A few weeks ago, I talked about the tweet posted by the Home Office which attacked ‘activist lawyers’.
This bizarre statement from a government Department was met with universal condemnation from across the legal profession. Law Society President Simon Davies said –
‘It is vital in a democratic society that each case is judged on merit and it is the role of the justice system to determine the validity of claims. This function is and must remain independent of government, media and public opinion.’
The Bar Council took an equally strong stance. Their Chair Amanda Pinto QC said –
“Irresponsible, misleading communications from the Government, around the job that lawyers do in the public interest, are extremely damaging to our society. Legal professionals who apply the law and follow Parliament’s express intention, are not “activists”. They are merely doing their jobs, enabling people to exercise their statutory rights and defend themselves against those in power. Without those lawyers, our system would crumble.”
Closer to my home, the President of Liverpool Law Society, Julie O’Hare wrote –
“The rule of law is a fundamental principle of our democracy. There is both an expectation and understanding that our government will always act in accordance with the law and that if they do not do so then part of the function of an independent legal profession has been to seek, on their clients’ behalf, to hold them to account.”
This condemnation came from all sides of the legal profession, a profession of broad political views – left, right, middle, don’t care. This is demonstrated by the number of lawyers across all parties who have served as MPs – Lloyd George, Herbert Asquith, Clement Atlee, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Ken Clarke, Dominc Grieve to name just a few.
The Home Secretary responded to this criticism by launching the most disgraceful attack on lawyers that I have ever heard in this country. In her, otherwise lightweight, speech to the Conservative Party last week she came out with this –
“No doubt those who are well-rehearsed in how to play and profit from the broken system will lecture us on their grand theories about human rights. Those defending the broken system – the traffickers, the do-gooders, the lefty lawyers, the Labour party – they are defending the indefensible.”
Support for the Rule of Law is not a political choice. It is an essential foundation stone of a democracy. The earlier tweet was rejected by the profession as a whole. Is she saying that the entire legal profession is made up of ‘lefty lawyers’? She seems to have declared war on us all, a profession that exists to uphold the rule of law across all of society.
More chilling is her dismissal of our rights as ‘grand theories’.
Her comments about ‘the indefensible’ overlook the fct that nearly 75% of asylum applications succeed when appeals are taken into account.
Actually, the most telling phrase is where she insults those who help those in need as ‘do gooders’. As the Secret Barrister pointed out, those words set her very firmly against those who do good. That says far more than any ranting blog!