Bar Council demands apology for inflammatory comments by Johnson and Patel
An individual at a London law firm was injured following a knife attack, allegedly inspired by the home secretary’s anti-lawyer rhetoric
An individual at a London law firm was injured following a knife attack, allegedly inspired by the home secretary’s anti-lawyer rhetoric.
Prime minister Boris Johnson also made derogatory comments about lawyers at the Conservative party conference last week.
According to news reports at the weekend, the knife incident happened in September and the unnamed firm has blamed comments by home secretary Priti Patel about lawyers for motivating the attack, which targeted an immigration solicitor.
The home secretary has recently taken to describing immigration lawyers as ‘activist’ and ‘lefty’ lawyers on more than one occasion and refused to back down.
The firm involved asked the Law Society to bring the issue up with Patel and others, including the Ministry of Justice, to ensure further public attacks on the profession are prevented.
At his keynote speech last week at the Tory party conference, Boris Johnson claimed that the entire criminal justice system was “being hamstrung by lefty human rights lawyers”, attracting stinging criticism from the Law Society and the Bar Council.
Today, Bar Council chair Amanda Pinto QC issued the following statement and demanded an apology:
“There should never be a situation when a British prime minister, home secretary and other government ministers need to be called upon to stop deliberately inflammatory language towards a profession simply doing its job in the public interest.
"Shockingly, we've arrived at that point. As this same government has proclaimed, lawyers are essential workers and play a critical role in making sure the nation's justice system continues to operate.
"Even if it was never the intention of this Government to incite violence against members of the legal profession, the fact the personal safety of lawyers is now at risk demands an immediate retraction of the ill-judged comments made in recent weeks by the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary, as well as public apology.”
The Society’s president Simon Davis said: “We are extremely concerned about the safety of solicitors and barristers in the current climate, with firms that deal in emotive issues such as immigration being targeted.
“The role of solicitors is to apply and uphold the laws set down by parliament and they have a right to do so on behalf of their clients without intimidation.”
He said the Society is monitoring the situation closely and “urge both government and media to be mindful of the rhetoric they employ”.
“This is no exaggeration”, he said. “Inflammatory language, particularly from figures in authority, can have serious consequences.
“Nobody should be put at risk for doing their job, least of all when that job entails upholding the rule of law.”
Other immigration firms have reportedly hired security guards for their offices and had to introduced protective measures for staff.