Jean-Yves Gilg

Editor, Solicitors Journal

War crimes lawyer issues 'Remain' call as immigration takes centre stage

War crimes lawyer issues 'Remain' call as immigration takes centre stage


'Treat your neighbour as yourself', says Sir Geoffrey Nice QC who cautions against leaving the EU

'Treat your neighbour as yourself', says Sir Geoffrey Nice QC who cautions against leaving the EU

Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, the leading silk who led the prosecution of the former president of Serbia, Slobodan Milošević, for genocide and crimes against humanity, has said the UK should remain in the EU to strengthen international law and justice.

In a statement issued as the spokesman for human rights at Brunel University's 'Britain in Europe' think-tank, Sir Geoffrey said that the UK had an urgent role to play in European civil society and legal matters.

'We should not break up the club and return to being a nation state in a world largely centred elsewhere. We should stick with our neighbours. Immigration, is, of course, the ultimate neighbour issue. It is in our own best interest to treat your neighbour as yourself.'

Immigration continues to be a hot-button topic in the run up to the EU referendum vote this week. Writing in the Times in April, the Lord Chancellor, Michael Gove, said: 'Because we cannot control our borders - and because our deal sadly does nothing to change this fact - public services such as the NHS will face an unquantifiable strain as millions more become EU citizens.'

More recently, an anti-migrant poster unveiled by UKIP leader Nigel Farage last week, which drew similarities with Nazi propaganda, has been reported to the police for inciting racial hatred.

'Those of us who recall the days of anti-immigration and racial discrimination will remember the embarrassment that slowly dawned, forced on us by writers and filmmakers. We can recall how embarrassment turned to a sense of disgrace,' continued Sir Geoffrey.

'On immigration, we must act now jointly with Europeans within Europe as good neighbours in order that we may all ultimately act together in a dangerous, troubled world.'

Welcoming the silk's statement, Dr Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, founder and director of 'Britain in Europe,' said: 'Sir Geoffrey's opinion on the referendum is shaped by decades of personal experience of the international legal order.

'As a key player in international criminal tribunals and other international organisations, he rightly cautions on how the UK should proceed from here so as not to lose the ability to tackle global problems, in collaboration with others and, notably, its European neighbours.'

The legal profession remains divided over the coming referendum. Sir Geoffrey is the latest high-profile lawyer to advocate remaining in the EU. Dominic Grieve QC, the former attorney general, and Joanna Cherry QC, an SNP MP, have already nailed their colours to the mast by calling for a Remain vote.

Writing in Solicitors Journal, Jonathan Black, immediate past president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association and a partner at BSB Solicitors, Graham Colley, chair of the Liberal Democrat Lawyers Association, and Andrew Holroyd CBE, managing partner at QualitySolicitors Jackson Canter, have all voiced their support for the Remain campaign.

Meanwhile, the partners at patent firm EIP have also come out in support of the status quo and warned that an exit from the EU would be bad news for intellectual property rights holders and the UK's 'creative and technological industries generally'.

At a recent Brexit debate organised by the Bar Council, 67 per cent of barristers voted to remain in the EU. A separate poll conducted by Scottish Legal News found that 78 per cent of lawyers north of the border backed staying too.

However, Lord Howard QC, the former Tory party leader, Martin Howe QC, practising from 8 New Square Chambers, and Marina Wheeler QC of One Crown Office Row, have all backed an exit.

Robin Tilbrook, principal solicitor at Tilbrook's Solicitors and chairman of the English Democrats, and Clintons private client partner Andrew Kidd, have also declared their support for a Brexit.

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