Politics

Beijing lashes out at UK judge who stepped down from Hong Kong’s top court


Sumption, 75, and British judge Lawrence Collins, 83, announced their resignations from the Court of Final Appeal last Thursday, with the latter also citing the “political situation” in Hong Kong as the reason for his departure.

“Speaking the truth based on facts and the law is the fundamental principle of a judge,” the commentary on WeChat read.

“However, the various negative comments made by Sumption in his article about the rule of law in Hong Kong are completely baseless and lack any factual or legal foundation.”

Hong Kong, the only common law jurisdiction in China, is permitted to recruit judges from elsewhere under its mini-constitution, the Basic Law. Photo: Jelly Tse

It said Sumption’s “dishonesty, untrustworthiness and lack of integrity” fully showed that he had willingly allowed himself to be “politically hijacked”, becoming a tool to politicians from the United Kingdom and other foreign countries.

“By destroying his own reputation and choosing to stand on the wrong side of history, he will inevitably face endless regret,” it said.

The commentary also cited Sumption’s comments in 2021 when he asked the UK to refrain from harming Hong Kong’s judicial system while stating that both the Chinese and Hong Kong local governments had not interfered with judicial independence.

“Comparing his drastically different stances before and after, the only conclusion people can draw is that the loss of judicial independence he claims is not that of others, but rather his own,” it said.

The commentary also took aim at Sumption’s remark that justices had to operate in an “impossible political environment created by China”, which required “unusual courage” to “swim against such a strong political tide”.

“In order to provide a tribute to the UK and politicians from certain countries, Sumption has trampled on the dignity of the rule of law and insulted his fellow judges – this can be considered a disgrace to the legal profession,” it added.

Hong Kong, the only common law jurisdiction in China, is permitted to recruit judges from elsewhere under its mini-constitution, the Basic Law. The tradition is seen as an indicator of confidence in the city’s rule of law.

Another Court of Final Appeal judge, Canadian Beverley McLachlin, 80, announced on Monday that she would retire once her term ended this summer, saying she intended to spend more time with her family.

But she added she continued to have confidence in the members of the court, their independence and their determination to uphold the rule of law.



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