A British lawyer set to prosecute Hong Kong democracy campaigners has been slated by Dominic Raab for being "mercenary".
It comes after it was recently revealed that David Perry QC is being brought in to handle the trial of Jimmy Lai, a publisher and high-profile critic of the Chinese state, and eight other campaigners accused of organising an illegal anti-government march.
The Foreign Secretary said he did not understand how any British lawyer could in "good conscience" prosecute a case applying the controversial national security law in Hong Kong.
Mr Raab said: "There's no doubt in my mind that under the bar code of ethics a case like this could be resisted and, frankly, I think people watching this would regard it as pretty mercenary to be taking up that kind of case."
He said he did not understand how anyone in “good conscience, from the world-leading legal profession that we have, would take a case where they will have to apply the national security legislation at the behest of the authorities in Beijing, which is directly violating, undermining the freedom of the people of Hong Kong, and I understand, in the case of Mr Perry, in relation to the pro-democracy activists”.
He added: "From Beijing's point of view, this would be a serious PR coup."
Last week the Court of First Instance granted the Department of Justice’s application to hire Mr Perry to handle the case, noting its complexity and significant effect on freedom of assembly in future.
The trial of the accused, all of whom have been charged with organising an unauthorised assembly, and knowingly taking part in an unauthorised assembly on August 18, 2019, is set for February 16.
The British barrister, who practises at the London chambers 6KBW College Hill, has taken part in a number of high profile cases in Hong Kong, and has also appeared for the UK Government at the European Court of Human Rights.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, and co-chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (Ipac), said Mr Perry’s involvement in the case was “appalling.”
Sir Iain previously told The Telegraph: “I call on him, if there's a shred of decency in him, to withdraw and withdraw quickly."
Meanwhile, Mr Raab refused to accuse China of the genocide of Uighur people, as he said reports of internment camps and women being forcibly sterilised in Xinjiang were "truly shocking".
The Chinese government has denied accusations of widespread abuse in the north-western province, mainly targeted at the Uighur minority group, including allegations of forced sterilisation, slave labour and mass internment.
Mr Raab told Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "I think it's a shocking, truly shocking, set of circumstances in Xinjiang, against the Uighur Muslims."
However, when asked if the treatment of the Uighur minority group amounted to genocide, he said: "I think it's for a court to decide whether the very complex definition of genocide is met.
"But what is clear, frankly, whatever legal label you put on it, is that there are convincing and persuasive third party authoritative reports of serious violations of human rights on an appalling industrial scale."