Barristers struggle to suppress anger at Liz Truss’s silk day speech

Exclusive: Lord Chancellor’s speech was badly judged and has not gone down well with new QCs

Anger

Justice Secretary Liz Truss made a speech to new QCs on silks day that surprised and even outraged her audience, Legal Cheek can exclusively reveal.

This week, new QCs, their families, friends and colleagues gathered at Westminster Hall to celebrate taking silk. There, Legal Cheek understands Truss made a speech which has been described by those in attendance as peculiar and badly judged.

The speech in question was one about business and the economy, and how Great Britain would continue to dominate on the world’s stage. It was not a speech about justice: Legal Cheek has been informed there was no mention of the judiciary nor the recent Supreme Court Brexit case. Somewhat strange given that the Lord Chancellor was addressing 113 new QCs.

For some, Truss’s address felt inappropriate for the occasion. Though noting that silks day was overall a happy occasion, insiders have told us quite a few people at the event were surprised by the speech (and not in a good way).

Though the, usually chatty, legal Twitterati has kept surprisingly shtum on this, we have spied a few social media outbursts.

Like this one. An attendee — who was at the ceremony to support his newly appointed QC wife — posted this on his Facebook page.

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He wasn’t the only person feeling miffed. Have a look at this tweet:

The Ministry of Justice has been unable to provide us with a full copy of the speech. It has also not responded to our request for comment.

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38 Comments

Anonymous

Liz Truss, whilst annoying and misguided, is harmless.

The REAL threat to the future of the UK is Jeremy Hunt – what he did to NHS doctors and doctors contracts is beneath shameful. Could you imagine if the same contractual requirements were imposed on politicians, teachers, lawyers….

There should be a focus on the threats to civilised society that matter – Jeremy Hunt……. I fear that we are all sleep walking and will wake up in 5 years time in utter chaos….

(19)(16)
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Anonymous

First of all, I’m typing on my phone. Second, other than a missed closing bracket, I believe my sentence construction is perfectly adequate to convey my meaning. Third, the fact you would concentrate on syntax rather than addressing my point is indicative of your unwillingness to examine the problem of radical Islam in the west (how many people have died at the hands of Muslims in Europe in the past 2 years). I have to conclude that you, and the others who’ve downvoted my comment, are so hell bent on proclaiming how tolerant and liberal you are that you’re prepared to bury your head in the sand rather than risk being deemed ‘illiberal’.

(6)(10)
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Bumblebee

His/her ability to write a proper sentence might belie his/her stupidity. However, his/her failure to understand the meaning of the word ‘belie’ doesn’t.

(8)(1)
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Anonymous

I missed that. Though I would stand by my assertions that a) my phone correcting ‘threat’ to ‘that’ isn’t indicative of stupidity on my part (at worst, it shows sloppiness), and b) that all this discussion of words and grammar is irrelevant, and only goes to show that people are either unable or unwilling to address my main point, which is that immigration by Muslims poses a massive danger to this country.

It is entirely true that most Muslims aren’t terrorists, yet most terrorists – or at least those that the world has been mainly facing for the past 15 or so years – are Muslim. September 11th, the London bombings, Nice, Berlin, Brussels, Paris (twice), Sydney, and so on. I cannot believe that all of you are unwilling to recognise the fact under the vast majority of terrorist incidents in the west have been perpetrated by, and in the of, Islam. And yet you have the gall to call me stupid. How many more people have to be brutally murdered before you drop the tolerant facade and admit that maybe multiculturalism and mass immigration of Muslims isn’t such a great thing? How many more instances of Islamist killings do you need to see before you admit there is a particular problem with members of that religion? Do you really think that all this death is worth it, just so we can say we’re “diverse”?

(2)(2)
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Anonymous

Yup, ban them all, because a minority of them are bad. Sounds fair.

Go to America and cosy up to the idiot in the Oval office. You guys will get on great.

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Bumblebee

Anonymous, usually I don’t get involved in these sorts of debates but I can see you’re getting quite upset and so here’s an answer for you.

Nobody is denying that “there is a particular problem with members of that religion”. Clearly, the West is facing a very serious threat in the face of Muslim extremists.

However, the reason you’re getting down voted is that you started your tirade with “The real threat to the future of the UK is Islam.” Respectfully, that comment somewhat undermines your subsequent views on multiculturalism and mass immigration.

It is true that the majority of violent terror incidents are perpetrated by Muslims. However, that isn’t sufficient to support your assertion that “The real threat to the future of the UK is Islam”. It’s akin to noting that the majority of rapes are committed by men and then concluding that “The real threat to the future of the UK is men”. It’s just a naive and ill-thought out argument, and it doesn’t really warrant a response.

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Anonymous

Don’t buy into the “NHS reforms are more disastrous than Legal Aid/Court reforms” nonsense. A functional legal system is a basic, central block of society, an NHS a very important but ultimate secondary one.

(9)(6)
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Anonymous

I was not comparing the plight of the cuts to legal service provisions and medical services provisions. I was not comparing these two things.

But now you mention it, both are horrific. It’s not a competition. Both things are so essential.

What there should be, is SOLIDARITY, not competition between the medical and legal professions – services for THE PEOPLE that protect LIFE and LIBERTY is essential. The two branches should come together to maintain funding for these essential markers of civilised society and what makes Britain great.

(3)(1)
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Anonymous Coward

The doctors have been taking the piss for the last 20 years since New Labour got in and gave them all massive pay increases and bonuses.

I’m not saying Doctors have an easy job, but they are paid handsomely for it, and unfortunately the NHS can no longer cope with services not being spaced over 7 days. They are already paid well enough to spread their hours over that period, without looking for EVEN MORE money.

Compare them with the junior bar and duty solicitors? They are at present underpaid and are asked to do more will pay cuts.

Listen to the people involved with the doctors negotiations, this is all about them wanting extra money. They aren’t being asked to work more hours, just existing hours being spread over 7 days rather than 5 for the same fat pay packet they currently get. Well they want more money. So do we all, but we don’t get it either.

(18)(10)
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Anonymous

Agreed! And don’t forget the NHS pays this university fees and they get a good bursary when studying each year. The least they can do is return the favour. I am a junior barrister and 50% of my practice is legal aid funded. I often work until the early hours and weekends to prepare a case properly but I don’t get paid anywhere near enough to warrant the crazy hours after I pay debts, chambers fees and other expenses associated with being a barrister. I, like many at the bar, am often tired too but we are somehow expected by the public to be invincible and strong. Why should junior doctors get away with moaning but as soon as we say anything the public forgets about us. I wonder what would happen if the courts closed for a strike. Mayhem! And only then would the public appreciate justice is one of the key pillars of a humane society.

(6)(2)
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Anonymous

I respect what you do. I am also a junior barrister, though not in a publicly funded area. I understand the pressures and hardships of the job.

I also agree that junior doctors’ prospects are considerably better than those of most young professionals.

But I would never suggest that barristers’ responsibilities measure up to those of doctors. You can’t appeal a death or terrible disability you’ve caused by a bad decision made under pressure.

(4)(4)
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paperbag

Junior doctors might have the best of intentions, but for the most part they are commissioned to do a monkey job running through checklists to prescribe medications which half the time don’t work, and in a minority of cases cause more harm than good.

They also work for the public sector. You have to get your head round this. They are not entitled to be compared to lawyers or bankers or footballers. They are to be compared with teachers and politicians. GPs can easily outearn MPs, and if relatively senior, you can outearn the PM. Doctors can earn a lot of money as they progress, and having qualified in the NHS if they want to move to the private sector as a consultant, they are free to do so and will duly make a lot of money. A sum comparable or better to any City lawyer.

They also get certainty of employment, a HUGELY generous public sector pension which anyone in the private sector could only dream of (if you ran the maths of what they’re building up in the pensions, you’d find they’re doing the same or better than junior City lawyers).

And yes, they get to help people. That’s a privilege. Everyone wants to help people, no one wants to be stuck in an office for 14 hours doing eyewateringly tedious paperwork which benefits a bunch of multinationals and even that benefit is questionable. That’s why the market drives down charity pay and teaching pay and drives up the money for monotonous work.

(3)(2)
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Anonymous

Clearly forgetting those who do extradition cases and deal with the death penalty. It is a matter of life and death for some of us. What about those whose clients face homelessness or statelessness and then commit suicide because of a negative outcome when you might have had an off day doing their case in court. It happens and you’re being narrow minded.

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Anonymous

With respect, that’s poor.

Extradition is a long process. And the state is especially careful where there’s said to be a risk of harm on return. Most significant, though, is that compared with the number of patients in surgeries and hospitals every single day, these cases are very few. The great majority of lawyers never have anything to do with them in any event. Any doctor can potentially miss, say, a meningitis diagnosis.

As for homelessness, suicide and other dire outcomes, sure, these are big worries. I don’t minimise the responsibilities placed on lawyers. But these problems are not instant and for welfare problems they are remediable. It’s just silly to try to make medical and legal decisions equivalent in that way.

Yes, it happens. But you’re being self-important.

(1)(1)
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JL

Meaning no disrespect but if you read and speak to the junior doctors, what they are asking for is geared towards their desire for shorter hours but not, by way of compromise, have a 7 day NHS. They want their hours spread more evenly but this means having a 7 day NHS. They cannot have their cake and eat it.

As for lawyers, I am not sure you have understood anon. I concur with him or her and I am afraid, in my opinion, your view that ‘well, the state will step in’ is misconceived. The state is stepping in far less and people slip off the radar when there is a lack of mental health facilities or housing or social care etc etc. Death happens in these cases, sometimes years after what may have been a bad case, but occurs as a direct consequence. What about decisions judges make about life and death? Take Re:A for instance.

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SungSam

These problems are often instant. Look out the window.

What about cases where judges have to decide what sum of money, if any, a victim of, for example, a catastrophic personal injury accident gets. How much they get determines the quality of treatment and care, which in turn may affect how long they live for in the long term. Medical and legal decisions are equivalent if you look at the domino affect, maybe not in every case and every patient but the responsibility for both is comparable.

(2)(0)
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Anonymous

Katie, can you explain what is the exclusive scoop in this article?

Your “insider sources” only conveniently repeat what was basically stated in the facebook and twitter posts you refer to – are you sure you didn’t make those sources up, and just rely on the public social media posts? No worries if you have, of course. Apart from the part where you claim you have an exclusive scoop to offer.

(16)(6)
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Does not know Katie King

“Katie, can you explain what is the exclusive scoop in this article?”

Hello! I’m a reporter who doesn’t work for Legal Cheek. It seems you fail to grasp what an exclusive story is, so I figured I’d explain it in baby terms: a story is exclusive when no-one else has reported it. That story doesn’t have to be Watergate.

No-one else has reported that Truss made a silly speech. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, or if the social media posts that Katie’s dug out were actually spread far and wide all over the internet before this story came out. If I’m right, then this story is exclusive.

Or to ask another question: did you have any idea about the story before you read about it on Legal Cheek? If the answer is no, then maybe start thinking twice about writing unfair things about KK in the LC comments, because it makes you come across as a bit of a twat.

Hope that helps.

(83)(9)
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Anonymous

Oh FFS.

How awful for the new silks. What a terrible indignity. They’ve been gravely insulted by a speech about matters more important than them.

(7)(23)
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Officious Bystander

Apparently, the QC caught in a compromising condition in Waterloo station last year was “exploring new pork markets” !

(0)(0)
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Trumpenkrieg

What do you expect when you employ a “blue sky thinking outside the box” politician to such an important position? She belongs in something like Capita or Serco with all her management-speak gobbeldygook.

(6)(2)
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Principal Private Secretary

The first 26 drafts of the speech all referred to justice to a lesser or greater extent, but as we could not offer assurances on any of them that she would not be subjected to a hostile reception, she asked No 10 for a bottom drawer speech, which said nothing of relevance to the audience.

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Anonymous

Anyone else love the image of all the preening new QC’s, flush with pride having paid over their £3,000, with their proud partners all trotting along to some awful ceremony, only to be ‘blanked’ by Truss.

She’s an idiot, but she made these pathetic QC creatures look even more stupid than her…

(4)(9)
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