Executive councillor Ronny Tong has accused the UK of interfering in Hong Kong's judicial independence, after its foreign minister criticised a British barrister for taking up the prosecution of several pro-democracy figures for the SAR government.
However, Tong also questioned why there was a need for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to engage a foreign lawyer in the first place.
Queen's Counsel David Perry had originally been instructed to lead the prosecution of a number of high-profile activists, including media tycoon Jimmy Lai and lawyers Martin Lee and Margaret Ng, over an anti-government protest in 2019.
But Perry has since pulled out in light of criticism from the UK.
Among his critics was the British foreign minister Dominic Raab, who said he couldn't understand how anyone of good conscience would take up such a case, and accused Perry of acting in a "pretty mercenary way".
Tong, who is a barrister educated in the UK, said he is "furious and disappointed" with London's reaction over the matter.
"I felt very angry. UK has always been saying they advocate the rule of law. But in recent years, they have interfered in Hong Kong's judicial independence and the rule of law several times," Tong told an RTHK programme on Thursday.
He added that the UK administration had "completely contradicted with its image of upholding the rule of law", by suggesting that British lawyers shouldn't take part in any cases in the SAR.
Tong described Raab's comment as a "political move" that exerted pressure on local judges over how they should rule.
"If the UK thinks their lawyers cannot be involved in any unethical cases, is it trying to imply that the prosecution in Hong Kong is unethical? And if so, is it saying the local judges should release the defendants?"
"These despicable political means, initiated by a UK official, are very, very shocking," Tong said.
However, Tong also said he cannot see why the SAR government had to engage Perry in the first place, saying the DOJ should explain why local lawyers could not handle the case, which he described as "not too difficult".