The departure of two senior British judges from Hong Kong's highest court was politically motivated, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on 31 March. 

United Kingdom Supreme Court judges Robert Reed and Patrick Hodge, who sit on Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal (CFA) as part of their official duties, announced their resignations on 30 March, citing the security law imposed by China in June 2020.

Lam said in her daily briefing: "I can only draw the conclusion that there must be a lot of politics behind it", adding "I remain very confident that we still have very fine judges in the judiciary, both local and from overseas. Hong Kong will continue to benefit significantly."

The UK government said its judges would no longer sit on Hong Kong's top court over opposition to China's national security law, with two Supreme Court judges resigning immediately.

"The situation has reached a tipping point where it is no longer tenable for British judges to sit on Hong Kong's leading court, and would risk legitimising oppression," Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on 30 March. 

"We have seen a systematic erosion of liberty and democracy in Hong Kong," she said, adding that the authorities had "cracked down on free speech, the free press and free association" since the security law was imposed in 2020.

Truss said she had reached the decision to withdraw the judges from the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal following consultations with the UK Supreme Court and ministers responsible for the judiciary.

The UK Supreme Court said its two judges currently sitting on the Hong Kong court in two of 12 overseas non-permanent positions had resigned with immediate effect.

"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," its president Robert Reed said in a statement.