK last year set up a generous visa scheme allowing citizenship for tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents.

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16 Comments

Realist

Just waited three years to do so after the protests started in March 2019. Best of both worlds for them, collect three years of pay and virtue signal after.

(26)(6)

Yikes

Ah yes. Colonial overlords protesting the lack of political freedom in their own colony. Very representative of the UK’s incredibly ironic stance towards this issue as a whole.

(10)(54)

50 cent army

How much does the Pooh Bear pay NQ Internet shills?

(35)(2)

Yikes

“I disagree with opinion” = “opinion funded by dark overlords in China” definitely seems like a healthy and well thought-out approach to knowledge.

(6)(17)

Anonymous

Just like “I disagree with opinion” = “Colonial overlords protesting the lack of political freedom in their own colony”.

(8)(2)

Slava HK

Bit late isn’t it

(23)(3)

Anonymous

Good riddunce!

(2)(12)

Bob

Why any common law judge from a state with the rule of law would be willing to serve an evil communist empire is beyond me. All the other non-resident judges should pull the plug as well.

(6)(4)

Scouser of Counsel

If you know your history, it was because:

– Hong Kong was leased to the UK for 99 years in 1898 by Imperial China.

– The PRC became the successor state.

– The UK was legally obliged to hand over Hong Kong in 1997.

– As part of the handover agreement, there was a “one country two systems” policy that meant HK was meant to retain its capitalist economy, democratic government and Western freedoms for a period of 50 years before reverting to being an integral part of China.

– The Common Law legal system was a part of that and British judges continued to sit.

– China now appears to be chipping away at HK freedoms and British judges, who are obliged to apply the law are uncomfortable with having to apply repressive measures from the PRC.

As to those who think that all British rule was bad/evil/no better than the Nazis, look objectively at the history. How British rule is seen historically varies from former colony to former colony as the experiences were different. The British have a lot to answer for in the world, historically, it is true (though I would hope that ridding the world of the Nazis went some way towards atonement!)

In the case of HK, the old colonial flag is waved by protesters as a symbol of freedom as HK citizens had far more freedom under British rule than they will under the PRC.

(15)(4)

Anon

That’s all great but there’s a guy above who said “good riddunce” on the internet so surely he must be right

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Gotta get up…

I’ve gotta get going…

I’m gonna see a friend of mine…

(1)(1)

Eeyore

…he’s round and he’s fuzzy….

…I love him because he’s just…

Tigger

POOH BEAR!

WINNIE THE POOH BEAR!!!!

asquith

I would suggest it has taken so long because sadly the 2 judges learnt during their pupillages and first couple of years that you do absolutely anything for anyone if they’re prepared to pay you a fee.

They say a prostitute sells her body but keeps her brain, but a lawyer sells their brain.

And given most barristers clients are rogues crooks liars and cheats, who in the real world would want to even be seen with such people at the golf club, the opera, ballet or theatre.

Polite honest decent society is at the very opposite of societal spectrum to Grub Inn. Dickens was right then and little has changed.

I suspect Neuberger has probably retired. As for Sumption, isnt he resorting to hawking his silly crazy ideas in the Daily Mail and the Sun

Grub St and Grub Inn

(0)(1)

Got pupillage

Still didn’t get pupillage and the five years nearly up, hun?

(0)(0)

Finance Bro

Enjoy the sub-minimum wage and Russian Oligarchs yelling at you.

(0)(0)

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