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Thousands of lawyers set to desert Conservatives if Grayling stays

82 per cent of legal sector more likely to vote Tory at general election if new justice secretary is appointed

23 January 2015

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A backlash from lawyers against Chris Grayling could cost the Conservative Party this year's general election, a new poll suggests.

Recently launched legal social networking site Mootis asked its users if they were more likely to vote Conservative on 7 May if Grayling was removed as justice secretary.

A total of 1,191 responses from lawyers were received and a staggering 82 per cent responded 'yes' to the question.

With over 350,000 people currently working in the UK legal services sector, many of whom may be considered to be traditional Tory voters, the results will set alarm bells ringing for David Cameron and his party.

Bill Braithwaite QC, head of Exchange Chambers and the legal mind behind Mootis, commented: "Within ten minutes of this survey going live we received over 1,000 responses. We are not a political platform and we have no political agenda whatsoever. We are interested in the views of the legal sector, though, and it is clear that the vast majority are fed up of Grayling and are prepared to turn their back on the Conservatives if he remains as justice secretary."

Grayling was subject to a horrendous year in 2014 at the hands of the legal profession. He suffered a succession of High Court defeats over such policies as cutting legal aid, reducing compensation for asbestos victims and banning books in prisons.

The first non-lawyer to hold the post of Lord Chancellor in 440 years has been consistently criticised for riding roughshod of the profession and the rule of law since last summer, despite a recent interview in which he claimed that his non legal background as a help rather than a hindrance to the previously sacred office.

Commenting on the results, Hilary Meredith, CEO of Hilary Meredith Solicitors, said: "I am not in the slightest bit surprised by the results of this poll. It is time for failing Grayling to go. He is the most inept justice secretary in living memory. The vast majority of lawyers would accept that cuts needed to be made to the legal aid bill but the ham-fisted way in which he has gone about his business has made a mockery of our legal system."

She continued: "Our courts have received such drastic funding cuts you can no longer attend in person anywhere in the country to actually speak to anyone. They are also saying they don't have enough people to answer the phones - this is what access to justice looks like in 2015. To compound matters Grayling now sees fit to make even further changes. Having made so many cuts the court system doesn't work anymore he now wants to pass on the consequences of the cuts to the general public by charging a fortune in administration and issue fees. He is simply not up to the job and it is time for him to go."

John van der Luit-Drummond is legal reporter for Solicitors Journal