Two UK judges quit Hong Kong’s top court, as Lord Collins cites ‘political situation’


British judges Lord Jonathan Sumption, 75, and Lord Lawrence Collins, 83, have resigned from Hong Kong’s top court, with the latter citing the “political situation.”

legal source, who did not wish to be named, confirmed a report by the Financial Times on Thursday evening.

“I have resigned from the Court of Final Appeal because of the political situation in Hong Kong, but I continue to have the fullest confidence in the court and the total independence of its members,” Collins said, according to legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg.

News of the resignations comes four days after an investigation by The Independent revealed that British judges were paid £40,000 (HK$399,225) per month to sit on the top court, with flights, accommodation and travel also expensed. The resignations also come three weeks after NGO, the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, released a report claiming “foreign judges are lending legitimacy to Beijing’s crackdown on political freedoms in Hong Kong,” as they called on them to step down.

Lord Sumption was involved in a case surrounding the definition of rioting following the 2019 protests and unrest.

He was celebrated in China’s state-run press in 2021 after he wrote in a letter to The Times, saying that “[d]emocracy has never existed in Hong Kong, but the rule of law has and still does… As a Hong Kong judge I serve the people of Hong Kong. I must be guided by their interests, and not by the wishes of UK politicians. I intend to continue on the court.”

He was responding to calls for British judges to quit the city’s top court. A China Daily story about his letter has since been removed from the internet.

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Two UK judges quit Hong Kong’s top court, as Lord Collins cites ‘political situation’