But Hong Kong expected to stop Tim Owen representing Jimmy Lai in court
In Joshua’s so helpful analysis of this case I have been struck especially by the following:
. the (apparent ) integrity and steadfastness of the most senior judiciary;
. the troubling interplay between the executive and the judiciary and its threat to the principle of the separation of the powers, where the executive appears to be asserting its final “say” over the judiciary in a way that Dominic Raab would give his eye teeth for;
and: the (again apparently) parochial line taken by the local bar association.
Harking back to the UK’s own recent frictions as with the - as I maintain- perverse and self serving prorogation of Parliament by Boris Johnson, that is just the kind of issue ripe for challenge in the interests of maintaining judicial integrity as mentioned above and of guarding against fickle and convenient sidestepping of laws inconvenient to the government of the day.
From time to time the system’s philosophical health REQUIRES the availability of challenge and, if appropriate, court rulings which may indeed be exasperating for the executive. Were it to pay greater heed to wiser legal and other counsel before striving to enact challengeable and unworthy law, then that need might well arise less often.
I remember vividly the likes of the Narey Review (pace, Sir Martin) where in his remit had been firmly lodged the aim of removing “rubbing points” between criminal justice agencies and, indeed, between those scrutinising and challenging proposed changes to laws or practice from whichever (honourable) source. A system without those “rubbing points” -on the contrary- would have been NO system AT ALL.
In fact and to his credit Martin had resisted the hope- perhaps even the expectation- that he would merely “ink in” the already “pencilled” conclusions, such as the old, hoary and unsustainable chestnut that defence solicitors and barristers had been prolonging cases for greater financial gain. The converse had been and remains the case where quick “turnover” of cases is the only route to continued financial viability with legally aided cases.
There was much of Martin’s Review where the Law Society disagreed with his conclusions but nonetheless we gave him full credit for his independence of mind. How do I know? As then Vice-Chair of its Criminal Law Committee, I had been up to my armpits in our response. Yes, the Review had been initiated by Michael Howard, but it might just as well have been the “brainchild” of later administrations with the same or remarkably similar conclusions “pencilled in”.
In summary, it may be later than we think in preserving the integrity of OUR OWN system and in Hong Kong and China the lesson for us is indelibly stamped.